Farrakhan Speaks At UMass Amherst

Nation of Islam Leader Sparks Protest

Approximately 800 students from UMass Amherst and three area colleges picketed and chanted at the Amherst campus last night to protest a speech by controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Farrakhan, whose views have been labeled anti-Semitic by national Jewish groups and college Hillels, told an audience of about 2,000 that the media has distorted his views by portraying him as a hate-monger, according to press reports.

"If I am such, you may place me in the dustbin of history as all haters... have been placed," he said.

"The fear is that after 430 years of evil mistreatment...that somebody is going to come along and turn these young and older Black men and women into an army to revenge," Farrakhan said. "The guilt of the guilty makes them always fear that their wickedness is worthy of the punishment."

The UMass Amherst Hillel organized and rally to protest Farrakhan's speech and no criticize the use of student's funds to pay for the Nation of Islam leader's $20,000 appearance. All students are billed a mandatory $84 to pay for campus speakers, according to Josh Slomich, a senior at UMass Amherst who organized the protest.


Because of midterms the Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel did not officially organize an outing to UMass Amherst. But the organization did send a statement of support to the Hillel at Amherst, according to Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel Associate Chair Deborah J. Steinberger '95.

"We don't object to Farrakhan's right to free speech, and some of his message of Black pride and economic empowerment are important," the statement reads. "But we cannot stand by and allow him to spread his message without confronting the hate and prejudice against Jews that comes with that message."

The Nation Islam has been in the mediaspotlight recently when one of Farrakhan'sassociates, Khalid Abdul Muhammed, called Jews"bloodsuckers," urged the mass murder of SouthAfrica's white population and labeled the pope "ano-good cracker."

Farrakhan demoted Muhammed but still insistedthat he "spoke many truths."

Jewish organizations across the country havebeen crusading against the Nation of Islam, evenplacing a full-page advertisement in The New YorkTimes and a half-page ad in The Crimson.

Although the Hillels at both UMass Amherst andHarvard are enraged by the Nation of Islam'sviews, neither group plans to join any nationalcampaigns or continue to protest after Farrakhanleaves the campus, according to Hillel leaders atboth schools.

"Hillel is not launching any efforts to joinany national groups in criticizing the Nation ofIslam," Steinberger said. "There are a lot ofother issues to address here on campus."

Slomich said students from Amherst College, Mt.Holyoke College and Smith College sent contingentto join the protest of Farrakhan.

Farrakhan, 60, took over the Nation of Islam in1975 after the death of Elijah Muhammed, thefather of the Black Muslim movement.

He preaches a mixture of Black supremacy,separatism and economic self-reliance. He hasoften been quoted as calling Judaism a "gutterreligion.