Louis Farrakhan’s ties to politicians, celebrities run deep
It was all smiles when Louis Farrakhan strode into a weekly luncheon for the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington DC, where he had been invited to address the most powerful black lawmakers in the country.
The year was 2005, and the Nation of Islam boss was greeted by a new up-and-comer among their ranks, a senator from Illinois — Barack Obama.
“He is much better looking than I am,” Obama said, according to Askia Muhammad, a photographer who snapped an image of the future president glad-handing the divisive, anti-Semitic minister.
Muhammad — recognizing the potentially dangerous impact the photo could have on Obama’s well-known White House ambitions — kept the picture buried for 13 years before releasing the image in his book “The Autobiography of Charles 67X” in 2018.
Obama has repeatedly denounced Farrakhan when asked about him.
Muhammad — a Nation of Islam member — was probably right to be worried. In his decades in public life, Farrakhan has attacked Jewish people as “satanic;” publicly questioned the Holocaust; blamed Jews for the African slave trade; condemned Judaism as a “dirty religion;” and praised Hitler as a “great man” — financed by Jews.
He has called white people “potential humans” and accused the “white right” of trying to have Obama assassinated. Nation of Islam theology holds that white people are a creation of an evil black scientist named Yakub. Gay marriage is also “satanic” and was only introduced to Africa by whites.
He also denies Osama bin Laden planned the 9/11 attacks, calling it a “false flag operation” meant to divert American attention away from President Bush “stealing” the 2000 election.
His decades of virulent bigotry towards Jews, whites and the LGBT community has been documented at length by the Anti-Defamation League. Even the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center has declared him a “deeply racist, antisemitic and anti-gay” extremist who leads an organized hate group.
Nevertheless, the 87-year-old minister has wormed his way into the highest echelons of political and celebrity culture and created a fresh round of controversy for sports stars DeSean Jackson and Allen Iverson and actor Nick Cannon, who publicly embraced him or his ideas in recent days.
On a recent episode of his YouTube talk show “Cannon’s Class,” the “The Masked Singer” host plugged Farrakhan and promoted a number of bizarre anti-Semitic and racial theories. Jackson praised Farrakhan and shared a quote, falsely attributed to Hitler, warning that Jews were planning to “blackmail” and “extort” America. Iverson posted a photo of him meeting Farrakhan with the hashtag “bucket list.”
Jackson, Cannon and Iverson all apologized, but the record shows these celebs are far from alone in promoting the Bronx-born hatemonger.
In 2015 Kanye West and wife Kim Kardashian met with Farrakhan and stood for a happy photo, posted to Instagram by rapper CyHi da Prynce.
“Me [Kanye] and @kimkardashian went to see the Minister @louisfarrakhan and I was honored the words he spoke to us were very encouraging,” da Prynce wrote, adding that West asked him to drop some beats for the minister, which he did.
Nick CannonTiffany Rose/Getty Images for Lupus LA
Farrakhan has been a guest on Charlamagne Tha God’s radio show “The Breakfast Club” — which also hosted multiple 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. In one 2016 appearance, Farrakhan praised the show for having him on because it allowed his message to reach younger audiences.
“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan discusses why women should dress conservatively to not attract evil men [and] black men being feminized,” read a YouTube description of the interview’s contents.
Farrakhan has also been embraced by black media. In 2015, BET ran a fawning photo series commemorating the 20th anniversary of the hate boss’ Million Man March on Washington. Images featured a who’s who of musicians with the minister, including Killer Mike, Young Thug, Mos Def and Jay Electronica.
When Aretha Franklin died in 2018, a somber Farrakhan was photographed mourning alongside Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Bill Clinton. Farrakhan said he and the queen of soul had a decades-long relationship.
The Bronx-born Farrakhan also has white celebrity fans like Chelsea Handler and Jessica Chastain, who both approvingly posted decades-old videos of him debating audience members on the “Phil Donahue Show” to their Instagram accounts.
“I learned a lot from watching this powerful video,” Handler — who is Jewish — said at the time. She later apologized.
The minister himself is active on social media, particularly Twitter, where his hateful sermons are broadcast to more than 348,000 followers. The tech giant — known for kicking off users for woke transgressions like “misgendering” — has refused countless calls over the years to ban his account.
Many elected officials have found Farrakhan alluring as well. Powerful members of Congress like Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Al Green (D-TX) have been seen hugging the minister. Noted “Squad” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) penned an Op-Ed for the Nation of Islam blog in 2006.
Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL) — who has served in the House since 1997 — praised Farrakhan in 2018. “I personally know him. I’ve been to his home, done meetings, participated in events with him,” he told the Daily Caller, adding Farrakhan is an “outstanding human being.”
Even former Secretary of State Colin Powell has posed with Farrakhan, in 2002 at an independence celebration in Jamaica.
The minister’s reach extends deep into New York City. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblyman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) reportedly met with him behind closed doors in 2015 when he visited the Big Apple as part of a multi-city tour. The confab was denounced by the ADL.
“We are extremely disturbed that any elected representative, particularly those with strong records of condemning anti-Semitism and racism, could turn a blind eye to the bigotry of Minister Louis Farrakhan,” Evan R. Bernstein, then-ADL New York regional director said at the time.
Farrakhan also famously infiltrated the Women’s March, with top leaders like Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory being known devotees. The latter activist posed in photos with Farrakhan, attended his sermons and calls him “The GOAT.” Farrakhan’s troops provided security for movement leaders.
“A lot of what he says makes sense to black people and he’s been around forever,” said Carol Swain, a former professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, explaining his appeal. “He’s like an institution in the black community and some of the stuff he says and some of the work that the Nation of Islam did in the past was seen for the betterment of black people.”