Thursday, March 19, 2015

Why America's Race Problem Won't Go Away

By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent- | Last updated: Mar 17, 2015 - 12:11:18 PM

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In remarks commemorating the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., President Barack Obama declared racism and intolerance unmasked in Ferguson, Mo., no longer exists on the same wide scale and in the same way—though America’s race problem remains. 
 
Revelations of racist chants by members of a college fraternity and police shootings of unarmed Black men clearly show hatred for Blacks remains deeply woven into the fabric of America, activists and scholars said.
 
Fallout continues over the University of Oklahoma chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity since a video of members singing a racist song about lynching Blacks went viral. 
 
“There will never be a n*gg*r in SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me,” young White male voices rang out on a bus trip. They have since apologized.
 
“We can’t shake the problem of race in this country, because race is intrinsic to what America is. America will be racist for probably the rest of the time the United States is the United States,” said Dr. David Horne, professor of Critical Thinking and African History, and former chair of the Pan African Studies Department at Cal State University-Northridge.
 
Hatred as American as apple pie
The University of Oklahoma disbanded the fraternity, expelled two members, and the national chapter revoked its charter. Although condemnation was swift and the school and fraternity leaders said racism would not be tolerated, news surfaced that 19-year-old Charles Desdunes’s mother filed a $25 million lawsuit against the fraternity at Cornell University, after it allegedly hazed the aspiring doctor to death in 2011.
 
According to reports, the son of Haitian immigrants died after his hands and feet were tied with duct tape and zip ties. He was blindfolded and given so much alcohol that he died within a few hours of the hazing, according to media reports. 
 
“Race and racism are intrinsic to America. They are as American as apple pie,” Dr. Horne told The Final Call.  “Any way she’s sliced, whether it’s a theoretical look at internal colonialism or structured functionalism, doesn’t matter,” Dr. Horne said. 
 
Racism isn’t going anywhere and part of the problem is people aren’t even progressing in understanding its consequences, what to do about it, or how to make it less onerous, Dr. Horne said.
 
A culture of racism
Black students charged the SAE incident reflects other racial incidents at the University of Oklahoma. They said complaints to school officials about a culture of racism on campus have gone unanswered. Dr. Horne argued actions were taken against the fraternity only because frat boys got caught, not because of benevolence toward Black students.
 
The racist chant video surfaced the day after national civil rights leaders, President Obama, and a diverse coalition of politicians, preachers, and activists commemorated the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday March 6-8.
 
It also came on the heels of the Justice Department’s scathing indictment of the Ferguson Police Department, which it investigated following Officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of unarmed Black teen Michael Brown, Jr.
 
It also followed the March 9 fatal police shooting of naked and unarmed Anthony Hill, a 27-year-old Black man in Georgia, and the fatal police shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson. He was killed inside his home in Madison, Wisc., March 6 after an officer forced his way inside, after hearing a disturbance, according to police.
 
People are growing tired, noted Dr. Horne.
 
Part of the whole consequence of race and racism is disrespect, he said. “When you disrespect people for a long enough period of time, they do respond. They do react. People don’t like being disrespected, and that’s what we’re seeing now,” he continued.
 
The March 11 shooting of two police officers during a protest at the Ferguson police station raised serious concerns.
 
Twenty-year-old Jeffrey Williams of St. Louis has been arrested for the shootings. He’s been charged with two counts of first-degree assault, a count of firing a weapon from a vehicle and three counts of armed criminal activity. Bullets that struck police were aimed at someone else, he said.
 
“People are tired of being pushed around. They’re tired of being taken for granted,” Dr. Horne said.
He recommended Ferguson residents organize themselves politically and take command of the system.
 
“Change only comes when people decide that they’ve had enough and they are willing to organize themselves away from what the situation has been,” Dr. Horne continued.
 
Readin’, writin’ and racism
In certain matters, things are getting worse, according to Professor Patrick Delices, former research fellow and assistant for Pulitzer Prize winning historian Dr. Manning Marable at Columbia University. He now works for a college in New York.
 
“The United States of America is what it is:  a nation founded on the basis of White supremacy. It is a system that prides itself on White privilege, White superiority and Black inferiority, so it is up to us to tap into our resources to create a nation of our own,” Prof. Delices told The Final Call.
The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad was absolutely correct in directing Blacks to pool their resources to build a nation, the professor said.
 
