Hip-Hop Fridays: Ezekiel 33, The BET Awards Show and Minister Farrakhan's Call For An International Peace Conference
I sat in rapt attention as Minister Louis Farrakhan informed several multi-platinum Hip-Hop artists that he would like for them to rap about the African Union and the Middle East conflict. His request was applauded and several artists reacted positively to the suggestion. The Minister further indicated that he would make himself available to the artists to further discuss the details and history of both the African Union and the Middle East conflict. His message on "foreign affairs" to the Hip-Hop artists was weaved into one of atonement, responsibility and reconciliation in "domestic" affairs. That was last June at Russell Simmons' 1st Hip-Hop Summit in New York City. Since that time both the African Union and Middle East conflict have moved forward.
Since September 11th there has been a noticeable increase in the introspective nature of all Americans, including the Hip-Hop community. But in general, overall, music lyrics have remained mired in the urban radio and music video-enveloped format of dance music, ice, thongs and guns, and lest we forget -"Big Trucks" - and still others, who, in the vehicle of their choice, might be "sittin' on dubs."
In that sense the Minister's message and exhortations, unfortunately, for years, in how they have largely been responded to, reminded me of Ezekiel 33: 30-33:
30 "As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, 'Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD .' 31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.
33 "When all this comes true-and it surely will-then they will know that a prophet has been among them."
That the Minister, in a unique way, since 1989, has been saying that the United States government has hatched a high and low-level "war on drugs" and a war on street organizations ultimately aimed at Black people and Muslims, gives verse 33 a special relevance to the Hip-Hop community, in light of what we are being moved toward, at an accelerated pace, since September 11th, 2001.
Of course the word "prophet" has to be understood properly and from a variety of theological and religious perspectives and traditions.
All of this came to my mind after reading the the Minister's call for an international peace conference juxtaposed to the display of frivolity and near-violence witnessed this week at the BET Music awards. While the Minister, at risk to his health and life, pleads for the lives of the Hip-Hop community and so many more, the community's most popular figures are immersed in almost the maximum heights of materialism, apathy, and cultural degeneracy, as the world's youth and "not-so young" follow, admire and even worship them.
I wonder what Bob Johnson, the brilliant billionaire of BET, who too, has expressed his personal respect for Minister Farrakhan, and who provided valuable assistance in promoting the Million Man March must have felt like as he witnessed what was on display at the BET awards. After much of the Hip-Hop and R&B awards were dispensed with, and a tense confrontation took place in the building, Bob Johnson was involved in an awards presentation with the great gospel performer, Bobby Jones. Of all of the Hip-Hop and R&B performers in attendance and who have helped make Mr. Johnson millions, he would be most visibly seen with a cultural artist who aims to feed the spirit. Why wouldn't Mr. Johnson want to be seen next to artists that are most responsible for his wealth and the "success" of his network? This subject goes well beyond the events of that particular night.
I wondered, in my mind, as I watched, did Mr. Johnson feel that his association with Bobby Jones and gospel music during BET's history and the awards show, wash his hands of his role in the proliferation of the "ice and thong" era and the implications of such. There was a multi-layered message to be gleaned in how the show attempted to highlight its gospel and "classic soul" content. How much gospel and classic soul is seen on a daily basis at BET, when compared to R&B and Hip-Hop content?
Two questions came to my mind since the show: 1)How many people who are attracted to Hip-Hop are clear that significant aspects of its culture are being pimped by individuals who almost wouldn't be caught dead in public with the leading practitioners of the rhyming artform; nor allow their children to spend mindless hours in front of the product that they offer to everyone else. 2)With Black (oriented and/or owned) entertainment and media reaping wealth and material prosperity from filth, degeneracy and less important aspects of life how is it possible to create a mass movement of political, social and spiritual "consciousness?"
Interestingly, there will be no music industry when World War III fully breaks out. Everybody's minds will be too pre-occupied to sing...or rap.
We all got a small preview of that on the week of September 11th, when for a few days, MTV and eventually, though slowly, BET, were forced to change programming and teach current events rather than parade naked women, jewelry, "cribs" and drugged-out "leaders." What will be the next event causing a similar response?
Just some thoughts, all of which are relevant to the lack of understanding, gross ignorance, disinterest, and discomfort among some Black people of and for what the Minister is currently doing abroad.
