The Nation of Islam as an African-American Group Evolutionary Strategy

For many years I’ve had a tempered respect for Black Nationalists. If our struggle is a difficult one, hampered at every turn by the hostile controllers of culture, theirs is perhaps an even greater labor. To start with, leading Black Nationalists have had to contend with the biological handicaps of their race — the most potent being a lower IQ and attending dispositions towards impulsive behaviors and criminality. On top of this, modern Black mainstream culture is even more spiritually and morally bankrupt than our own. Social problems accompanying this culture are acute. Blacks account for 30% of all abortions, but comprise just 14% of the population. The traditional family unit is next to non-existent in modern Black America. Just under half of Black men will never marry and those that do will marry White women at twice the rate of Black women marrying Black men — bringing destruction to the genetic distinction of both our races.

Black Nationalists have also had to contend with the fact that most of their co-ethnics enjoy living among Whites and receiving all the benefits that that entails. Black separatism is simply too unappealing to enter the Black mainstream. On top of this, Black Nationalists have also been subject to hysterical treatment from the ADL and SPLC — organizations that work over-time to prevent the emergence of non-Jewish nationalisms that dare to acknowledge racial realities or point out the Jewish role in the Great Game of modern ethnic warfare. Although Jewish hatred reserves a special place for European man, Black Nationalists have not been spared.

I don’t feel like I’m going out on a limb when I state that, as far as fashioning a rebirth of one’s people goes, our counterparts of a darker hue do not have much to work with.

Historical Context

It is true that admirable and respectable Black leaders have been few and far between, with figures such as Jesse Jackson appearing as little more than race-baiting players of the victim card. But there have also been notable exceptions to the rule, even if they enjoyed little enduring popularity or success among their own people. Some were keenly aware, often more so than many Whites, of the incompatibility of our peoples to co-exist productively and peacefully. These figures, the Jamaican Marcus Garvey (1887–1940) among them, openly rejected multiculturalism as a sham decades before it became political dogma. Garvey was a strong believer in his race, and was an advocate of both Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism. Like others, including Booker T. Washington and Dusé Mohamed Ali, Garvey believed that the African’s worst enemy was himself. These men struggled hard to inculcate in their people a drive towards self-improvement, and overcoming the shortfalls with which nature and nurture had conspired to hold them down. They frequently cast an unflinching gaze upon their co-ethnics, and spared little in the way of feelings.

Like many White advocates of today, leaders like Garvey were shunned and berated by many of those who didn’t want to face up to reality. Attracting most scrutiny was Garvey’s ‘Back to Africa’ proposal for a Black exodus from America to a new colony in Liberia. W.E.B. Dubois once said that Garvey was “without doubt, the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America and in the world.”

Similar hyperbolic nonsense has been said about the likes of sedate and educated White advocates such as David Duke, William Pierce, and our own Kevin MacDonald. Garvey himself displayed a measured demeanor towards White race realists, appreciating that they, like him, simply wanted the best for their people. After engaging in a conference with KKK Imperial Giant Edward Young Clarke in 1922, Garvey remarked, “I regard the Klan, the Anglo-Saxon clubs and White American societies, as far as the Negro is concerned, as better friends of the race than all other groups of hypocritical whites put together. I like honesty and fair play. You may call me a Klansman if you will, but, potentially, every white man is a Klansman, as far as the Negro in competition with whites socially, economically and politically is concerned, and there is no use lying.”

What Garvey appreciated was the honesty implicit in the open recognition of racial realities, and the attending recognition of the reality of inter-ethnic competition. Despite the ethnic gulf, Clarke and Garvey could agree on the fact that the world was one of ethnic struggle, and that each of them was engaged in attempting to help their group to prosper. Separatism, they agreed, would help them both.

In later years, Garvey corresponded with White advocate and Methodist preacher Earnest Sevier Cox (1880-1966), who campaigned politically against miscegenation and was an ardent proponent of stricter segregation and the eventual repatriation of Blacks to Africa. The pair eventually became close friends, with Cox dedicating his short pamphlet Let My People Go to Garvey, and Garvey in return advertising Cox’ s book White America in his own Black Nationalist publications. The efforts of Cox to make African repatriation a legislative reality were so strenuous that Garvey was noted as remarking that Cox had done “wonderfully well for the Negro and should not be forgotten.”

