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Malcolm X : Still Extremist 50 Years Later

February 23, 2015

Remembering Malcolm X Fifty Years Later

by Daniel Pipes
Feb 21, 2015
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner

​On this date fifty years ago, the man best known as Malcolm X was killed by a Nation of Islam (NoI) hit squad while speaking just north of Harlem, New York.

Born Malcolm Little in Omaha on May 19, 1925, to a Baptist minister father and West Indian mother, both politically involved, he lived on the streets of various eastern U.S. cities until he was jailed in February 1946, where, a year later, he began his self-education program. He first learned about the NoI from his brother in about April 1948 and joined it later that year. Three weeks after his release from jail in 1952, he met Elijah Muhammad, the NoI leader, and commemorated his new identity by throwing off his "slave name" in favor of Malcolm X.

From 1953 on, he devoted himself full time to building the Nation. In an eye-opening experience, he traveled to the Middle East in 1959, after which he began to adopt normative Islamic practices and become more critical of NoI, eventually changing his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and then breaking with the NoI in March 1964, when he started a new movement, the Muslim Mosque, Inc. He went on the hajj to Mecca a month later, followed by other Middle Eastern and African travels. Outraged by what he perceived as Malcolm X's treachery, Elijah Muhammad had him murdered on February 21, 1965, apparently under the supervision of Louis Farrakhan. Were he still alive, Malcolm X would be approaching his 90th birthday.

What to make of the Malcolm X legacy on this 50th anniversary? He was a quick study, a natural politician, and a powerful orator, as well as a highly original political figure, He played a major role both in the large-scale conversion of African-Americans to Islam in both its NoI and normative variants (his Autobiography continues to be cited as a major inspiration for becoming Muslim), and to the development of black nationalism, a milder form of his preferred solution that blacks withdraw from the United States and form their own country.

His presence remains alive; and thanks to Spike Lee's movie about him, a U.S. postal stamp in his honor, and other signs of mainstream acceptance, he has become a somewhat anodyne figure. Here's how NBC News characterized him today, on the anniversary: "By the time he died, the Muslim leader had moderated his militant message of black separatism and pride but was still very much a passionate advocate of black unity, self-respect and self-reliance."

But Malcolm X was anything but mainstream and the passage of a half century should not soften attitudes toward him. To the end, he remained a radical, polarizing, bigoted figure, Martin Luther King's evil Doppelgänger. To support this description, recall two notorious statements. The first dates from Dec. 1, 1963, shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, when Malcolm X responded with the comment that, "Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they've always made me glad."

The second came in the course of a meeting with the Ku Klux Klan (itself a insight into his extremism) intended to win white racist support for the NoI black separatism project. According to a FBI report, Malcolm X assured the Klansmen that Jews were behind the integration movement they both despised. Joshua Muravchik concludes from this incident that Malcolm X "was a vociferous anti-Semite in both public and in private."

Malcolm X should accurately be remembered as the extremist he was. (February 21, 2015)

Feb. 21, 2015 addendum: There's another Nation of Islam member whose heyday was also fifty years ago and who basks in mainstream adulation these days, someone on a personal level far more egregious than Malcolm X. That would be the still-living ex-boxer who goes by Muhammad Ali. I wrote about him twice on the occasion of George W. Bush bestowing a presitigious award on him, here and here.


MIM: The Council Of Islamic Organisations Of Greater Chicago,a radical Islamist organisation,suceeded in having Malcolm X Day proclaimed in Illinois.

5/19/15 - May 19 is now Malcolm X Day in Illinois

CIOGC is proud to have proposed the Malcolm X Day resolution, sponsored by Senator Jacqueline Collins, which was adopted in the Senate. Malcolm X Day designates his birthday, May 19, as a day of community service in Illinois in honor of his life and legacy as a civil and human rights leader.

The following is text from the resolution confirming that May 19 is now Malcolm X Day in Illinois:

"RESOLVED, BY THE SENATE OF THE NINETY-NINTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we designate May 19, 2015 and every May 15 thereafter as Malcolm X Day in the State of Illinois; and be it further RESOLVED, That we encourage the citizens of Illinois to pay tribute to the life and works of Malcolm X through participation in community service projects on this day and ask the members of this body to urge their constituents to do the same…"

SEE: Full text of SR0517 - Malcolm X Day resolution

"Both the city of Chicago, where Malcolm X often spoke and worked, and communities throughout the state need to hear his message of human rights, the equality of all people and power in the service of justice. I am excited about the potential of Malcolm X Day to inspire more of us to commit to serving our neighbors." Collins said in a statement about the resolution.

SEE: Senator Jacqueline Collins' statement

CIOGC Chairman Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin commented on the values of Malcolm X: "Malcolm X was the embodiment of courage with which he stood up for truth and justice. The truth was so important to him that, in order to embrace it he showed no hesitation in changing his ways and rhetoric." CIOGC has actively held programs and events to commemorate the life and work of Malcolm X. The resolution was pursued by CIOGC staff and volunteers.

Malcolm X was an African American Muslim man who sought to go beyond the demands of civil rights and seek inalienable human rights for all people. CIOGC recognizes Malcolm X alongside individuals and events which celebrate our nation's great struggle to fulfill the promise of equality and opportunity for all. The purpose of Malcolm X Day aligns with the state of Illinois and City of Chicago's commitment to embracing and celebrating our diversity, while giving back to our communities.

Our Legacy And Future Destiny Symposium.

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