When a Ukrainian immigrant murdered Ennis Cosby, the son of Bill and Camille Cosby, Mrs. Cosby blamed America. She wrote, "I believe America taught our son's killer to hate African-Americans." Reeling from the pain of her loss, Cosby's lashing-out deserves understanding and empathy, but this does not make what she wrote any less wrong. The shooter killed Ennis. That's why prosecutors charged him, convicted him and threw him in jail.
Cosby's piece suggests that white racism toward blacks thwarts black American progress. Nonsense. Polls show white acceptance of blacks at an all-time high. In 1958, for example, only 35 percent of Americans would vote for a black person for president. As of 1997, the figure rose to 93 percent.
So let's apply the Cosby blame game to the apparent Beltway sniper lead triggerman – John Allen Muhammad. What about John Allen Muhammad's apparent mindset of anti-Americanism and religious intolerance? Muhammad, 41, fit the sniper profile of a loser. Two failed marriages, child custody battles, one wife obtained a permanent protective order against him, a possible brief imprisonment for a traffic violation, two courts-martial and possibly – though unconfirmed – a dishonorable discharge from the military as well as more than one failed business.
But add this to the mix: He belonged to Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, an angry, virulent strain of Islam. According to the Seattle Times, Muhammad openly expressed sympathy for the terrorists who committed the Sept. 11 atrocities. He passed out pro-Islamic literature and spoke openly about his desire to commit violent acts in and against America.
The Nation of Islam's Farrakhan called Judaism a "gutter religion," referred to Adolf Hitler as a great man, and in a book called, "The Secret Relationship of Blacks and Jews," Farrakhan exaggerates the role of Jews in slavery, while minimizing the substantial role of Arab slavers. Farrakhan met with Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Iran's Mohammad Khatami – nations on America's official list of states that sponsor terrorism. Farrakhan condemned Los Angeles-area Korean storeowners as "bloodsuckers."
When Malcolm X defected from the Nation of Islam, Farrakhan wrote, "The die is set and Malcolm shall not escape. Such a man is worthy of death." Over 30 years later, Farrakhan apologized to Malcolm X's daughter, admitting that his words "helped create the atmosphere" that led to Malcolm's assassination.
But decades later, Farrakhan issued another Fatwa-like condemnation of black Washington Post reporter Milton Coleman, who reported Rev. Jesse Jackson's use of "Hymie" and "Hymie Town." About Coleman, Farrakhan said, "We're going to make an example of Milton Coleman. I'm going to try to get every church in Washington, D.C., to put him out whenever he hits the door and tell him he's not wanted. If he brings his wife, she can come in if she leaves him. But if she won't leave him, then you can go to hell with your husband. If he is a traitor and you love to sleep in the bed with a traitor of your people then the same punishment that's due that no-good filthy traitor you'll get it yourself as his wife. One day soon we will punish you with death."
Hargeet Singh, a friend of Muhammad's, said, "In his mind, even black people were no good if they stood with whites or Christians." Authorities now connect Muhammad with the shooting that took place at the only synagogue in Tacoma, Wash.
Did Muhammad convert to Islam out of a sincere, spiritual conversion and awakening? Or, did he convert, as some do, to say, "Screw you," to America, the West and to non-Muslims, thus providing a scapegoat for his failed life?
According to some estimates, blacks comprise nearly half of America's estimated 5 million to 8 million Muslims (although others put the figure much lower). Of that number, according to Sulayman Nyang, with the African Studies department at Howard University, nearly one of 10 Muslims converted in prison. Ziauddin Sardar, described by Time magazine as a "British scholar of Islam," says, "Islam is a sort of natural religion for underdogs." Seized al-Qaida documents suggest American prisons as a source for recruitment of potential terrorists. For most prison inmates, Islam provides structure, a motive, clean life and spiritual salvation. But for some, it serves as a ticket to explain away a failed life, while providing a justification for hatred of non-Muslims, of America, and of Western culture and civilization.
Black "blame America" anger does a number on the black psyche. A Los Angeles Times poll asked blacks earning $50,000 or more a year if everyone has the power to succeed. They answered more pessimistically than did lower-income whites!
Aristotle once said, "Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy."