Thursday, February 28, 2019

Joe Biden on Donald Trump, September 2016: 'He’s Probably A Decent Guy'

   Joe Biden caused an uproar today by referring to Vice President Mike Pence as a "decent guy." He soon had to backpedal after being called out on Twitter by Cynthia Nixon:

   But it turns out in the midst of the 2016 election season, Biden actually said this on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon about none other than Donald Trump himself: “What amazes me about Donald Trump—and he’s probably a decent guy..." 

   And in 2015, Biden bestowed the "decent guy" moniker on Paul Ryan, another Republican widely reviled by Democrats:
Additionally, he said he's hopeful the administration can work with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, who's expected to serve as next speaker of the House, "toward an accommodation on the budget and on keeping the government open." 
Biden said that Ryan is "a decent guy, and he knows you cannot function, ths government cannot function, without reaching some consensus."
    No word yet if Biden will retract those compliments as well.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

SPLC Report: 'Black Nationalist Hate Groups' Now Make Up One-Quarter Of All Hate Groups

    The Southern Poverty Law Center updated its "hate group" list this week. One aspect of the list the routinely overlooked is the meteoric rise in Black Nationalist groups.
    This SPLC chart shows such groups increased from 48 in the year 2000 to 233 in 2017. The latest report puts the 2018 total at 264, a 450% increase over the year 2000.

   The new SPLC report says: 
Black nationalist hate groups make up about a quarter of the total number of hate group chapters in 2018. This sector has been growing for several years, and continued to do so last year, with an increase from 233 chapters in 2017 to 264 in 2018.
   The SPLC writes this at the end of its permanent page on Black Nationalists:
The racism of a group like the Nation of Islam may be the predictable reaction to white supremacy. But if a white group espoused similar beliefs regarding African Americans and Jews and, few would have trouble describing it as racist and anti-Semitic. If we seek to expose white hate groups, we cannot be in the business of explaining away the black ones. [emphasis added] 
   However, the new report includes this line:
Unlike white nationalist groups, however, they have virtually no supporters or influence in mainstream politics, much less in the White House.
   While Black Nationalist groups may have little open support in mainstream politics, groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus have long-standing ties to Louis Farrakhan for which they have never been fully called to account. (I have written extensively of those CBC-Farrakhan ties in the Wall Street Journal and National Review Online.)
   Violent white nationalism is clearly a problem in the US as the recent arrest of a Coast Guard lieutenant who had planned a massacre demonstrates. But a growing Black Nationalist threat (see this 2017 SPLC report: Return of the Violent Black Nationalist) also clearly exists as groups such as Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, as the SPLC itself puts it, continue to spread "antisemitic, anti-LGBT and anti-white" messages of hate.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Chicago's United Center Deletes Tweet, Webpage For Farrakhan's Saviours' Day

   Chicago's United Center hosted the final day of the Nation of Islam's annual Saviours' Day commemoration featuring a keynote address on Sunday by the group's leader Louis Farrakhan. The Script reported Farrakhan's remarks disparaging "The Holocaust" as a term reserved for Hilter's genocide of Jews, as well as a speech by a man called a "Holocaust denier" by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. 
   While the United Center promoted Farrakhan's appearance on its website and on Twitter in the run-up to the event, both the website and the United Center's Twitter feed have been scrubbed of references to Saviours' Day 2019. (A review of the website and Twitter indicates the United Center does not typically delete promotions for past events.)
    Below is an archived version of the United Center website's promo for Saviours' Day 2019 as it appeared as of Sunday, February 17:

   The same website address now returns a message, "Sorry, the page you requested was not found on our server.":

   The United Center also tweeted a promotion of Farrakhan's event on February 2, 2019, but the tweet, seen below, has since been deleted (archived here):

   The United Center also hosted Saviours' Day in 2010 according to tweets on the United Center's Twitter account, and in 2012 according to the Nation of Islam's The Final Call publication.
   Although the United Center logo feature the globe logo of United Airlines, that company's connection to the United Center is limited to a name licensing agreement.
   The United Center did not respond to inquiries from The Script before the event regarding the Center's hosting of and promotion of the event. Thus far, United Center Senior Marketing Manager Derrick Christian has not responded to inquiries about the deletion of the promotional page and tweet above and whether or not the move has implications for future Nation of Islam events at the United Center venue.
   The Nation of Islam did not respond to a request for comment either.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Farrakhan On Exclusive Use Of "The Holocaust" For Jews During WW2: "To Them, The Suffering Of Six Million Jews Is Worth Seven Billion Human Beings"

   Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan continued his public haranguing of the "Satanic Jew," his term for his Jewish critics, in his 2019 Saviours' Day event keynote address in Chicago at the United Center on Sunday. At one point, Farrakhan addressed the issue of the Holocaust and how he believes Jewish people have unjustly appropriated the word "holocaust" to apply exclusively to Hitler's attempt to wipe out Jews worldwide during World War II (video, 2:39)*:
"Now some of the Jewish people who are under the Talmud - Lord have mercy - they think so much of themselves -- that you black people -- you look at 400 years, you look at the transatlantic slave trade you look at them hanging us up, burning us at the stake, raping us, robbing us, and you call it "the Holocaust," and a Jew will say to you, Uh uh, you can't use that term. How many of you have heard Jewish people tell you you can't use "holocaust" when you talk about black suffering.  Do you know why? Because to them, the suffering of six million Jews is worth seven billion human beings on our planet. So when you say "holocaust" that's to them, blasphemy. That's how cheap they think of Palestinian life, the life of the Gentiles - only their life is sacred." [emphasis added]
Farrakhan addressing crowd at United Center (screenshot from NOI video)

   Earlier on Sunday, Michael Hoffman, a man that both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have called a "Holocaust denier," addressed the gathering at the United Center. A photo was posted on Twitter by someone in the crowd:

   Hoffman had visited with Farrakhan at Farrakhan's house on the eve of the Nation of Islam conference and posted a photo on Twitter of himself with Farrakhan:

   Hoffman has written regarding his own books, "it is necessary to have the courage to point out the many parallels between Nazi ideology and the Israeli Zionist ideology which is engaged in the on-going dispossession and murder of Palestinians." He also has a photo of himself from the year 2000 holding a banner equating the Star of David to the Nazi swastika:

   Two years ago at Saviours' Day 2017, Farrakhan's hosted 9/11 Truthers who gave a presentation alleging Jewish responsibility for the terror attacks as a false flag excuse to start a "War on Islam." The Truthers used this graphic in their presentation:

   The Script reported on this 2017 presentation last week.

*Correction. Originally said "2:42".

Friday, February 15, 2019

Farrakhan's Nation of Islam Defends Rep. Ilhan Omar “All About The Benjamins” Tweet

   An article posted this week on the Nation of Islam's "Research Group" website defends Rep. Ilhan Omar's widely condemned tweet this week, "It's all about the Benjamins baby." Rep. Omar's remark's was a response to a report that Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to punish Omar and fellow House member Rep. Rashida Tlaib over criticism of Israel. When asked "who [Omar] thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel," Omar responded "AIPAC!"
   Members of both parties, including Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, roundly condemned Omar's remarks as an anti-Semitic trope, and the House voted 424-0 on a motion to recommit to "combat anti-Semitism around the world" just days after the incident. Omar offered a half-hearted apology for her remarks, tweeting that she was "[l]istening and learning, but standing strong." Rep. Omar was rebuked for her comments, but has suffered no consequences from her party.
   As if on cue, the notoriously anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam trotted out a defense of Rep. Omar's remarks, writing:
Rep. Ilhan Omar was called “anti-Semitic” for tweeting that American politics is “all about the Benjamins”—Benjamins being slang for cash money. Jews, who are 1.4% of the U.S. population, took offense to the suggestion that their money inordinately influences the electoral process. According to the election watchdog organization Center for Responsive Politics, the top 20 donors to federal candidates in 2018 contributed $532,225,145. Of those top 20, 12 (60%) are Jewish. The total contributed by those 12 Jews amounts to $416,291,558 or 78.2% of the total. 

   Notably, the article does not make mention of Israel or America's policies, only that "Jews... took offense" over the suggestion that "their money" had undue electoral influence. The article links to a summary of the top 20 individual donors to federal candidates in 2018 with columns added to indicate "Jewish" donors versus "Gentiles":

   The split between donations to liberal/Democratic versus conservative/Republican candidates by those donors identified as Jewish is roughly 60/40. This document makes no reference to the donors' or the candidates' positions on Israel or US policy towards Israel, only the donors' identities as Jewish or Gentile.
   The Nation of Islam also takes the opportunity to promote a The Secret Relationship Between Blacks & Jews, a Nation of Islam polemic blaming virtually every ill suffered by African Americans in the United States going back hundreds of years on Jews.
   This weekend, the Nation of Islam and Farrakhan hold their 2019 Saviours' Day convention in Chicago. As The Script reported earlier this week, a presentation by 9/11 Truthers at the 2017 Saviour's Day event blamed Jews for the 9/11 attacks as a false flag operation to justify a War on Islam. The presentation included this image:

