Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan defended Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, hinting that he was sent from God to help the Libyan people throw off the yoke of colonialism.
The 78-year-old leader of the Chicago-based organization received cheers Friday night from a packed crowd at a civil rights conference at Jackson State University.
Farrakhan said his friend Gadhafi has played the role of a forceful parent in post-colonial Libya.
"When you come out of a colonial past where you have lost the value of your own self-interest, God raises somebody from among you that can instill in you the value of yourself again and that person dictates the path until you have grown into your own self-interest," Farrakhan said of Gadhafi.The minister did not address Gadhafi's alleged role in the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people in 1988.
Farrakhan gave several reasons why the U.S. lacks the moral authority to intervene in the Libyan conflict, including the deaths of black people at the hands of law enforcement during the Rodney King protests in 1991 and the unhealthy food that the federal government allows into the marketplace.
Farrakhan also didn't mention that Gaddafi has given the NOI millions of dollars over the years. Nor did he say anything about the dictator mowing down his own people.
But he had plenty to say about the Jews:
He also alleged that Obama had backed down from pushing a Palestinian-Israeli peace accord and banning settlement-building in the West Bank, calling him "the first Jewish president." Obama is a Christian.
"He was selected before he was elected," Farrakhan said. "And the people that selected him were rich, powerful members of the Jewish community."
Local Jewish leaders this week criticized Farrakhan for distorting historical fact in order to perpetuate harmful stereotypes. The Anti-Defamation League said recently that Farrakhan's anti-Semitism is "obsessive, diabolical and unrestrained."
Farrakhan has over the years denied claims of anti-Semitism, arguing his remarks are often taken out of context and that criticism of Jews in any light automatically earns the "anti-Semite" label. The Nation of Islam has espoused black nationalism and self-reliance since it was founded in the 1930s, though in recent years it has included other groups, including Latinos and immigrants.
Farrakhan was one of Obama's most important endorsers in 2008, due to his influence not only with the NOI but also many in the civil rights community as well. His falling away from the president may prove to be significant as far as the enthusiasm of black Americans for Obama in 2012.