If Blacks make up about 14 percent of America’s population, yet are the majority of those incarcerated, being killed, who are homeless, who are unemployed, yet spend $1.2 trillion, Blacks must redirect spending habits to strengthen families and communities, said Prof. Delices.
 
The answer lies in using Black spending power to create employment and educational institutions, instead of sending Black children to be taught by people who have a history of being violent towards them, and who have no vested interests in truly educating them, Prof. Delices said.
 
And it’s all happening under a president who identifies himself as Black, but who doesn’t have the interests of Black folks at heart, said Prof. Delices. 
 
“In other words you, have a Black face that promotes White supremacy. You have a Black face in a position of power that serves in the best interest of White supremacy and White America and doesn’t serve in the best of interest of Black folks,” he told The Final Call.
 
The worst people
In Pt. 2 of his divine Saviours’ Day 2015 message titled “The Intensifying Universal Cry for Justice,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam reiterated the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s warning that God will mete out justice to Whites who have terrorized Blacks in her midst.
 
“ ‘These people,’ he was talking about White people, ‘have been the worst people to us (the Black Nation) since they have been on the face of the earth. They were created and made for just the purpose of destroying our peace as well as our lives,’ ” Minister Farrakhan stated, reading from page 49 of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s groundbreaking book, “Message to the Black Man in America.”
 
“They have destroyed 600 million of the Black Nation since they have been on our planet. This averages 100 million every thousand years of their rule. They have affected nine-tenths of the total population of the Black Man under their rule, including the Brown, Red and Yellow races,” Minister Farrakhan continued.
 
The best and only true solution is Blacks having their own land, where they can build their own society, free from tension, hatred and violence endemic to living in White America, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught. God is making a way for Blacks to gain the knowledge of self to build a civilization of their own, but today, too many are afraid and doubtful, he said.
 
Color blind society?
“There’s this notion that we live in a color blind, race-neutral society when people understand that race matters, and the very young folks who are chanting these racist slurs as it pertains to African Americans, they’re the ones that are going to be the CEO’s of these major companies that are not going to hire us. They’re the ones that are going to hold that system of power over us … even though they know we’re more qualified than the White person that they hire,” Prof. Delices said.
 
In cases where Blacks may get the job, racism in America is so rampant, it also plays out when companies neglect to hire Blacks in senior executive or leadership or managerial positions, but at lower positions with lower salaries, Prof. Delices noted.
 
In addition, he argued, there’s a running theme throughout the United States of America that was revealed when during the 87th Academy Awards ceremony, Patricia Arquette, a White female actress, took to the stage and championed the ridiculous, inaccurate historical claim that White women were involved in everybody’s movement.
 
“Black people were involved in everybody’s movement, but not everybody’s involved in the movement for Blacks to be empowered and liberated,” Prof. Delices said.
 
Ms. Arquette received thunderous applause when she said women’s salaries should be equal to that of men, but when singer John Legend spoke on the problems of Black male incarceration during his acceptance speech with hip hop artist/actor Common, one could hear a pin drop, Prof. Delices pointed out.
 
“That speaks to the theme and the reality that we have in this country, because race matters, but Black lives don’t matter,” he said. Whites aren’t interested in empowering Blacks, but maintaining their power at any cost, which they’ve proven time and time again, with the killings of Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., and many others, he charged.
 
Police killings of Black males aren’t just happening in a vacuum, Prof. Delices said. “But there is an institutional process in the United States of America to displace Black males from raising their families the way they need to be raised. And that stems from the country’s history of slavery, which disallowed Black males to be with their families to begin with,” he stated.
 
‘Racism without racists’
According to L.A.-based human rights Attorney Nana Gyamfi, one reason for America’s race crisis is the system’s refusal to hold people accountable. The system just refuses in cases of police brutality to pursue cops criminally and actually charge them with federal crimes, or to sue civil rights violating police departments such as Ferguson, she said.
 
“It’s significant, for example, that the (Justice Department) found all this racism, but then turned around and decided not to indict Wilson with any federal crime, so it’s like racism without racists,” Atty. Gyamfi said.
 
“There’s all these people doing stuff that’s racist, but there’s no racists. Where are the racists, because you’re not holding any individuals accountable,” she said.
 
Ultimately, it’s up to the community to hold police and society accountable, but people need to change their strategies, she said.
 