   The Nation of Islam's 2019 Saviours' Day event kicks off today, Friday, February 15, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Conference Center in Chicago and is expected to be attended by thousands if prior years are any indication. Louis Farrakhan will address the crowd on Sunday at the United Center.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Louis Farrakhan, 9/11 Trutherism, and Anti-Semitism

   This weekend, Nation of Islam members will gather in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Conference Center and the United Center for this year's Saviours' Day convention. The group's longtime leader, Louis Farrakhan is scheduled to address the crowd on Sunday. Farrakhan sparked a firestorm with remarks in his annual address in 2018 such as, "the powerful Jews are my enemy" and "Farrakhan, by God's grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew and I'm here to say your time is up, your world is through."
   While Saviours' Day 2017 did not generate as much attention, Farrakhan's gathering that year in the Cobo Center in Detroit included a symposium hosted by three 9/11 Truthers: Richard Gage, Christopher Bollyn and Kevin Barrett. The symposium drew a crowd of 4,000 people and included lectures from all three men along with video and slides to illustrate their points. Frequently interrupted by applause, the three spun a detailed story of conspiracies, false flags, revised history, "Zionist" plots, and Jewish influence, with the ultimate conclusion that "agents and supporters of Israel were the key players" in pulling off the "controlled demolitions" of the World Trade Center.
   At one point in his presentation (1:15:01 in the video), Christopher Bollyn tells the crowd that since its inception, the objective of the "Israeli Zionist state - Zionism means Israeli nationalism, Jewish nationalism" has been to take over the entire middle east region. During this part of his talk, a slide is shown to the audience of a devilish figure with pointed ears and glowing red eyes holding a crystal ball in its claws, and "Zionism" and a Star of David on its forehead; the crystal ball is labeled Syria and shows apparently dead children. Bloody tombstones labeled Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan also appear in the graphic (shown below).

   Louis Farrakhan often peppers his talks with references to the "Synagogue of Satan," a term he lifts from the Book of Revelation in the Bible and repurposes to target his perceived enemies. As noted above, last year Farrakhan railed against his enemies "the powerful Jews" and that he, Farrakhan, "has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew."
   In addition to selling CDs and DVDs of the "The War on Islam: 9/11 Revisited Uncovered & Exposed" presentation on its website, the Nation of Islam hosts a video of the symposium on its website as well. Farrakhan himself promoted the video on Twitter.
   In the wake of 9/11, as early as July 2002, Louis Farrakhan was pointing the finger at Jews for inciting a war on terror as an excuse for a "War on Islam," telling a BET interviewer during a trip to South Africa, "...those who don’t want war, let us give the reason why we don’t want war and let the American people judge and our representatives in Congress act on the will of the American people and not the will of a lobby, whether it is a Jewish lobby or a Zionist lobby or any kind of lobby. That government body should represent the will of the American people." [emphasis added]
   As America struggles against a resurgence of anti-Semitism, the country should be paying closer attention this year to Louis Farrakhan and his words during his annual keynote address to the Saviours' Day convention on Sunday, and paying closer attention to any politicians or other public figures who continue to align themselves with the polarizing head of the Nation of Islam or his associates.

Note: The image shown above is labeled "" in the bottom right corner. That website is filled with all manner of conspiracy-related artwork.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's 2018 Campaign Spent $20,490 On Air Travel, $3,147 On Rail

