Bring Me The Head

Bloodsucking, headhunting, and other racial myths about new york's reputed black separatist cults

"Well, you say, 'What about killing the devil?' What about that? 'Well, I just had my shotgun and my stuff and I was ready.' No!" Farrakhan declared. "You go break that up. Many of the conflicts that were brought on the Nation, we brought them on ourselves by the ignorant way we handled the wisdom of God. . . . Our Lessons say, 'Why does Muhammad and any Muslim murder the devil?' Because he is 100 percent wicked and will not keep and obey the laws of Islam.' But did you know that every time you save a Black man you have in that same act of salvation killed a devil?"

Farrakhan told his followers, "If you have these weapons, I am telling you I don't need them. I've never asked people to come around me with weapons." But in 1989, a Houston grand jury subpoenaed Farrakhan as part of its investigation into Minister Wattlington's death, a move Farrakhan's attorney dismissed as an attempt by the government to discredit and imprison an outspoken black leader.

In 1994, Lateef still was not convinced that Farrakhan had made it plain he would not tolerate violence against his own brothers or whites. In a letter to Farrakhan, Lateef warned that the minister was creating an environment for murder if he did not renounce the Lessons.

"I am certain that your violent language is influenced by the 'Lessons' " he wrote. "You have threatened many of your fellow African Americans with violence in the past for statements or actions. . . . You have made statements to the effect that when you get power those African Americans that are found to be traitors . . . will be hung from tree limbs, tarred and feathered, have their heads cut off and rolled down the streets. . . . "

There is no conclusive evidence to support the myth that blacks resorted to sacrifical murders to retaliate against white aggression during the civil rights era. And it's even harder to believe these grisly murders and assaults could have occured on such a scale without law-enforcement authorities noticing. Certainly, white supremacists would have used such crimes as arguments for genocide. But their claims would have been as credible as the old libel that Jews killed Christian babies and used their blood to make Passover matzoh.

But like the legendary Wolfen, who snatched people without being noticed because they chose marginal types, it is possible that these modern-day Nat Turners selected their victims so that they would not be missed. In the case of Yahweh ben Yahweh— if the orders to kill whites are to be believed— he selected poor "white devils," not the powerful ones who oppressed him. Rhetoric notwithstanding, the real sacrifical murders in this country have been perpetrated by white separatists, such as the four men in Jasper, Texas, who are accused of tying a black man by his ankles to the back of a pickup truck and dragging him until his head and a shoulder were torn off. That is not a myth.

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