Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan said Sunday that President Barack Obama has suffered more criticism than any other president because of his race and it has created a negative climate that could lead to assassination attempts on the first Black president.
The leader of the Chicago-based movement addressed thousands at the group’s annual convention in a wide-ranging speech that touched on presidential politics, the national debt, international policy, food, Israel and claims about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, among other topics during the hourslong speech.
Using slides and photographs before the crowd at the United Center, Farrakhan spent nearly an hour illustrating disparaging comments about Obama and first lady Michelle Obama made by a current GOP presidential contenders, city leaders nationwide, along with caricatures drawn in other countries depicting Obama as Hitler.
Farrakhan, 78, said that there are people who don’t like having a Black man in the White House and particularly blamed Republicans, criticizing nearly the entire field of Republican candidates seeking the presidential nomination.
“They have called President Barack Obama a racist, an anti-Semite, a socialist, a communist, a foreigner, an alien and some have even called him a terrorist,” Farrakhan said. “Obama has really got them upset. Republicans are looking for some white person. Anybody. Anybody. ”
Farrakhan said the comments, along with those around Obama who he said are manipulating him, are creating a negative atmosphere that could make him a one-term president. It’s a claim that Farrakhan has touched on in years past, but he discussed it more explicitly Sunday.
“They’ve said over and over that he is Muslim when he’s Christian. Well, President, you might as well come and join us. Then we’ll get something done,” Farrakhan joked.
The crowd, men dressed in navy uniforms and women in formal white skirt-suits with matching head scarves, cheered and laughter erupted.
However, Farrakhan also criticized Obama, who the movement has praised and celebrated since his 2008 election. He claimed that Obama has not properly characterized the country’s financial situation to the public, has not done enough to encourage Black people and has made too many concessions when it comes to Israel.
The speech — titled “What Will 2012 Bring to America, the World and Black and Oppressed People” — capped a weekend of events for the group’s annual Saviours’ Day convention, which commemorate the religion’s founding. The Chicago-based movement has preached Black nationalism and self-reliance since the 1930s, though in recent years it has reached out to other groups including immigrants.
The theme of self-reliance was woven throughout Farrakhan’s speech as he called on followers to look to their owns lives for reform, including calling out mothers for relying on fast food for their children instead of cooking and pushing them to examine their own lives when it comes to debt, which he said is causing America’s decline as a world leader.
“America is indeed not only in a decline but in a great and steady fall from which she does not seem to have the ability to stop. There’s a very small window of opportunity for America,” he said. “But all of us have to look at the crookedness of our own ways. Not only does America need to be straightened out, all of us need to be straightened out.”
Farrakhan also discussed claims that the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center were not the result of a terrorist attack but an invention of the American government. He said they were lies to advance some people over others. The Nation of Islam has made similar anti-government claims in the past suggesting crack cocaine might have been a CIA plot to enslave Blacks.
Farrakhan also echoed a past theme of his, that recent severe weather episodes worldwide are an omen of bad things to come, but he offered few specifics.