Sunday, March 28, 2010

Abdullah Rally: Who's Zoomin' Who?

Well, shut my mouth. Here I am complaining that CAIR-MI’s Dawud Walid can’t back up his claim that concern about the death of radical mosque leader Imam Abdullah is escalating across various faiths, then I see reports this morning about a standing-room only mass rally of religious leaders from across--no, wait, check that.

It wasn’t exactly a mass rally--it was only “about 150 people.” But anyway, the rally was organized by religious leaders from across various faiths and-- no, hold it, wait. Sorry.

No, it says in the newspapers that the rally was co-sponsored by the Detroit branch of the NAACP and the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, (not religious groups), “and other community organizations.

At least we can be certain that among those other community organizations were representatives of Detroit’s non-Muslim religious communities, like B’nai B’rith, FocusHope, or any of the local Baptist associations--

No, man, wrong again. Looks like the only identifiable religious presence were some sisters from the Nation of Islam. Maybe they’re the “[f]riends, family and supporters” of Abdullah the Detroit News reported seeing there.

At least there’s no doubt about the rally symbolizing how Abdullah’s death is of more than just opportunistic interest to the likes of Dawud Walid and a handful of community organizers. Instead of being held at a mosque, the rally took place at Detroit’s historic New Bethel Baptist Church.

Nah. On second look, the organizers themselves explained they only used the church location as “a sign . . .that Abdullah's death was of concern beyond the Muslim community.” Of course, they’d only need to employ a sign because, as far as anyione can tell, there isn’t any wider concern about Abdullah’s death beyond the Muslim community, (if it’s even that important to most Muslims).

New Bethel’s Rev. Robert Smith, for instance, doesn’t seem all that concerned. He’s quoted saying he “welcomed the rally.” Big deal. That sounds to me like he wasn’t an organizer, or even a participant. I’ll bet all he did was unlock the doors and accept the Detroit NAACP’s payment for use of the historic facilities--in cash.

But the New Bethel location does work as a sign of something else. Historic New Bethel is called “Historic New Bethel” for a couple reasons. One is for having been one of the incubators, along with Pan-African Marxist church, the Shrine of the Black Madonna, of Detroit’s Black Power movement of the 1960s--a movement whose influence (“the Black Slate”) is still felt in Detroit’s profoundly race-poisoned politics to this day. The Black Slate rogue’s gallery includes John Conyers, Coleman Young, Barbara Rose Collins, Bernard Kilpatrick and Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick, and their bouncing baby boy, Kwame, among others.

New Bethel was also the scene of a major shootout and police raid involving a violent Malcolm X inspired paramilitary group, the Republic of New Afrika (RNA). That incident began when a policeman, who had not even drawn his weapon, was gunned down without provocation by an RNA shooter.

It was the historic C.L. Franklin, father of the historic Aretha Franklin, who was pastor of the historic New Bethel Baptist at the time. Franklin welcomed the RNA to use his church for a meeting on the night of the shootout, an invitation the RNA accepted, guns and all. After the shootout and its aftermath settled down some, Franklin invited the RNA to come back any time.

Abayomi Azikiwe, who occasionally provides the third tenor with Dawud Walid and Ron Scott as they warble about Abdullahgate, has fond memories of his past connections with the RNA, which he wrote about in 2002.

Azikiwe believes the RNA was “liquidated” by the FBI COINTELPRO, just like Abdullah!

So it was really more a reunion than a rally.

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