   One stated goal of the Green New Deal Resolution championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is to "remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector," in part by increasing "investment in high-speed rail," "public transit," and "zero-emission vehicle infrastructure." If the experience of Ocasio-Cortez's own campaign for the House of Representatives last year is any indication, however, the transition would be a difficult one.
   A review of disbursements by the Ocasio-Cortez 2018 campaign reveals a clear inclination to choose air travel over rail for long-distances and personal vehicles over public transit for local trips.
   Total disbursements to airlines totaled $20,490 to at least six different carriers for at least 39 trips. Disbursements for rail travel (Amtrak) totaled $3,147 for at least ten trips.
   For short distance travel, the campaign utilized the car services Lyft, Juno, and Uber to the tune of $14,288, while disbursements for the Metro totaled $5,368.
   During the rollout of the Green New Deal during the first week of February, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's office released several versions of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about the Green New Deal. The version provided to a number of news outlets, including NPR, lists goals of the Green New Deal movement. One of those goals:
"Totally overhaul transportation by massively expanding electric vehicle manufacturing, build charging stations everywhere, build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary, create affordable public transit available to all, with goal to replace every combustion-engine vehicle."
   The uproar over the FAQs prompted various denials, clarifications and retractions by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's advisors and staff, but while supporters have walked back the language regarding air travel, the Resolution's call for "meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources" would necessarily drastically reduce air travel unless a feasible and cost-effective alternative to jet fuel is developed.
   In June 2018, Fox News reported that, despite linking the rise of ride sharing services such as Uber to the "financial ruin" and even "suicide" of yellow cab drivers, the Ocasio-Cortez used Uber and Juno frequently. At that point, the campaign had spent about $6,500 between the two companies. By the end of the election cycle, that total (also including Lyft) had more than doubled to $14,288. (There are no expenses in the Ocasio-Cortez 2018 FEC database of disbursements for "taxi" service. One expense for $26.75 is labeled "cab service," but the vendor name listed is "Juno USA.")
   Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's office did not respond to a request from The Script for comment on the disbursements or on the nature of or destinations of the trips involving air travel versus rail travel.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Rep. Rashida Tlaib Wrote For Louis Farrakhan's Publication In 2006

Note: Updated w/ Rep. Tlaib's response at the bottom.

*   *   *   *   *

   Rashida Tlaib was elected to Congress in 2018 and has quickly become a lightning rod for her criticism of Israel and her associations with Palestinian activists, at least one of whom has compared Zionism to Naziism. Tlaib recently told the New York Times regarding her support for such Palestinians, "respect for free speech does not equate to anti-Semitism."
   When Tlaib worked for the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services in Detroit in 2006, she wrote an article for Louis Farrakhan's publication The Final Call:

   The article appears to have been written specifically for The Final Call; an online search did not turn up any evidence of the article elsewhere. The article is entitled "Bills must stop deportations for minor offenses" and addressed the problem of legal immigrants deported for technicalities and other relatively minor issues. The author bio included with the article reads "(Rashida Tlaib, advocacy coordinator of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) in Detroit.)"
   In January, Tlaib was criticized for tweeting "They forgot what country they represent" about lawmakers who support legislation to oppose the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement targeting Israel:

   Rep. Tlaib insists her criticism of the government of Israel and its supporters has nothing in common with anti-Semitism.
   Though there is no indication The Final Call or Farrakhan explicitly endorsed Tlaib as a candidate, Askia Muhammad (the photojournalist who took the now-infamous Barack Obama-Louis Farrakhan photo) wrote an August 2018 article for the Final Call regarding Tlaib's uncontested win of Rep. John Conyers old seat. Askia wrote:
Ms. Tlaib’s victory carries perhaps, the most significance. “She ran on a very progressive agenda. She didn’t bite her tongue, at all,” said Dr. Lusane. Hers “will be an important voice, not just because of her background, but because of the policies that she’s advocated, from increasing the minimum wage, and the peace agenda. It will be great, I think.
“I would suspect that former Representative Conyers would actually be very happy that someone’s coming to take his place who really will represent not only the politics that he advocated for decades, but bring in that additional perspective and experience of being of Palestinian ancestry,” said Dr. Lusane.
Conyers is one the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus and maintained a public relationship with Farrakhan as late as 2015.
   When I asked Rep. Tlaib's office for a comment on having written for Farrakhan in 2006 and whether she has maintained any connection with Farrakhan in the interim, I received no response.

*   *   *   *   *

Related: I have written in depth at the Wall Street Journal and National Review Online and the about the connections numerous Democrats have (including current leadership in the House) to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. In 2005, twenty or so members of the Congressional Black Caucus posed for a photo (via The Final Call) with Louis Farrakhan when he was invited to address the CBC at the Capitol. Though some members have explicitly distanced themselves from Farrakhan in recent years, others have remained silent, and the CBC as an organization has likewise remained silent. (Rep. Tlaib has not joined the CBC.)

Photo: Kenneth Muhammad via The FInal Call
*   *   *   *   *

UPDATE (6:00 PM, 2/11/19): While I did not get a response from Rep. Tlaib's office before I ran the story, a spokesperson told Joe Perticone of Businessinsider: "The piece was from 2006 and was not an endorsement of Farrakhan or anyone for that matter. The Congresswoman has not had any direct contact with Farrakhan and condemns his anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ views."