The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan acknowledges applause from attendees before delivering the keynote address at Saviours' Day Sunday February 26, 2012 at the United Center. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times
Updated: March 28, 2012 8:11AM
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 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 do not 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 cheered and laughter erupted.
However, Farrakhan also criticized Obama, whom 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.
Farrakhan also had high praise for the Rev. Michael Pfleger. He said Pfleger has been a stronger advocate of justice “than most black preachers in Chicago.” Pfleger is a white priest who runs a largely black church, St. Sabina Catholic Church on the South Side. Pfleger has made racial equality a cornerstone of his work. Pfleger was in attendance at the Saviours’ Day event.