I planned to blog about the late Derrick Bell’s Afrolantica Legacies from beginning to end. However, recent events in France necessitate a brief detour to the book’s sixth — and longest — chapter. “Shadowboxing: Blacks, Jews and Games Scapegoats Play” features two dialogues devoted to Bell’s defense of Louis Farrakhan, the antisemitic leader of the Nation of Islam.
Bell describes a radical student named Nat T (a reference to the slave revolt led by Nat Turner) who comes to visit him in his law school office. When Bell rejects Nat T’s violent, kill-all-the-white-people rhetoric the student storms out, promising to murder him and the other “black tokens” when the revolution arrives.
As Nat T leaves the building he upsets Ben Hirsch, a Jewish faculty member whom Bell describes as “a staunch supporter of Israel where he travels frequently and consults with the government.” Hirsch comes to Bell to complain, leading to a Socratic dialogue where Bell blows over a series of Straw Man arguments. Despite Bell’s reliance on cliches throughout his narratives, this invention of a pro-Israel professor shows a genuine gift for the surreal.
“… when one black leader makes comments they deem anti-Semitic…”
Bell denied Farrakhan’s antisemitism. And his sentiment mirrors paleo-conservative former MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan’s description of Father Charles Coughlin (who published the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in his newspaper Social Justice in the 1930s) as “an alleged antisemite.”