Thursday, June 30, 2005

World-Herald LIES About Malcolm X

by Kyle Michaelis
This is unforgiveable. This goes beyond our on-going series on "The Twisted World of Harold W. Andersen" because, in today's column, the former World-Herald publisher and contributing editor flat-out lies to his readers.

There has been a movement in Nebraska for some years, particularly from Omaha's black community, to honor the memory of Omaha-born Malcolm X, be it with a park or by induction into the Nebraska Hall of Fame as, I believe, its first black member. In an obvious attempt to discredit and dismiss these efforts, Andersen runs through a litany of Malcolm's most outrageous statements and actions from his days as a militant preacher in Elijiah Muhammad's Nation of Islam, supposedly providing the "full story" to prevent his idealization by admirers.

Well, I think Andersen is being an idiot on this one because he shows a fundamental lack of understanding that it is precisely Malcolm X's life-long growth spiritually and as a leader of the black community that makes him so important to American history. His anger was righteous, even when over the top, making his redemption an instance of true American divinity. Malcolm's conversion to a more peaceful and hopeful form of Islam and community-building speaks to the very best in us all, especially those who have faced and continue to face adversity and oppression.

It is not Andersen's deceitful lack of understanding, though, that ultimately makes his latest column so treacherous. Instead, it is his saying the following to cast doubts on Malcolm's ties to his birthplace that draws my ire, as it should everyone who reads it:
Incidentally but importantly, in view of the continuing pressure to build some kind of memorial to Malcolm in Omaha because he was born here, the sole mention of Malcolm's link to Nebraska is covered in exactly two sentences in "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," written by Alex Haley with Malcolm's cooperation. The two sentences: "My mother was 28 when I was born on May 19, 1925, in an Omaha hospital. Then we moved to Milwaukee."

If Malcolm X felt any tie at all to the city and state of his birth, it certainly doesn't show up in this autobiography. This hardly adds weight to the campaign to build a memorial honoring Malcolm as "a native son," ranking as a civil-rights leader with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whom, it should be remembered, Malcolm consistently criticized as a "traitor to the Negro people."

LIAR! LIAR! Has Andersen even read the autobiography on which he speaks so authoritatively? Doee he truly know anything about the life of Malcolm X that he is so quick to judge? The quote Andersen uses is on the second page of Malcolm's book. Two sentences earlier Malcolm had just mentioned Omaha. More importantly, showing the true depth of Andersen's incompetent betrayal, the preceding page - the very first paragraph in the entire book - opens with this passage:
When my mother was pregnant with me, she told me later, a party of hooded Ku Klux Klan riders galloped up to our home in Omaha, Nebraska, one night. Surrounding the house, brandishing their shotguns and rifles, they shouted for my father to come out. My mother went to the front door and opened it. Standing where they could see her pregnant condition, she told them that she was alone with her three small children, and that my father was away, preaching, in Milwaukee. The Klansmen shouted threats and warnings at her that we had better get out of town because "the good Christian white people" were not going to stand for my father's "spreading trouble" among the "good" Negroes of Omaha with the "back to Africa" preachings of Marcus Garvey....

Still shouting threats, the Klansmen finally spurred their horses and galloped around the house, shattering every window pane with their gun butts. Then they rode off into the night, their torches flaring, as suddenly as they had come.

My father was enraged when he returned. He decided to wait until I was born - which would be soon - and then the family would move.

See for yourself. And, I know for a fact that Malcolm references this Omaha terrorist activity later in the book because, as anyone can see from reading the book's OPENING PARAGRAPH, it was an important development in making him the man he would become. The experience, while Malcolm was still in his mother's womb, hangs over the entire story, as it likely did his entire life.

This is pretty low journalism even by the Omaha World-Herald's Andersen-corrupted standards. Just pathetic. It's about time people demand better than this, not as a matter of simple fact-checking...mistakes can happen to anybody...but that the OWH immediately admit to and cease their twisting of facts and, here, making them up to serve their ideological interests. This is unconscionable and can not be allowed to stand.

It is also ironic that Andersen's last column, on Sunday, suggested it was foolish for the U.S. Senate to pass a resolution apologizing for failure to enact anti-lynching legislation in the decades following the abolition of slavery. Poor timing, old white man. I won't sink so low as to suggest the beating of hoofs and breaking of glass in Andersen's unfortunate choice of topics, but ask yourself this: if such circumstances surrounded someone the World-Herald disagreed with politically would they extend the same courtesy?

No, they'd go for the jugular, as they do every time they attack Howard Dean and as they did over Executive Director of the Democratic Party Barry Rubin's tame-by-comparison "Tio Tomas" comment. Already cartoonist Jeff Koterba would have Andersen wearing a white hood and carrying a torch in tomorrow's paper. This incident stinks. This newspaper stinks. And I'm sick of its stench polluting this great state. Be outraged! Let's give them hell.

Andersen must be made to apologize - for his lying to the public and for his libeling of Malcolm X, whose family was terrorized and driven away by "the good Christian white people" of Omaha. A park can not even begin to atone for sins such as that, but it would be a nice gesture to honor those who continue the fight. Andersen should also be forced to actually read Malcolm X's autobiography that he might finally learn something about tolerance and overcoming ones own ignorant bigotry.

In fact, the paper's entire staff, especially its editorial board, should get enlightened alongside him. Because one day, and I hope it will be soon, "the chickens will come home to roost", even for the mighty World-Herald.


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