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Thursday, January 01, 2004  

News and analysis: Jackson kidnapped by Nation of Islam?

I first learned about the alleged connection between Michael Jackson and the Nation of Islam from Eric Olsen at Blogcritics, a rather Right site. Now, progressive blogger Ronn Taylor of A Burst of Light has also posted an entry on the topic. Predictably, the two bloggers' takes are different.

First, let's look at the back story.

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 29 — Officials from the Nation of Islam, a separatist African-American Muslim group, have moved in with Michael Jackson and are asserting control over the singer's business affairs, friends, employees and business associates of Mr. Jackson said.

Initially invited to the Neverland Ranch several weeks ago to provide security for Mr. Jackson, members of the Nation of Islam are now restricting access to him and have begun making decisions for him related to the news media, his business affairs and even his legal strategy, some of Mr. Jackson's friends and associates said. Mr. Jackson faces charges of child molesting in Santa Barbara and recently moved into a rented house in Los Angeles, where Nation of Islam officials have accompanied him.

Efforts to reach Mr. Jackson through his spokesman were not sucessful, but his lawyer, Mark Geragos, and The Final Call, the Nation of Islam's newspaper, denied the claim.

Leonard Muhammad, chief of staff and son-in-law of the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, now works out of the Los Angeles office of Mr. Geragos, Mr. Jackson's lawyer, the Jackson associates said. Mr. Muhammad stood behind Mr. Geragos during a recent televised news conference and, according to two of Mr. Jackson's employees who spoke on condition of anonymity, he participates in phone calls involving media and legal strategy.

Mr. Jackson's official spokesman, Stuart Backerman, resigned on Monday to protest the Nation of Islam's presence, said a colleague of Mr. Backerman, who could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The employees said they spoke out because they are concerned about Mr. Jackson's welfare and because his multicultural message was at odds with the group's philosophy of black separatism. The Nation of Islam is a small group that advocates black self-empowerment and a separate African-American state, and some of its leaders have espoused anti-Semitic, anti-gay and racist rhetoric. Mr. Jackson is not Muslim nor a member of the Nation of Islam.

"The Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan's son-in-law have taken over completely and are in full and total charge," said one senior Jackson employee, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They have gone in and taken over control of the finances in terms of who's getting paid, how much," the employee added. "They're approving all funds and have decided they have control of the business manager and accountant, without signing authority or power of attorney. They are working out of Geragos's office; in essence they're telling him what to do."

. . .In a telephone interview on Monday Mr. Geragos denied that the Nation of Islam was running Mr. Jackson's affairs. "The idea that there is some takeover by the Nation of Islam — someone is spinning you," he said. "Nobody has told me what to do and what not to do. Leonard, I believe, is someone Michael consults with, just like in excess of 25 people."

Mr. Geragos said that members of Mr. Jackson's security detail were Muslim but that that did not mean they belonged to the Nation of Islam. Mr. Geragos said that he felt these accusations of Nation of Islam control have originated with the Santa Barbara district attorney's office, which is "playing the race card," he said.

Some of what Sharon Waxman of the New York Times is reporting is inaccurate. The NOI rejected separatism decades ago, though some members still say things that can be construed as racist. Furthermore, the article leaves the common misconception that most black American Muslims are members of the Nation of Islam untouched. They aren't. As mainstream Islam has become increasingly available in the United States, African-Americans have converted to its sects instead of to the NOI. If not for its prison ministry, I believe the NOI's membership would be even lower.

Has Michael Jackson, currently laboring under more trouble than anyone can deal with alone, been practically kidnapped by the Nation of Islam? I suppose it is possible. I've heard of opportunists. including ministers, stepping in to try to take advantage when celebrities or anyone with money comes under fire. Mike Tyson may have lost millions to such manipulation. But, I would need to see more evidence than I have so far to believe the allegations about Jackson and the NOI. What I see is a man in turmoil who has some serious emotional problems beyond the question of whether he is a pedophile or not.

Ronn isn't buying it all.

I'd rather not quote from the article, just note that mainstream (read: WHITE!) media is eating this shit up like manna from heavan. While I don't believe MiJak's accusations of physical abuse and snide commentary by a couple of officers, to see the lead screaming Banshee Diane Dimond nearly foaming at the mouth about the timeline (*hint* see: OJ Simpson) not gelling with his allegations is almost sickening to me. I'm still waiting for Dimond to produce MiJak's "love letters" written to the boy. Hell, I'm still waiting for that '94 video to finally appear. This twat has no credibility and has an obvious ax to grind. (Google her name, Michael's, "video," and, "slander lawsuit" yourself.)

. . .Until the NOI comes out and proclaims its intent to assist Michael, until the man himself says he is involving the org, I won't believe a word of this bullshit. I can't accept the remarks of "anonymous sources" and disgruntled former employees/NOI members.

A trial is probably many months away and he's already convicted in the eyes of many because he's weird. Maybe I'm just a simple Black man from Brooklyn, but this looks like nothing more than another extortion plot by a financially desparate, morally bankrupt parent. Given the absence of any physical evidence, no talk of circumstantial evidence and the obvious hatred on the part of the sneering DA (and much of white America), I have serious doubts that Michael will receive a fair trial or that this won't dissolve into another sad case of race and religion being used to divide.

Eric, though not questioning the truth of the claim, believes becoming involved with the NOI is a rotten strategy.

Um, yes. Good move. The public is almost as sympathetic to the Nation of Islam as it is to child molesters. It seems pretty clear that the Jews are behind the whole damn thing.

My primary concern is that Michael Jackson get a fair trial. For that to happen, jurors must look at whether there is any proof Jackson had sexual relations with his accuser. Is there evidence the child was given wine to drink as alleged, such as blood alcohol tests? Does the alleged victim show any physical evidence of molestation? Considering Jackson was previously cleared by the applicable state agency, when did the alleged molestation now at issue occur? It is important that we not allow claims such as the supposed link between Jackson and the Nation of Islam distract us from the real issue in this case.


(1) Eric Olsen believes my description of Blogcritics as 'Right' is not fair. However, based on active posters and commenters, I feel the group blog site does have a conservative tint.

(2) The imbroglio now includes a claim CBS paid Jackson for the 60 Minutes interview.

3:09 PM