“We have to admit that our attempts to go through the government, to meet with the police as some groups have been doing regularly here in L.A., to try to figure out who are the good cops, who are the bad cops, we have to admit that those strategies have not worked. And it’s okay,” she said.
Certain tactics worked before because Blacks were united, seized power and exercised power, she argued.
 
“We’re not together. We’re not thinking about this as a power struggle. We’re thinking about this still in a position in which we are asking, in which we are begging, in which we are the powerless, seeking that hope from the powerful, and we have to stop that,” Atty. Gyamfi insisted.
 
Until and unless Blacks recognize the need to take personal responsibility for solutions, things won’t change, she said. “You just can’t sit and see that this is a terrible thing and do locker room talk about it. We know that there are people obviously that are up in arms, that are in the streets, that are doing the work to seize power but it’s not enough people, and they don’t have enough support,” she said.
Dr. Boyce Watkins, writer, organizer, and academic, told The Final Call federal action on Ferguson wasn’t the best the  government could do and the Obama administration is a big part of the problem. “The Obama administration has been incredibly weak on most issues that relate to racial justice. In fact, his presidency has been a huge setback for the African American community,” Dr. Watkins stated in an e-mail interview from Botswana in Southern Africa.
 
“White people are angry, which puts us all in danger. The key is that we might need to get angry too,” said Dr. Watkins. He’s unsure if police ever felt that it was open season on Blacks, because many of them have been truly trained to believe Blacks are threats. 
 
“In fact, some of them think they are doing the right thing when they kill a young Black man. What has to happen now is for Black people to make our voices heard and to realize that many of these White folks are NOT our friends. Once we realize that our sons have always been in danger, we might gain the will to fight back,” Dr. Watkins said.
 
 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

An Unparalleled Act of Love

By Ashahed M. Muhammad -Assistant Editor- | Last updated: Mar 10, 2015 - 12:50:41 PM

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‘She saved my life’  ..In an amazing act of love and courage, a Muslim teacher donates a kidney to a Christian student

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A’ja with her best friend Ronesha Hill. Both are heading to college in the fall and both want to become nurses.
DETROIT (FinalCall.com) - Eighteen-year-old A’ja Booth suffered from nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disease in which protein leaks out of the kidneys into the body. One of the symptoms is excessive fluid retention causing pain and swelling in the face, arms legs, and feet.

For the last four years, A’ja has hated having to go in for kidney dialysis treatment every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She would attend her morning classes at Westside Academy High School and then straight from there, navigating heavy traffic and sometimes inclement weather, get to the treatment center. Once at the treatment center, dialysis took four hours, and A’ja’s mother Ramona Booth said often it drained much of her daughter’s energy.

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“It takes a lot out of her, she’s tired after, and she can’t do some things that other kids do,” said Ms. Booth.
The kidneys are a pair of organs located in the abdominal cavity on the left and right side of the spine. The kidneys are a part of the human body’s filtering system in removing waste products from the blood and producing urine, which moves from the kidney through the ureter to the bladder, where it remains until elimination. The kidneys also produce substances that help control blood pressure levels and regulate red blood cell formation. In dialysis, machines perform functions kidneys would perform if healthy.

A’ja had been waiting for a suitable donor kidney for a year. Her mother said earlier last year, one of her classmates agreed to give her a kidney, but later backed out. They were disappointed, but continued to pray that a suitable donor would be found.

“I guess her mother must have talked her into not doing it because she was young,” said Ramona Booth.
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Henry Ford Hospital, where Sis. Nadirah donated her kidney.

A’ja had actually written a children’s book titled “My Dialysis Journey” to help guide youth who may be nervous or fearful about the process of kidney dialysis.

“I actually just explained everything in my book for children who just started being sick and the doctor is telling them they’re going to be on dialysis soon. I wrote a book for them to actually read, to inspire kids who don’t know anything about dialysis that’s starting and want to know what it was like, how it feels and what they do,” said A’ja.

One day A’ja was at school talking about her book. She did not make a big deal about her kidney problems, however, on this particular day, she was asking her principal and some other teachers about the process of copywriting a publication.

Nadirah Muhammad, a physical education teacher and heath instructor, overheard the conversation and asked if she could read the book. It turns out that Nadirah was already on a bone marrow donor’s list, and she did not know that A’ja went to kidney dialysis three days a week. After reading the book, she told the young student she would not mind being tested to see if she could donate one of her kidneys.

