Munir Muhammad is grandfatherly and soft-spoken. He is on a first-name basis with half the politicians in Chicago, and has sat across the table with power players ranging from several governors of his state to Barack Hussein Obama. Muhammad is also a leading figure in one of America’s oldest hate groups.
Born James Waller in Birmingham, Alabama, he drifted into the orbit of the Nation of Islam, changed his name, and moved up through the ranks in the organization. Today his Coalition for the Remembrance of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad is one of the fragmented organizations, squabbling over the vicious legacy of the Nation of Islam.
The Nation of Islam, one of the country’s oldest hate groups, has an ugly fratricidal history. Along with its violent attacks on those outside its circle of race and religion, fueled by a belief that white people are subhumans created by a black mad scientist, it has carried on an equally violent campaign against its own. The list of Nation of Islam dissidents murdered or assaulted by their own people stretches back nearly eighty years. Despite the call to racial solidarity, there is little unity even within the ranks of the Nation of Islam, whose management often resembles that of a gang, rather than a religious group.
The difference between the Nation of Islam and most hate groups is that NOI members and groups can receive government contracts and plum posts from the Democratic Party. Munir Muhammad, who has spent the last nine years sitting on the Illinois Human Rights Commission, with a nearly fifty thousand dollar salary, is proof of the problem. How does the business manager for a hate group get appointed by two Illinois governors to a human rights commission? It’s surprisingly easy. It’s just a matter of knowing the right people.
On the website for CROE-TV, the Coalition for the Remembrance of The Most Honorable Elijah, Muhammad’s broadcasting arm, which puts out several television shows featuring Munir Muhammad, such as Muhammad and Friends, former listed guests include Valerie Jarrett, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Barack Obama.
There are also lesser lights like former Chicago mayor and brother of the former Chief of Staff, Richard M Daley and Senator Dick Durbin, alongside Louis Farrakhan; powerful men and women who have in their time come to sit down and chat with Muhammad Munir, opposite the red and white crescent flag of the Nation of Islam leaning against the wall in the corner of the studio.
When Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan wanted to get rid of one of his critics, he just swapped him out with Munir Muhammad, who became Vice-Chairman of the Board of Corrections, not to mention also serving on the Cook County Sheriff’s Committee on Religious Tolerance and the Chicago Police Department’s Multicultural Forum.
Illinois politicians didn’t just give Munir Muhammad lucrative policy gigs, they donated thousands of dollars directly to his organization. An organization whose reason for existence is promoting the ideas of a bigot, whose views, aside from skin color, have little to distinguish them from those of Aryan Identity groups.
Governor Blagojevich had doled out some 50,000 dollars in state money to Munir’s hate group and even proclaimed February 12, 2006 to be “Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah Muhammad Day” and encouraged citizens of the state to recognize the organization for its “ongoing commitment to ensuring the legacy of this influential African-American leader”—an influential leader who had described white people as devils and “born murderers”.
Similar proclamations from the governor’s office in 2004 and 2005 described the Coalition as “an important voice in both the African-American community and the general public”
But Blagojevich, despite his national reputation for corruption, was not unique in pandering to Munir Muhammad. After Blagojevich was gone, Governor Pat Quinn renominated Munir Muhammad to the Illinois Human Rights Commission. The result was a brief debate and a close vote with the Illinois Senate splitting mostly down party lines. Twenty senators voted to reappoint Munir Muhammad and thirty voted against—with only seven Democrats crossing party lines to vote against him. Were Barack Obama still in the Illinois State Senate, it’s quite apparent how he would have voted.
The Illinois State Senate transcript for Munir Muhammad’s original appointment shows that it was carried without a single opposing vote. Obama appeared to be present at the session, which means that he voted to confirm Munir Muhammad.
In 2001, 75,000 dollars was allotted to the Coalition for the purchase of television cameras for its production studios, courtesy of Illinois State Senator Donne E. Trotter. When Gilad Atzmon, a figure so repulsive that even Anti-Israel groups have deemed him too Anti-Semitic to be associated with, appeared on Munir Muhammad’s show, the cameras filming the whole thing may well have been the ones paid for by taxpayer dollars. At the time Barack Obama was a member of the Illinois State Senate and his funding requests appear next to those of Trotter.
It would be nice to think that Munir Muhammad’s success was an individual blind spot in the system, but it wasn’t. Claudette Marie Muhammad, Chief of Protocol in the Nation of Islam, had been appointed to the Illinois Anti-Discrimination Panel. And there was Willie Barrow, the Chairwoman of the Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes, an enthusiastic admirer of Farrakhan and one of Obama’s Faith Endorsers. A woman whom Michelle Obama described as “our friend”.
Munir Muhammad has lost his position and his fifty thousand dollar salary, but there is little doubt that Illinois politicians will continue trooping down to the studio to chat with the bigot while sitting opposite his red flag. Corruption is the way things are done in Chicago and that includes turning a blind eye to black racist groups who may believe that white people are the devil, but can be counted on to deliver the votes from Elijah Muhammad’s mothership.
Chicago’s dirt is no longer just the property of that city; it belongs to all of us. And Munir Muhammad also belongs to all of us. The men and women he sat across from are no longer just big wheels in state politics—they run the country. And the Chicago Way has become the American Way.