Portions of Malcolm X’s speech at Ford Auditorium in Detroit on February 14, 1965, shortly after his house in New York was firebombed while he, his wife, and their small children were asleep inside.
Malcolm X has been smeared as a militant extremist who advocated for terrorism (“terrorism”) and the violent overthrow of the State by a nation of Black revolutionaries in many places, including the history books I studied from in public school. Anyone who reads the words of X himself, especially after his transformative trip to Mecca, can see this is not true. This lie reveals and reproduces a violent fear of the Black Power movement as the imaginary revenge of those who have been historically dehumanized, oppressed, and sacrificed in the name of the interests of the ruling class.
This panic is so deep that no actual incident or injury is required to justify violent self-defense. COINTELPRO and the ongoing repression of political and racial dissidents in the United States is, if anything, a preemptive strike. The path from committing oppression, to fearing retaliation, to doling out increasing oppression and violence runs along the same psychological lines as it does in those outspoken White Supremacist organizations who, in the tradition of the Klan, have been steadily increasing their racist and anti-communist organizing and stepping up armed patrols of White neighborhoods “in preparation for the oncoming race war” since the election of Barack Obama in 2008.
The labeling of leaders from the Black Power movement as terrorists in order to silence, defame, and murder them is not new.