Although appreciated and admired by White advocates, Garvey gained little following among his own people. He died “broke, alone and unpopular” after suffering two strokes. However, some of Garvey’s ideas did take root when the economic troubles of the 30s provided fertile ground for Black efforts at adaptation to a changing environment. Between 1900 and 1930 around 2,250,000 Blacks left the rural South for northern cities.[1] This led to an overall 400% increase in the northern Black population, and an astonishing increase of 611% in Detroit.[2] The change in environment was a shock to Blacks as well as Whites, and the majority struggled to cope with the comparative lack of social controls compared to their previous existence in the South. Without these social controls, Black culture began a downward spiral—an important corroboration of the theory (also apparent in The Bell Curve and  The Culture of Critiquethat the decline in social controls related to sex and the family has far worse effects on those with lower IQ. Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) can be seen as an early attempt to formulate a response to the, new environment, but generally speaking the most persistent attempt to formulate a path to Black evolutionary fitness, in effect, a Black group evolutionary strategy, was to be rooted in religion. Martha Lee notes that Black religious participation was “often motivated by a racial or nationalist urge” and that economic conditions during the Depression “exaggerated these tendencies on a large scale.”[3]

New Black religious movements, such as the Moorish Science Temple, sprung up with promises to combine ethno-religious separatism with the re-imposition of much-needed strict moral and social controls. Noble Drew Ali of the Moorish Science Temple argued that “Christianity is for the European (palefaces). Moslemism is for the Asiatic (olive-skinned). When each group has its own peculiar religion, there will be peace on earth.”[4] By the late 20s both the MST and Garvey’s UNIA had waned and were fading into obscurity amid increasing Black degeneration. But with the onset of the Depression, the stage was set for the entry of what must be seen as one of the most coherent, if strange, examples of Black attempts at a group evolutionary strategy — the Nation of Islam (NOI).

The origins of the Nation of Islam are obscure, and rest in the perplexing figure of Fard Muhammad. Muhammad was of unverifiable ethnic origin, though even most of his Afro-centric followers concede he had a White mother or Father. The FBI later asserted he was a New Zealander of mixed White and Polynesian heritage. Muhammad arrived in Detroit in 1930, and while selling silks door-to-door, he also imparted to his Black customers a curious version of Islam which promised the redemption of the Black race, Allah’s true ‘Chosen People.’ By 1933 he had gathered enough members and resources to open a school, training classes for women on how to be proper wives and mothers, and a private security force — the Fruit of Islam.[5]

Features of the Group Evolutionary Strategy

The Nation of Islam, since the date of its founding, has displayed many of the features of a group evolutionary strategy, several of which mirror Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy. This is particularly true in the sense that religious ideology provides the blueprint for both evolutionary strategies. On the most basic level, the Nation of Islam aims at developing a cohesive group. There is an emphasis on the inculcation of within-group altruism combined with outgroup hostility. The older teachings of Black Nationalists, particularly Pan-Africanism, are very much evident in the Nation of Islam’s teachings. Diogenes X Grassal, a NOI preacher active in the 1970s, made it explicit that his brand of Islam meant “Black Unity.”[6] Mattias Gardell writes that the creed of the Nation of Islam serves “as a vehicle for black unity and resistance.”[7] Similarly, Clifton Marsh notes that the Nation of Islam advocates the creation of Black institutions, rituals, and holidays to celebrate Black unity and African heritage.[8] The Nation of Islam promotes efforts to establish a separate nation for black Americans on American soil, and generally advocates cultural segregation from non-Black influences.

Like the Jews, there is an emphasis on the primacy of group ethnic interests rather than individual interests. NOI members are strongly discouraged from engaging in commercial or social contact with non-Blacks. Young NOI members are encouraged to see all Blacks as part of a large kinship group, and NOI youth movements are excellent examples of the effort to develop anti-individualism. The Fruit of Islam organization “includes a range of iconography borrowed from the military, including marches, drills, martial arts training, captains, lieutenants, organizational hierarchies, and saluting superiors with hand upraised and a click of the heels.”[9] This is in addition to a culture which aims to prevent socialization between groups, and encourages high levels of in-group political and economic co-operation. Individualism is also challenged within the group by the adoption of distinctive dress, which both identifies them as members of a group and also limits their expression of individuality.

Outgroup hostility is a key feature of the Nation of Islam and is intimately bound up with its ideology. Members of the Nation of Islam believe that Fard Muhammad was either Allah, or had been sent by Allah to reveal to Blacks their true status as the ‘Chosen People.’ NOI theology tells that for hundreds of thousands of years Blacks enjoyed a flourishing civilization (“the most civilized and perfect society in the world”) in a Nile Valley paradise until the entry of Whites into the world. Whites are the diametric opposite of Allah’s Chosen People, being the evil products of the mad scientist Yakub, who lived over 6,000 years ago. Yakub was a power-crazed scientist, and by accounts had an unusually large head. He wished to attain power in the flourishing civilization and sought to achieve this by introducing disunity by breeding a new type of man. His plans became known and he was banished to the island of Patmos where, with his followers, he began to selectively breed for lighter skin. His followers continued the practice, killing the darkest of the island’s offspring, until the population grew gradually lighter. NOI theology states that “As they grew lighter and lighter they grew weaker and weaker. Their blood became weaker, their bones became weaker, their minds became weaker, their morals became weaker.”[10]

These evil Whites then set sail for the Black paradise, bringing the beautiful civilization to an end and introducing practices like slavery. It was ordained that Whites were to rule for six thousand years, before it would come to an end amid a Black reawakening. It is commonly asserted by NOI followers that the end of this reign began in 1914 with the First World War and that the White decline continues. Whites, uniquely evil in the eyes of the NOI, are commonly referred to as ‘Devils.’ One of the lesser discussed elements of the early NOI was Fard Muhammad’s promise that “the murder of four Whites would insure a free journey to Mecca.”[11] At least one such sacrifice was offered when Detroit’s Robert Karriem sacrificed his roomer, John Smith, on November 21 1932. A day later two welfare workers were threatened with the same fate.

Special hostility in the NOI is also reserved for Jews, who are seen as somewhat distinct from, and worse than, Whites. A large part of this hostility is due to research conducted by Nation of Islam scholars, eventually published as The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews. The book asserts that Jews dominated the Atlantic slave trade, and relies on over 3,000 scholarly sources. Predictably, the work has been attacked by Jewish scholars and organizations who maintain that Jewish involvement in the slave trade was minimal at best and that the NOI is peddling a canard. However, these Jews have yet to actually prove their point with evidence. Much of the NOI’s hostility towards Jews is also rooted in the observations of the NOI leadership that Jews have been the wire-pullers of supposedly ‘Black’ mainstream organizations, as well as enjoying disproportionate influence in the economy. In 2000 NOI leader Louis Farrakhan addressed an audience, saying:

They [Jews] control Black intellectuals, they control Black politicians, Black preachers, Black artists—they control Black life. I’m not against Jews, I’m against control by any group, of us. … I don’t know how you can talk about Black liberation without confronting that and not talk about those who stifle Black thought, freedom of Black liberation.

NOI leaders have also frequently referred to Jews as ‘bloodsuckers.’ In his Saviours’ Day speech in Chicago, Illinois, February 25, 1996, Farrakhan stated:

And you do with me as is written, but remember that I have warned you that Allah will punish you. You are wicked deceivers of the American people. You have sucked their blood. You are not real Jews, those of you that are not real Jews. You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell. But I warn you in the name of Allah, you would be wise to leave me alone. But if you choose to crucify me, know that Allah will crucify you.

The flamboyant NOI minister Khalid Abdul Muhammed, now deceased, pointed out that Jews were prominent as slum lords to Black communities, and referred to Jews as bloodsuckers during a speech in Baltimore in February 1994:

I called them Jews bloodsuckers. I’m not going to change that. Our lessons talk about the bloodsuckers of the poor in the Supreme Wisdom of the Nation of Islam. It’s that old no-good Jew, that old imposter Jew, that old hooked-nose, bagel-eating, lox-eating, Johnny-come-lately perpetrating a fraud, just crawled out of the caves and hills of Europe, so-called damn Jew. . . and I feel everything I’m saying up here is kosher.

Muhammed also earned the scorn of the ADL and the SPLC for attacking the sacrosanct mainstream tradition of venerating the Jewish dead of World War Two when he stated:

You see, everybody always talk about Hitler exterminating 6 million Jews…but don’t nobody ever asked what did they do to Hitler? What did they do to them folks? They went in there, in Germany, the way they do everywhere they go, and they supplanted, they usurped, they turned around, and a German, in his own country, would almost have to go to a Jew to get money. They had undermined the very fabric of the society.