“Prior to meeting A’ja, I had put on my license to be an organ donor,” said Nadirah, a youthful 39-year-old and standing next to A’ja looks like she could be 18-years-old.
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Nadirah Muhammad and A’ja Booth embrace three days after operation. A mask was worn because A’ja’s immune system was still low.
This was in May of 2014.

In order to give a kidney, blood has to match, then there are numerous other tests, urine samples and other exams to ensure that a potential donor is healthy enough to donate.

“Basically the process is to disqualify people based on their health, but all my blood work, all my lab tests came back squeaky clean. I didn’t have high blood pressure, diabetes or any health issues whatsoever,” said Nadirah.

“After I went through the whole process, I went to the hospital about four times. And the last time was where I was there for the whole day going through testing such as psychological testing, and meeting the surgeons. And at the end they said I was an excellent match for A’ja and I should go ahead and proceed if I wanted to.”

Nadirah told A’ja’s mother about her plans to donate a kidney.
“I was really thankful and I was happy,” said A’ja.
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A’ja Booth holding a copy of her unpublished book “A New Beginning.”

“When I actually saw her, we spoke about it and she was very happy and my plan was to have the whole process done and complete by the time school started but things happened and the process was delayed,” said Nadirah.

Summer break arrived, and the two fell out of contact. A’ja had changed telephone numbers and Nadirah no longer had her mother’s number. When school resumed in the fall, there was discussion of what was to take place in a few months since the operation was scheduled for December.

 “What I found out was that due to the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws, the doctors were not telling her what was going on with me and I didn’t know what was going on with her, but I had assumed that they were speaking to her,” said Nadirah. “I explained to her what I went through during the summer time and that I agreed to go ahead and do the surgery. She said she thought at one time that I had backed out, because I first told her that the surgery would take place sometime during the summer because that’s what her representatives told me would take place.”
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(L-R) Nadirah Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan and her mother Karriemah Muhammad. Photos: Haroon Rajaee

A’ja was relieved, especially after having a previously promised donor back out.

Nadirah was only nervous one time during the full-day testing process as she spoke with surgeons and was told there was a two or three percent chance of the donor dying.

“I was like ... Wow! I never thought about death so I said should I be doing this—that I could die? So that’s the only time I really hesitated when he said that. I was like, Wow! Death? Seriously?”

A’ja’s body could also reject the donor kidney, which would result in a wasted transplant, and there could also be internal bleeding and blood clotting experienced by Nadirah. The doctor shared the possibility that Nadirah could need a kidney in the future should she develop high blood pressure or diabetes.
nadirah_muhammad_03-17-2015.jpg

‘What I did was a humanitarian gesture that someone should do if they are able to do it. So the accolades and the adulation, I appreciate it, but I don’t feel worthy of all of it, because it is a normal everyday thing that people should do, if they can do it.’
—Nadirah Muhammad


“But he said based on my lab report and my health history, if I continue living the way that I was, the risk should be minimum if any,” Nadirah said.

Surely, it was adherence to the dietary laws of the Nation of Islam and the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad that contributed to Nadirah’s clean bill of health, which enabled her to be a suitable donor.

Nadirah is the daughter of Abdullah Muhammad and Muhammad Mosque No. 7 M.G.T. & G.C.C Captain Emeritus Karriemah Muhammad, who now reside in Atlanta. Sister Karriemah assists Mother Khadijah Farrakhan. Sis. Karriemah Muhammad said Nadirah has been close to and around the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan since she was a young child.

Nadirah said she always remembered seeing him when she was a small young girl in New York and her parents would host the Minister at their home.

Nadirah’s surgery took place at Henry Ford Hospital and A’ja’s operation took place at the Children’s Hospital.

 Sis. Karriemah Muhammad described a light moment during one of the discussions with the doctor. “One thing that was very comical at the conference when we finished talking to the doctor about the surgery and the doctor said to my daughter, ‘you could change your mind up to the point where you are on the table. As long as we haven’t given you the anesthesia, you can change your mind.’ He asked, ‘Are you still going to be there?’ She said, ‘I will be there; will you be there?’ The doctor chuckled and said she really had a good spirit about this whole thing. I said, ‘Yes, she does! Her spirit is much better than mine!’ ”
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Abdullah Muhammad, Nadirah Muhammad’s father.

When she went back to the school where she taught, Nadirah was overwhelmed by support.

