By Carrington Tatum
(Source: The University Star)
There is value in having diverse ideas and being open to unconventional rhetoric. However, media should push to reinstate authentic and constructive conversation into the mainstream dialogue. This means saying goodbye to the entertainment factor in an attempt order to move away from destructive groups and build the credibility of reasonable and realistic rhetoric that may not cater to the mainstream debate.
Therefore, it is not hyperbolic to suggest that the media lift their outdated ban on the leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI), Minister Louis Farrakhan who, as of late, has had a positive impact on the community he leads.
In the midst of the free-for-all that is U.S. politics, the Nation of Islam seems to be unbothered by the fame, guile, and lies that have corrupted Washington. Through the scandal and extremism that has been propagated within the political climate, the Nation of Islam seems to be the only group that has stuck to their core values and has not resorted to shock value, hatred, or mudslinging to spread their message.
There is a long history between the U.S. and the NOI since its founding in 1930. The political/religious movement saw much of its prime in 1960s with its second ordained leader Elijah Muhammad served as a mentor to some of the most famous figures of the decade including Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali.
However, Malcolm and the NOI’s refusal to align with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s non-violent form of protest was to the distaste of the American government and people. It has always been commonplace for white America to shame someone they are oppressing for not protesting in the way they prefer, but the ire toward the Nation of Islam is doubled when coupled with the Islamophobia the country has held since its conception.
Minister Louis Farrakhan’s black nationalist rhetoric has resulted in his legacy and the reach of the Nation of Islam to be erased from history books and mainstream media coverage. This erasure is shown through lacking coverage of the Million Man March anniversary in 2016 lead by the NOI where thousands of African-American men marched on Washington D.C. in honor of the original event with 1.2 million marchers.
The 2016 event received web coverage from most major outlets but was essentially ignored during primetime television. This is the attitude toward thousands of black men marching on the nation’s capital, but when thousands of Nazis and white supremacists march in Virginia, they are the topic of the week.
In their reporting, the national media lent their platform to white supremacist recruiting yet missed an opportunity to promote the black community because of a 50-year-old, antiquated ban on Islam and black resistance.
While America has always been largely islamophobic, right-wing media outlets have doubled down on their hatred lately. With the competitive nature of news reporting, there seems to be a dissonance between the position of left-leaning media and their refusal to give opportunities to the Nation of Islam.
The legacy of the Nation of Islam and some of its members has not always been perfectly tolerant. However, for an almost 90-year-old organization, it has evolved its message further than the two current major political parties. This is all the more reason that large media corporations should recalibrate the scale used to determine whether or not a group should have a platform and give the NOI the media coverage it deserves to continue fostering dialogue and community.