The Autobiography of Malcolm X is a case study in misdirected anger at social injustice. Malcolm X said so himself, after visiting Mecca, stating, “I was trying to turn a corner, into a new regard by the public, especially Negroes; I was no less angry than I had been, but at the same time the true brotherhood I had seen in the Holy World had influenced me to recognize that anger can blind human vision.” We are witnessing a similar misdirected anger in America today. The causes are diverse, from unemployment to health care to gun control – but the venom of anger remains the same – blinding American vision.
Most sane people of the 21st Century acknowledge the injustice to African-Americans in the past four hundred years. Malcolm X took up that cause in the late 1940’s, swinging the angry sword of the all-Black Nation of Islam. Malcolm X told his life story to Alex Haley over a two year period – the last two years of Malcolm X’s life. It was in these two years that Malcolm X showed his true self – a man of intellect, courage, and an open mind. It is the open mind that qualifies a man recovering from ill-advised action with misdirected anger.
Malcolm initially joined the Nation of Islam while in prison. Elijah Muhammad, the wacko leader of the organization, capitalized on Malcolm’s distorted reality. That reality could only see the white man as the devil incarnate – there was no room for rational discourse. The greatness of Malcolm X was not in his tremendous charm, charisma, intellect, and public speaking skills. The greatness of Malcolm X rested in his open mind – his willingness to continue learning, to consider the possibility that he had been wrong in past judgements.
The Elijah Muhammad’s of 21st Century America are found in the right wing radio personalities and in the fringe of the Republican Party. People like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter, and the entire FOX media system. These are people who use distortion of reality to ferment, distill, and bottle the anger of misguided masses. They sell their potions of angry snake oil from the backs of their wagons every day. They have but one target – any form of civil progress as debated and negotiated by our representative Government.
Elijah Muhammad defined the ‘white man’ as the devil. The conservative fringe movement defines the Government of the United States of America as the representative of the devil. These people represent a greater threat to the American way of life than any Nazi or Communist ever imagined. Any proposal of greater human dignity is met with chants of irrational anger. Elijah Muhammad lived in a palace in Arizona – paid for by the sweat of his followers. Limbaugh, Glenn, Coulter, and many Republicans such as the two Senators from Kansas, live lavishly on the sweat of hard working Americans. It is to the advantage of the snake oil salesmen to keep the masses in turmoil.
The simple dignity of receiving equal health care in the most materially prosperous country in the world is billed by the serpents of pseudo-conservatives as some monstrous act of Nazi terrorism. The same people who advocate legalizing marijuana also advocate arming the drug-crazed loony with the latest in sophisticated military assault weapons. Every argument turns on one point – anger at the Government of the United States of America.
As Malcolm X learned, the devil is not the ‘white man.’ The devil is misdirected anger. In the early 21st Century, the devil is not the Government of the United States, the devil is the intentional promotion of distorted anger.