Thursday, September 29, 2016

exp. 4: making sense of the 60s by vik ball

     The Nation of Islam is a cult consisting of fringe Islam, black supremacy and antisemitism. Although they claim to be followers of Islam, they hold very little connection to the beliefs of mainstream Islam. Traditionally xenophobic and Black supremacist, to the point of naming all people of European descent "White Devils" and "potential humans". They also believe the Jew is responsible for most of the evil done in this world, and that a mad scientist named Yakuba created all other races from the Blackman through a special method of birth control.
In the 1930s, Wallace D. Fard opened the first NOI mosque in Detroit. Three years after he began teaching, he disappeared, passing the leadership of the NOI to Elijah Mohammad, who then proceeded to deify Mr. Fard, claiming he was God's physical return to the earth from Mecca.
It was under Elijah Mohammad that the Nation of Islam fully realized its distinctly non-Sunni Isalm beliefs. Under his leadership, the Nation of Islam became primarily a socio-political black activist and separatist group, guided and informed by the new religion. Elijah Mohammad taught that blacks were the first people, and were the original Muslims.
One of the most famous African American leaders (Malcom X) began his religious teachings as a Nation of Islam convert. He was responsible for popularizing the NOI in the 1950s. However, after visiting Mecca, Malcolm learned that the NOI had nothing to do with actual Islam and began practicing a mainstream version of the faith. He was later murdered by NOI members for speaking out against Elijah Mohammed in 1965.
After Elijah Mohammad's death in 1975, his son, Warith Deen Mohammad, brought the organization to a more mainstream Islamic position, which came to be known as the American Society of Muslims. Much later, Louis Farrakhan led a group of supporters who returned the Nation of Islam to more extremist positions, including extreme racism, and antisemitism.

Malcolm X Collecting Money for the Black Muslims, 1960
     In "The Dentist", O'Brien describes a story in which Curt Lemon's facade of toughness is shattered, with an unexpected ending. After the dentist visits, seemingly "tough guy" Lemon faints, and proceeds to mope afterwards, since his imagined persona is shattered. In order to remedy this, he has the dentist remove one of his teeth. This passage is a fascinating look into the personality that is Curt Lemon, and O'Brien excels at describing the actions that this disturbed individual takes.
     In "Sweetheart of The Song Tra Bong", a soldier brings his girlfriend to Vietnam, and as the story progresses, she undergoes drastic personality changes. This passage is an excellent character study, because as Rat Kiley describes the story, numerous details are left out, in favor of maintaining the linear progression. It is clear to see that the woman's change in demeanor and action are the sole focus here.


  1. It is interesting how a movement centered around peace can be so corrupt and hypocritical

  2. I find it interesting that The Nation of Islam believed in the exact opposite of what the whites believed, that they were the supremacy race.

  3. I find it interesting that Malcolm X helped put the NOI on America's radar to promote change, and was betrayed by that same organization who assassinated him.

  4. Crazy how peace can easily turn into violence


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