Uncommon Ground: Introduction

It is the grimmest of ironies: in a grotesque parody of interracial cooperation, extremists from the white and African-American communities have joined rhetorical forces to attack Jews, and demean and deny the reality of the Holocaust. This report addresses these concerns by focusing on a relatively new hate group, based in Brooklyn, New York, and active in the African-American community, called the Black African Holocaust Council (BAHC), which has made explicit use of Holocaust-denying and other white extremist propaganda; and by examining previous contacts between white and Black anti-Semites.

Since 1991, the Black African Holocaust Council — founded by Nation of Islam (NOI) member Eric Muhammad, though apparently organized independent of the Nation itself — has devoted itself to advancing NOI’s familiar anti-Semitic and Black separatist doctrines through rallies, lectures, and a publication titled The Holocaust Journal. Thus far, Muhammad has achieved only limited success in uniting his community through fear and hatred of Jews. Most BAHC meetings have been sparsely attended, and the group’s ideology represents only the worst extreme of bigotry in the African-American community. But though BAHC is hardly representative of most Black Americans, an analysis of the organization’s beliefs and activities gives a sense of where unchecked prejudice can lead; it provides one of the most concentrated examples of anti-Semitic propagandizing in the African-American community today. Moreover, only early exposure of this group can ensure that its message of hate does not spread unchallenged to a wider segment of the community.

Indeed, the potential to ignite the bigotry of large numbers of people through these activities was amply illustrated by a now-notorious April 19, 1994, rally at Washington, D.C.’s Howard University, at which speakers such as NOI’s Khalid Muhammad, conspiracy-theorist Steve Cokely, and college professors Tony Martin and Leonard Jeffries joined in a four-hour litany of anti-Semitic scapegoating and vilification before an audience of more than 2,000. Each of these speakers has also spoken before the Black African Holocaust Council; as such, BAHC can be regarded as a regular forum for the kind of intense hatemongering and rabble-rousing on display at Howard during the April 19 rally.

Of equal concern as BAHC’s efforts to galvanize the African-American community to the cause of Jew-hatred is the source of much of their propaganda. The first issue of The Holocaust Journal, for example, advertises a BAHC lecture at which a video attacking the historical veracity of the gas chambers at Auschwitz, produced by the largest Holocaust-denying group in the world, the Institute for Historical Review, was shown. The publication also advertised two books written by the conspiracy-theorist Eustace Mullins, who has been aligned with white supremacist and right-wing extremist groups for more than 40 years. The Holocaust Journal’s most disturbing link to the white supremacist movement as an editorial by BAHC leader Eric Muhammad; this feature lifts material, in some cases word-for-word, from an anti-Semitic, anti-Black essay by long-time neo-Nazi William Pierce.

How could Eric Muhammad, supposedly so committed to the education and liberation of the African-American community, read Pierce’s gutter-level attacks against Blacks and Jews and conclude that this provided him with an ideological and rhetorical model worthy of emulation? To attempt to explain this, one must understand the history of Black and white extremist efforts to collaborate. Thus, this report reviews the instances in which the Nation of Islam has endorsed the propaganda of Holocaust denial. The publication also reviews the career of Robert Brock, an African-American extremist who has regularly made common cause with white racists and anti-Semites — particularly Holocaust deniers — and who has evidently established contacts with BAHC lecturers Leonard Jeffries and Khalid Muhammad.

The report also details the endorsement of Black separatists and their anti-Jewish rhetoric by white extremists, from American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell in the 1960s to White Aryan Resistance leader Tom Metzger, among others, in the present day. The nature of this support has ranged from joint meetings and rallies to the use of Black anti-Semitic propaganda, sometimes uncredited, in white hate group phone messages and publications.

More fundamentally, however, this publication seeks to provide further evidence that Black and white extremists share an agenda reflecting greater similarity than is commonly supposed. Part of this similarity derives from the common motivations the two movements share: racial separatism and racial supremacy. Though each group claims to advocate a society independent of the other, their rhetoric in fact demonstrates how much the two depend on one another — as scapegoats and as focal points in the creation of identity. As the noted scholar and philosopher Cornel West has written of the Nation of Islam: “The basic aim of Black Muslim theology — with its distinct Black supremacist account of the origins of white people — was to counter white supremacy. Yet this preoccupation with white supremacy still allowed white people to serve as the principal point of reference. That which fundamentally motivates one still dictates the terms of what one thinks and does — so the motivation of a Black supremacist doctrine reveals how obsessed one is with white supremacy….” (Cornel West, “Malcolm X and Black Rage,” _Race Matters_, 1993, p. 99)

As much as the two movements share mirror-image mythologies and a common goal of racial purity (better described by Professor West as a fear of the “cultural hybrid character” of modern American life), they also share a hatred and fear of Jews. Frequently, this demonization of Jews is attributed to the Jews’ “racial impurity”; as the British propagandist Arnold Leese wrote in the 1930s, using the same pseudo-scientific vocabulary as the Nazis, “The Jews are … a mixture of races, and the racial constituent which is most frequently to be found among them is the Armenoid, or, as it is sometimes called, Hither Asiatic. The other races which have contributed most to Jewish types…are the Mongoloid, Negroid, Oreintal and …Alpine.”

This xenophobic jargon notwithstanding, the ostensible justification for the anti-Semitism of racial separatists is the role Jews have played in integrationist movements. This fixation on Jewish involvement with civil rights has been a staple of contemporary propagandists since Henry Ford’s seminal The International Jew, which blamed racial tensions in the South on Jews who financed “so-called ‘Negro welfare societies'” and sold “nigger gin.” Such a position was echoed by Ford’s contemporary, the Black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, who denounced Jews involved with the NAACP as “spies for the rest of the white race”; the Ku Klux Klan from the 1920s to the present has similarly justified its anti-Semitism by blaming Jews for the downfall of white hegemony. In general terms, virtually every significant racial-segregationist movement in this century has scapegoated and vilified Jews in its rhetoric and ideology.

Groups such as the Black African Holocaust Council typically draw their support from the most alienated and disenfranchised segment of the Black community. The Black African Holocaust Council and its cohorts seek to exploit this despair by promoting a retreat from the concept of integration in favor of an ideology which would distract its adherents from the genuine problems of their community and focus their attention on ignorant and malicious accusations against Jews made by hatemongers, both Black and white. All Americans committed to pluralism and democracy should be aware of movements which potentially imperil these ideals by promoting the poison of bigotry.