“The teachers, the students—I thought my daughter was a rock star when I went in there!” said Karriemah Muhammad.
In addition to the full support of the members of Muhammad Mosque No.1 in Detroit, the church family at Nadirah’s husband’s church also provided much needed prayers not only for the kidney donor, but the recipient as well. Lomax Temple AME Zion under the direction of presiding pastor Rev. Brian Relford is the church home of Nadirah’s supportive husband of 15 years Durand Shepherd. Nadirah said her 13-year-old son Tariq also showed maturity beyond his years. Rev. Reliford said a marvelous prayer the day of the surgery and during visits to the hospital, they prayed and fellowshipped with members of the mosque. They also delivered get-well cards signed by all of the members of the church. Yet another outstanding example of Muslim-Christian unity and cooperation.

“My husband was concerned about my health post-surgery, but he just followed my lead on this aspect after I had told him the pros and cons and that I was confident that things were going to be okay,” Nadirah said. “He was there as my support, my rock, him and my son,” she added.

   A’ja is still recovering after receiving the kidney and having an additional appendectomy a few weeks ago, however, she is moving around much better and is looking and sounding very strong. She is due back to school on March 16. After completing the successful kidney transplant, she also completed another book titled “My New Beginning” and she is looking for publishers. Asked to describe how she feels about her new kidney, and her donor, she quickly blurted out:
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A’ja with her best friend Ronesha Hill. Both are heading to college in the fall and both want to become nurses.
“Outstanding! Magnificent! Words cannot express my thanks for what she did,” said A’ja. “She’s a nice person; she’s going to be blessed for doing what she’s doing. She’s a kind person. She’s not a typical person. She saved my life,” A’ja added.

Prior to the kidney transplant, A’ja had many restrictions on what she could and could not eat or drink. She couldn’t eat salt, only ate baked foods, and was only able to drink up to a liter of any fluid. This would often leave her feeling thirsty and dehydrated, but not anymore. She was never able to go on vacations or family trips, because of her dialysis schedule, but now she’s free to travel and looking forward to it.

A’ja, now a high school senior with a new lease on life, is headed to college in the fall with plans of becoming a nurse.

Her 24-year-old cousin Chafone Patmon was there for the surgery and has been there for the recovery. It had been tough to see A’ja in so much pain prior to the transplant and going through all the stress, but as a Christian, she sees a “special blessing” that her cousin received a suitable kidney from a willing donor.

“I felt like she won the lottery actually,” said Ms. Patmon. “It was very exciting. The person that gave her the kidney, it was very brave of her. And me seeing her receive a special blessing was awesome. I was very happy for her. In the beginning you get to thinking like nobody is going to be willing to do that for her; nobody is going to be that brave.  But I thought it was an awesome experience for her,” she added.

Ms. Patmon was somewhat surprised when she heard the person donating the kidney was a Muslim.  Although she had not had any problems with Muslims, she kind of felt that it was somewhat unusual to see Muslims and Christians cooperating. She could see a Muslim giving a kidney to another Muslim; or maybe a Christian giving to another Christian but not necessarily a Christian donating an organ to a Muslim or vice versa. “It shows that even though everybody is not the same, everybody can come together and everybody can also be there for each other. We all shouldn’t be against each other all the time because of religion,” Ms. Patmon added.

On March 1 during his most recent lecture at the Nation of Islam’s international headquarters at Mosque Maryam, Minister Farrakhan called Nadirah’s kidney donation “an act of unparalleled love” for her Christian sister. All in attendance at Mosque Maryam gave Sister Nadirah a standing ovation for her selfless act. The Minister said her actions were an example of Muslim and Christian cooperation at a time when globally, people are fighting and killing each other over differing religious beliefs.

“You think that we kill Christians?” asked the Minister. “We love our Christian family. That’s our momma, our daddy, our sister, our auntie, our uncle, our cousin, our classmates, our teammates. Did you know Prophet Muhammad never killed Christians just because they were Christians? He never killed Jews because they were Jews,” the Minister said.

Nadirah is back to her normal workout regimen, has resumed all of her normal activities, and has experienced no ill effects after donating her organ.

“The magnitude of what I did, I still can’t really wrap my head around it because to me it is not a big thing in my eyes. If it was my son, or another family member, I would want somebody to help. What I did was a humanitarian gesture that someone should do if they are able to do it. So the accolades and the adulation, I appreciate it, but I don’t feel worthy of all of it, because it is a normal everyday thing that people should do, if they can do it,” said the modest Muslim woman.

