This life-threatening experience seems not to have had any impact on Cornel West’s admiration for the Nation thugs. Instead of reporting what had taken place to university administrators and protecting other students from being the target of similar threats, West sought out another Harvard undergraduate, “one of the most prominent Black Muslims on campus,” to try to mediate his predicament. West told the Muslim he was interested in hearing his own take on what had happened, which led to this strange dialogue:
“From the Nation’s point of view, you disrespected one of our ministers, just as Malcolm disrespected the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Do you realize what Minister Muhammad meant to Malcolm?”
“I do,” I said. “I’ve always believed that there’s no Malcolm without Elijah. . . . But you all be calling the brother a dog, and I can never allow that. Not in public. That’s a level of disrespect that’s too much.”
Further conversation led to “exploring each other’s backgrounds [and] we got closer [until] empathy overwhelmed anger. By the end of the evening, the brother assured me that all was cool.”
And that is the end of the incident as related not by the 19-year-old student at Harvard but by the Princeton professor and friend of the president now in his late fifties and with a lifetime of experience behind him. There’s no Malcolm without Elijah. True enough if one is referring to the racial demagogue that Malcolm was before he turned against his mentor and his religion of hate. It was Elijah who taught Malcolm to regard white people as blue-eyed devils who would be destroyed on the Day of Judgment and also taught Malcolm to encourage violence against them. This was why Malcolm denounced Martin Luther King’s historic civil-rights march as “ridiculous” and preached the bullet over the ballot, and why King refused to appear on the same platform with him as long as he still adhered to Elijah’s doctrines.
Malcolm X grew out of these venomous prejudices, causing him to come into fatal collision with the Nation and its new spokesman and eventual leader, Louis Farrakhan. What does the mature Cornel West have to say about this legacy? “Though I am a Martin Luther King Jr. kind of brother, the fiery passion for racial justice and deep love for black people found in the often misunderstood lineage from Malcolm X to Minister Louis Farrakhan will always be part of me.”
But Louis Farrakhan was the bloody-minded bigot who issued the fatwa that led to Malcolm’s assassination: “The die is set, and Malcolm shall not escape, especially after such evil, foolish talk about his benefactor; such a man is worthy of death.” It is moral idiocy to refer to the “lineage” from Malcolm X to his assassin Minister Louis Farrakhan, let alone to embrace it. It is perverse to regard the surrender to racism as reflecting a “deep love for black people” rather than a hatred for whites, and it is willful blindness not to see Malcolm’s defection as an attempt to break free from a totalitarian cult that was (and still is) destructive to the cause of racial harmony and the well-being of African Americans.
CHEERLEADER FOR MARXISM
The ethical dimensions of the conflict between Malcolm and Elijah and Farrakhan are simply beyond Cornel West’s moral comprehension, which is no small matter for someone who presents himself as a prophet of rectitude and claims to follow the path of Jesus. Such political narcissism is typical of West’s progressive generation. The very nobility of their cause, in their own minds, serves to erase the “mistakes” they make along the way.
The same myopia is on display regarding the moral issues raised by Communism and the role progressives played as an auxiliary force in the atrocities that were committed in the name of social justice. During the Soviet nightmare, American progressives denied and even defended the crimes Communists engaged in, worked through peace movements to cripple the military defenses of the Western democracies, and conducted relentless propaganda crusades to delegitimize their free societies.