Have we not all been put to sleep and made dumb, to varying degrees, by "Black" entertainment, not to mention this country's educational system?
June 28, 2002
Farrakhan calls for International Peace Conference
sponsored by UN, moratorium on violence in Israel
[Editor's note: The following statement was delivered June 25, 2002 by Minister Louis Farrakhan during a press conference held in Doha, Qatar, where he was on the first leg of his Peace Mission to the Middle East and Africa.]
As-Salaam-Alaikum. In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
My dear brothers and sisters of the press, we have called this press conference, first, to thank the Government of Qatar and its leader, His Royal Highness, Emir Althani, for their gracious reception of myself and my delegation. We thank the Ambassador Dafa, the Foreign Ministry, and the Ministers of Awqaaf for the warm reception that we had at the Diplomatic Club last evening, and for the kindness that was shown to us by the Police Department and security persons who have looked out for us since we landed in Doha. Our gratitude to all for making our stay in Qatar a most joyous and memorable one.
We also thank His Royal Highness for his official reception of me and my delegation at his palace, and according us the kindness of sharing with us, his counsel, his advice, his good wishes for our journey, and his hopes and prayers that Allah would bless our Peace Mission with success.
On last evening I was very disappointed in the Peace Initiative by my own government as represented by our president, President Bush. I think his advisers caused the President to miss a great opportunity to give hope to the suffering Palestinians, ease the fear, mistrust and even cause the hatred that exists in this part of the world for America to decrease instead of increase.
Unfortunately, the peace initiative was tied to so many concessions expected of the Palestinians, that in my humble judgment, it increases the anger of the Palestinians, their despair and, unfortunately, it increases the desire of some to continue to use their bodies as weapons against Israeli occupation.
There were aspects of President Bush's peace plan that of course are acceptable. But being tied to concessions that will lengthen the time of misery of the Palestinian people is unacceptable.
The European Peace Plan, the Saudi Peace Plan that has been endorsed by the Arab League, the Gadhafi Peace Plan, are plans - along with President Bush's Peace Initiative - that have aspects in these plans that could form a framework for peace.
It reminds me of the surah (chapter) The Bee in the Holy Qur'an, where the bee goes to each flower and extracts the best part of it and then goes away and makes honey, which is a healing for the diseases of mankind. If the wise of the world, in an International Peace Conference, would extract the best that is in each of these plans, they could formulate a framework for peace that would give hope to both sides, that at last this conflict that has been raging for 54 years might come to a peaceful end.
Therefore, we call on the United Nations that helped to create the State of Israel to call for this International Peace Conference under its auspices. At the same time, since Jerusalem is holy and sacred to Christians, Jews, and Muslims, we cannot leave the solution alone in the hands of the politicians. But the religious leaders of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam also have a stake in the resolution of this conflict.
Therefore, the religious leaders of the three faiths of Abraham should be called together simultaneously to look at this problem from the base of the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur'an, to add their voices to the political voices and perhaps in so doing, the Palestinian people as well as the Israeli people will find some measure of hope that this long, dark night of hatred, violence and bloodshed may end.
Such a Peace Conference involving the leaders of the world and the religious leaders of all three of the faiths of Abraham cannot go forward in an atmosphere of violence. Therefore, I am imploring the Government of Israel to allow me to enter Israel that I might speak to the leaders of Hamas, the Al Aqsa Brigade, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad, and also Chairman Arafat, to ask them if they would agree to a 90- to 120-day moratorium on suicide bombings, and all forms of violence.
I am asking Prime Minister Sharon, if we get such a word and agreement from these parties, that all of the tanks and the soldiers that are presently occupying Palestinian towns come out of these towns, and this very expensive wall that the Israelis are building, let it cease. And let all give peace a chance.
I believe that this is the opportune time for peace because it is the darkest hour in the 54-year history of this State of Israel, and it is the darkest hour in the suffering of the Palestinian people.
But as Almighty God Allah brought light out of darkness, I believe, now that the whole world is interested in seeing a peaceful resolution to this conflict, that this is the time that all should concentrate on peace in the Middle East.
And should God bless us to create a peaceful resolution to this conflict in The Holy Land, then with our combined will, we can produce peace throughout our planet.
We must put a stop to murder and war that the children of our planet may have a future.
Friday, June 28, 2002