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In Muhammad’s view, there has been little progress since the post-Civil War enactment of “Black Codes” in the American South—where any newly freed black who “crossed any line that [whites] prescribed … could be sold back to [his] former slave owner.” Muhammad suggests that these Codes reflected “the invention of the criminal-justice system as a repressive tool to keep Black people in their place, from the very moment where 95 percent of the Black population became free.”
The impulse to dominate and oppress African-Americans is “still with us,” Muhammad says, declaring that such practices as “stop-and-frisk racial profiling and mass incarceration” have become, in the tradition of “the Jim Crow South,” the latest mechanisms by which “to control black people’s movement in cities.” “We are still living with the same basic ideas and arguments” about black criminality today “as we were in the 1890s,” Muhammad laments, “stigmatizing black people as dangerous, legitimizing or excusing white-on-black violence, conflating crime and poverty with blackness, and perpetuating punitive notions of ‘justice’ … as the only legitimate responses.”
When Bill Cosby in 2007 made a highly publicized plea for African Americans to embrace their parenting responsibilities, Muhammad disparaged the entertainer’s remarks as the “latest in a long finger-wagging tradition of instructing poor blacks to lift themselves up by their bootstraps and reject pathologically ‘black’ values.” Muhammad similarly criticized a National Public Radio segment that asked whether some blacks were lagging because of their refusal to become, as NPR put it, “closer to whites in their values.” According to Muhammad, “this line of questioning reinforces one of the most persistent myths in America … that ‘white’ culture is the gold standard for judging everyone, despite its … contradictions and its flaws, including racism.”
Wherever Muhammad looks, he sees only the oozing sore of white racism, or, as in the case of Cosby, a self-sabotaging African American. As far as Muhammad is concerned, the United States of 2012 scarcely differs, in terms of how it treats nonwhites, from the United States of 1890; today’s racism is simply more subtle, more nuanced, but every bit as toxic. This worldview ranks among the ugliest and most corrosive imprints the Left has made on the minds of so many Americans.
Interestingly, Muhammad is a great-grandson of the late Elijah Muhammad, the famous black separatist and longtime Nation of Islam leader who characterized “the whole Caucasian race” as nothing more than “a race of devils.” Elijah Muhammad died when Khalil Gibran Muhammad was only three years old. It appears that the young man would have done his great-grandfather proud.
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