“I told her to do right with my kidney!” added Nadirah laughing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

On Universal Corruption

 
From The Final Call Newspaper:
Universal corruption breeds universal dissatisfaction
BY BRIAN E. MUHAMMAD -CONTRIBUTING WRITER- | LAST UPDATED: FEB 10, 2015 - 8:50:01 AM

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Demonstrators march in New York, Dec. 13, 2014, during the Justice for All rally and march. In past weeks, grand juries decided not to indict officers in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York and the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The decisions unleashed demonstrations and questions about police conduct and whether local prosecutors are the best choice for investigating police.

Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea on account of that which men’s hands have wrought, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, so that they may return. Holy Qur’an 30:41

From East to West and North to South, injustice is everywhere and corruption is being called the underlying cause of violent extremism, terrorism, bloodshed, conflicts, and social upheaval.
Until the source of the problem is addressed and eradicated, there will be mayhem and war without end.

Transparency International, a monitoring group that rates corruption by countries, defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain that harms anyone who depends on the integrity of people in positions of authority.



A pro-Palestinian demonstrator throws a stone towards riot police, during a demonstration in Paris, July 19, 2014. Police had clashed with thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters who defied a ban in Paris on marching to protest the Israeli offensive in Gaza. Some of the protesters threw objects at riot police, who responded with rounds of tear gas. Photos: AP/Wide World photos


“The root of corruption is the way that capitalism moves,” said A. Akbar Muhammad, international representative of the Nation of Islam. “What you have is organized greed from the top down while the masses of people still suffer.”

Much of the bedlam in the world’s hotspots is directly tied to corruption and the response by people adversely affected by injustice in various forms, said Sarah Chayes, author of “Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security” and a senior associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program and South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment.

Ms. Chayes’ research reveals a pattern: Where notoriously corrupt nations exist, there are also movements of religious extremists such as in Afghanistan, Yemen and Nigeria. The causes that drive rebel actions are “revolutions about corruption,” she said.

Prominent examples of extremism with religious overtones are groups like Al-Qaeda in the Middle East, the Islamic State (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, the Lord’s Resistance Army—a Christian terror militia in East and Central Africa—and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Al-Qaeda began as a U.S.-backed entity fighting Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1970s and turned on its benefactor, blaming the West for facilitating corrupt governments.


A pro-Palestinian protester is arrested by riot police after clashes erupted during a banned demonstration in support of Gaza at Place de la Republique in Paris, France, July 26, 2014. French police fired tear gas as clashes broke out at a banned pro-Gaza demonstration as thousands defied a ban on the protest. The interior minister had earlier called on organizers of the Paris demonstration to observe the ban imposed to halt potential anti-Semitic violence. Photo: AP/Wide World photos


“Boko Haram initially had the principle of kicking back against the corruption of the state,” observed Kemi Okenyodo, director of an organization that advocates for justice reform, in a Washington Post op-ed. Initially Boko Haram targeted Nigerian police forces—notorious for abuses—and government offices. Attacks on civilians are a more recent activity of the group.

Why does corruption open the door for religious extremist groups? “There is a human reflex that says when you’ve got really severe lapses in public integrity, the only way you can really hope to reform it is through very strict personal morality,” Ms. Chayes told The Final Call in a telephone interview.

Religion provides a framework and rationale for morality and right conduct. It can also be a powerful tool for identifying enemies and overthrowing rulers seen as wicked. Reformists see often religion as a counter force against deviation from the path of faith and right.

Ms. Chayes shared historic instances where acute public corruption was accompanied by the rise of militant extremism. There was the rise of “militant puritanical religion” during the 16th century Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther. The German theologian condemned the Catholic Church for corruption and his writings inspired splintering from the church—a protest movement. The rich could buy “indulgences” which meant their sins could be pardoned for a price, which Luther condemned. He argued Christian salvation was based on faith and grace, not simply deeds. His ideas spread. By January 1521, Pope Leo X excommunicated Luther. He still refused to change and was branded a heretic. By 1524 Luther’s arguments were used as reasons for the Peasants War, which he did not support. But his writings helped produce new branches of the Christian faith and dogma.


