Jew-Hatred as History
Post-Mortem on "The Secret Relationship"
Posted: December 31, 2001
Clearly a book such as The Secret Relationship has no more merit as a work of scholarship than its "secret" predecessors, The International Jew and The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. It moreover shares little in common with the original historical research that its authors have manipulated and distorted to arrive at their conclusions. The Secret Relationship does, however, perpetuate a tradition of mythmaking and demagoguery that is seemingly integral to the Nation of Islam. In his groundbreaking study, The Black Muslims in America (1961), the first book published on the NOI, C. Eric Lincoln describes a typical service conducted by the group. Among other observations, Lincoln notes:
Often the minister reads passages from well-known historical' sociological or anthropological works and finds in them inconspicuous references to the Black Man's true history in the world.... Occasionally the minister chides the audience for its skepticism: "I know you don't believe me because I happen to be a Black Man. Well, you can look it up in a book I'm going to tell you about that was written by a white man." He then reads off references which his hearers are challenged to check for themselves. A single documented statement, however, may become the basis of a wide range of generalized non-sequiturs.The fact that a North Carolina slaveholder had an Arabic-speaking Moslem slave of unusual mathematical ability may be offered as evidence that all slaves brought to America were Moslem, Arabic-speaking and learned.
Similarly, historical facts may be indiscriminately mingled with myths and countermyths (Lincoln, pp. 120-121)
The Secret Relationship does, however, perpetuate a tradition of mythmaking and demagoguery that is seemingly integral to the Nation of Islam.
Jew Hatred and the Conspiratorial Mentality
To put the phenomenon which The Secret Relationship exemplifies into perspective, it is useful to consider the work of another scholar writing in the 1960s, Professor Richard Hofstadter. In his noted essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," (1964) Hofstadter describes the recurring obsessions and logical weaknesses that have dominated extremist thought in the United States. Even a casual reading of his analysis indicates that the Historical Research Department has appropriated the style of argumentation and the apocalyptic world view - as well as the hatred of Jews - traditionally associated with the fringes of the radical right. Hofstadter defines the basic elements of the paranoid style by writing:
The central image is that of a vast and sinister conspiracy, a gigantic and yet subtle machinery of influence set in motion to undermine and destroy a way of life...The distinguishing thing about the paranoid style is not that its exponents see conspiracies or plots here and there in history, but that they regard a "vast" or "gigantic" conspiracy as the motive force in historical events... [The] enemy is clearly delineated: he is a perfect model of malice, a kind of amoral superman: sinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury-loving. Unlike the rest of us, the enemy is not caught in the toils of the vast mechanism of history, himself a victim of his past, his desires, his limitations. He is a free, active, demonic agent.... Very often the enemy is held to possess some especially effective source of power: he controls the press; he directs the public mind through "managed news"; he has unlimited funds...he is gaining a stranglehold on the educational system... One of the impressive things about paranoid literature is precisely the elaborate concerns with demonstration it almost invariably shows...
The typical procedure of the higher paranoid scholarship is to start with...defensible assumptions and with a careful accumulation of facts, or at least of what appear to be facts, and to marshal these facts toward an overwhelming "proof" of the particular conspiracy that is to be established. It is nothing if not coherent - in fact, the paranoid mentality is far more coherent than the real world, since it leaves no room for mistakes, failures, or ambiguities.....
(Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays, pp. 29-37)
Alienation as a source of Anti-Semitism
The Historical Research Department has appropriated the style of argumentation and the apocalyptic world view - as well as the hatred of Jews - traditionally associated with the fringes of the radical right.
Professor Hofstadter adds another observation on the paranoid style which perhaps illuminates why a book such as The Secret Relationship has appeared at this moment in American history. He states, "...the fact that movements employing the paranoid style are not constant but come in successive episodic waves suggests that the paranoid disposition is mobilized into action chiefly by social conflicts that involve ultimate schemes of values and that bring fundamental fears and hatreds, rather than negotiable interests, into political action. Catastrophe or the fear of catastrophe is most likely to elicit the syndrome of paranoid rhetoric." (Hofstadter, p. 39) Catastrophe or the fear of catastrophe; these terms certainly describe one aspect of the contemporary African-American experience - perhaps the aspect with which the targeted audience of The Secret Relationship is most familiar. Decades of mismanagement and neglect of the inner city, the breakdown of family structures, as well as the persistence of unvarnished racism have inflicted on the African-American community a disproportionate burden of unemployment, poverty, disease, illiteracy, imprisonment, unwanted pregnancy, infant mortality, and despair. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that some members of this community feel so alienated from American society that they respond to and identify with the Nation of Islam's tainted message.