As in the case of Judaism, there is also a strong emphasis on racial purity. The NOI is concerned with biological segregation to the extent that interracial marriages are forbidden. There is also a keen sense of reproductive competition, and this mirrors the religious obligation to reproduce and multiply included in the Tanakh. In the Nation of Islam the family unit is encouraged, along with endogamy. Like other group evolutionary strategies, social controls play a large role in maintaining the strategy. In the NOI divorce is frowned upon and members are severely punished for adultery.[12] Martha Lee notes that “As in many groups who believe themselves the Chosen People, NOI women and children are exalted for their role in continuing the race.”[13] Concerns with reproductive success have led to the NOI becoming fixated on birth control as a conspiracy against Blacks. Elijah Muhammad, one of the NOIs first leaders during the 30s, wrote that “the Birth Control Law or Act of today is directed at the so-called Negroes and not at the American Whites. … They are seeking to destroy our race through our women.”[14]

This concern about reproductive success is part of the broader ecological aspect of this evolutionary strategy, and two of the main NOI priorities are “training women to be good wives and mothers, and educating youth.”[15] The NOI can been seen as an attempt to overcome Black degeneration through the introduction of strict social rules into Black life. One piece of contemporary NOI literature stresses:

We are in particular concerned with the direction of the youth especially in relation to education, law and order, health and the family unit.… The level of degradation within inner city communities is an alarming reality.

Although far from enjoying popularity among the mainstream Black population, the Nation of Islam represents a moderately successful attempt at a group evolutionary strategy. It offers positive social programs to its community, and its members are active in jails and prisons, recruiting prisoners into the group and dissuading them from a life of crime. NOI has a strong emphasis against drugs, against prostitution and pimping, and against violence and gang involvement. They urge Blacks to set up black-owned and black-operated businesses, thus working to raise the standard of living in poor neighborhoods. They also look with disdain on Black reliance on the government welfare system, which they perceive as often perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

The Nation of Islam has also made efforts at improving Black efforts at resource competition. NOI has invested in restaurants and the food service industry as one focus for economic growth. The Nation of Islam owns thousands of acres of Georgia farmland, and has operated a large number of restaurants, bakeries, clothing stores, bookstores, hair care shops, and other enterprises. In 1995, the NOI opened the Salaam Restaurant and Bakery on the south side of Chicago, at a cost of five million dollars. The delegates were entertained to dinner at the Salaam Restaurant and Bakery. Their fundamental ideology is to avoid reliance on government subsidies or white business partnerships.

One of their most successful ventures has been in managing to take advantage of Black lawlessness by providing building security at apartments and housing projects across America. Since 1991, the federal government has paid over twenty million dollars to NOI security teams in cities such as Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. NOI security guards will also hawk newspapers or proselytize while on duty. Despite NOI members being banned from possessing guns, NOI security teams have been generally effective at reducing crime and increasing tenant safety.  Generally speaking, the NOI can be said to offer Blacks an effective way to improve their lives and prospects.

What relevance does this analysis have for White advocacy? Firstly, it reveals that group evolutionary strategies are commonplace, and that new strategies can be devised and adapted by peoples in various circumstances. The Nation of Islam was essentially incubated among a low-IQ group in the degenerate slums of Detroit. It is now a moderately successful, tightly organized, and well-resourced community with a clear vision of itself and its future. Its membership is between 30,000 and 50,000 but its followers and supporters are suspected to number much higher. Secondly, it is helpful to have a broader understanding of perceptions of race and ethnicity in other groups. In White advocacy we have certain group goals — one of which must surely be to work towards the establishment of a White homeland untouched by multiculturalism. Sections of other groups have similar aspirations and these are to be welcomed. We should also welcome any recognition of racial realities by other groups. I’m not particularly fond of being called a ‘Devil,’ but there is an honesty in NOI depictions of racial competition, and it’s acknowledgement of Jewish influence, which I find refreshing. It is the same kind of honesty which led Garvey and Cox to find common group in the otherwise yawning gulf between them. The story of the Nation of Islam is the story of an ethnic group wanting to improve itself and stand alone. The SPLC has described it as a ‘hate group’ — it must be doing something right.

I certainly won’t receive an invite to a NOI dinner any time soon. Nor will I be extending an invitation to the nearest member of the Fruit of Islam. But nature, or perhaps Yakub himself, wouldn’t have it any other way.

[1] M. Lee, The Nation of Islam: An American Millenarian Movement (New York: Syracuse University Press, 1996), 19.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 20.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid, 22.

[6] E. Curtis, Black Muslim Religion in the Nation of Islam, 1960-1975 (University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 91.

[7] M. Gardell, In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam (Duke University Press, 1996), 36.

[8] C. Marsh, The Lost-Found Nation of Islam in America, (Scarecrow Press, 1996), 9.

[9] Y. Haddad, Muslim Communities in North America, (State University of New York Press, 1994), 152.

[10] Lee, The Nation of Islam, 29.

[11] Ibid, 24.

[12] Ibid, 30.

[13] Ibid, 31.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid, 31.

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