Protesters embrace outside the Ferguson Police Department, Jan. 19, in Ferguson, Mo. Protesters marched several miles to the police department from the site where Michael Brown was killed last summer.

Today’s events mirror the 16th century when elitists waxed rich on the backs of the poor and were targeted by the poor who yearned for freedom, justice and equality, Ms. Chayes said. Like today, resistance turned violent and deadly, she added. “They went after virtues and the manifestation of wealth,” Ms. Chaynes continued.

Similarly Al-Qaeda went after the World Trade Centers and Wall Street as the “manifestation of abusive accumulation of wealth in America and the Pentagon, which is the military force that defends that” abuse, said Ms. Chayes.

In “Thieves of the State,” Ms. Chayes wrote, “For decades ... extremism had been the only outlet for people to express their legitimate grievances. Autocratic governments liked it that way, because the extremist alternatives to their rule were frightening—to the United States and other international donors, but often to their own citizens as well.”

Ordinary people were often more afraid of the extremist groups than those who were already stealing. “We would prefer thieves to murderers,” an Algerian shopkeeper told Ms. Chayes when asked about corruption.

In a lecture titled “Unjust Judges Have Imbalanced the Society,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam explained what happens to people who are denied justice.
“Those who prey on people of color and disproportionately people of African descent, rarely are they punished,” the attorney said in a recent interview with The Final Call.

America’s perception of corruption has been narrowed to include only “quid pro quo bribery,” which is trading kickbacks with politicians for political influence and favors. It doesn’t only work like that. “Corruption is a way broader, way more insidious thing,” said Ms. Chayes. “It’s a danger for all of us.”

Corruption and abuse plague military contracting and the lucrative energy and health industries. Reuters has reported on major financial discrepancies at the Department of Defense. In 2012, the Pentagon reported a $9.22 billion difference between its numbers and numbers from the Treasury Dept., Reuters said. Billions unaccounted for by the Defense Dept. had increased from the previous year, said the news service. The Pentagon maintained the “discrepancies” were based on missing records and legitimate accounting differences.

Then there has been almost no accountability for a million people who lost homes in a housing crisis fueled by fraud and corruption. “The fact that nobody was prosecuted for 2008, for the financial meltdown, I just find that unacceptable that nobody was held personally accountable for what they did,” said Ms. Chayes.

Surveys conducted by Transparency International and recorded in their Global Corruption Barometer Index reveal high numbers of citizens are fed up with government corruption and greed. Political parties were seen as the most corrupt institution, followed by police forces.

As global resistance against injustice and corruption rages, Human Rights Watch warned, “Meeting security challenges demands not only containing certain dangerous individuals but also rebuilding a moral fabric that underpins the social and political order.”

But some governments have decided security threats take precedence over human rights, which are a luxury “for less trying times,” the group said. Subordination of human rights is not only wrong, but shortsighted and counterproductive, wrote Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth in an essay called “Tyranny’s False Comfort: Why Rights Aren’t Wrong in Tough Times.”

“Human rights violations played a major role in spawning or aggravating most of today’s crises. Protecting human rights and enabling people to have a say in how their governments address the crises will be key to their resolution. Particularly in periods of challenges and difficult choices, human rights are an essential compass for political action,” Mr. Roth.

Some see resistance as Divine Providence and the law of cause and effect—what goes around comes around and what one sows, so shall he reap.

Nation of Islam patriarch Elijah Muhammad warned of the consequences of “universal corruption” and a solution in his vital book, “Message to the Black Man.”

“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind today that the condition of the nations is such that needs a ruler who is not involved in the present world of corruption to bring about peace and good will among the people of the earth,” wrote Elijah Muhammad.

Mr. Muhammad said peace cannot be attained until “peace breakers have been removed from authority and their activities of mischief making, causing bloodshed, grief, sorrow and trouble among peace-loving nations” has ceased.
“There is not a civilized government of people at this writing that is not in trouble and trying to find a solution to the cause. All the nations of the earth are so corrupt with other than good that they cannot come to any agreement on peace with each other, (and) then carry it into practice.”

He said corruption started in Europe and has engulfed nine-tenths of the world population, causing near 100 percent dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction is so high it is bound to bring about universal war, since corruption is universal.

“The war is on, now, and the forces of evil are fighting a last-ditch battle to hold on to power. However, God is present now to remove not some of them, but all of them,” said Minister Farrakhan, echoing his teacher’s warning.

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