Thursday, November 20, 2008
Amir Abdel Malik Ali speaks at UC-Irvine
Amir Abdel Malik Ali on a previous visit to UC-Irvine
This week is Islam Awareness Week at UCI, where the Muslim Student Union brings in speakers to tell the masses how evil America and Israel are. As is their wont, the MSU featured their old standby, Amir Abdel Malik Ali, an Oakland-based imam who comes to our campus on a periodic basis to spread his message of hate.
In the wake of a recent trip to Israel (Olive Tree Initiative)by Jewish and Muslim students which lent hope that understanding was being reached on both sides, it was anticipated that the MSU might ask Ali to moderate his rhetoric. Yesterday afternoon, he spoke on the topic of "One God". I was not able to attend because I was teaching class. However, one of my colleagues did attend and reported that it was a pretty mild presentation. I attended in the evening. There were about 50-75 people in attendance predominantly Muslim students. Most of the females wore hijabs. Ali's topic in the evening was "My story", which described his life growing up in Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area, his student days at San Francisco State University as a young black activist and his conversion to Islam.
In describing the years of black activism, Ali made reference to the election of Ronald Reagan. He stated that it was that very night, he decided to quit marijuana and get serious in activism. He also stated that after Reagan was elected, blacks started being hanged in the South again and also referred to the serial murders of black children in Atlanta, implying that there was a connection to Reagan's election! He also spoke of the assassination of Malcolm X, leaving the audience with the impression that the US Government carried that out. (He later stated explicitly that the Government was complicit in the murder of Martin Luther King.) He also referred repeatedly to H Rap Brown without telling the audience that H Rap Brown was currently in prison for murdering a police officer. He went on to talk about how the Government destroyed the 1960s movement corrupting it with drugs and gangs and added that today in 2008, when a black man "stands up"-he is killed.
Ali left Israel out of his discussion, only referring once in passing to "Zionist oppression" in the same vein as US Government oppression and oppression of blacks.
In the question and answer session, Ali was asked about the election of Barack Obama. Ali dismissed Obama as a "Fitna" (deception) who would continue the same policies. He also pointed out three of Obama's aides, "Rahm 'Israel' Emanuel, Madelyn Albright and David Axelrod", one of who he called a "Zionist" (I don't recall which.)
In my view, this was a telling moment because it told me that the Olive Tree Initiative had not had the desired effect of moderating the MSU and leaving out the anti-Semitic speech. If the MSU had, in fact, asked Ali to moderate his speech, in the end, he failed.
I was the first questioner to walk to the microphone. I had not decided whether I would ask him anything depending on the tone of his speech. He gave me the issues, however. I told him that since I was a few years older than he, I also recalled many of the historical events he talked about. I first told him that he had implied that the Government had killed Malcolm X when the real assassins of Malcolm were members of the Nation of Islam under the orders of Elijah Muhammed. I also reminded him that the serial murderer of the children in Atlanta in the 1980s was a black man (Wayne Williams-Ali corrected me on the first name). Finally, I threw in a fact that he had not mentioned about H Rap Brown-that Brown was currently in prison for killing a police officer.
In his response, Ali gave me and the audience three conspiracy theories to the effect that;
1 The US Government, through its informants, had manipulated the Nation of Islam into killing Malcolm X.
2 Wayne Williams was convicted on the flimsiest of evidence (carpet fibers). In other words, Williams is innocent. I added that even at the time, I found it preposterous that some white person....
Ali: "Or white persons" (Ali's theory is that the Government wanted to prevent civil unrest if it was found that a white person was guilty of the murders.)
...could drive through the black neighborhoods of Atlanta picking up black children without raising red flags and having people notice and call police.
Finally, Ali told me and the audience that H Rap Brown was also innocent, and that another man had come forward and confessed to the crime only to be ignored by the police.
I want to say at this juncture that Ali is not a stupid man. He is educated and well-spoken. At times, he is quite impressive in what he says. I don't know if he actually believes these conspiracy theories or he is simply standing up there and lying to young and impressionable students. While he was responding to me, I turned to look at the audience to see if they were buying into his conspiracy tales. As I said, almost all were Muslim students and they seemed impassive. (as I sat down, one young Muslim girl in hajib was actually smiling at me in what I perceived as a friendly, not mocking manner.
All in all, "My story" degenerated into the MSU's featured speaker bashing the US Government as an evil entity. Yet.....
A couple of things Ali said should be taken seriously. He stated-and repeated, "Islam is coming. Islam is coming." he also pointed out, correctly in my view, that the more our society and our leaders are corrupted, the more Islam will grow.
Much of what Ali says should be condemned. Some other things he says can be laughed away.
That final comment, I think, bears remembering.