Mark Potok Goes Against NOI Prison Ministry Teachings, But Falls Down Slippery Slope

The Washington Examiner’s recent article condemning the Nation of Islam’s long standing and  heroic Prison Reform Ministry, trotted out some familiar players from the “Bash the Black Muslims” school of political strategy.

Notable was not only U.S. Representative Peter T. King, but also Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok.  Potok began to explicitly say that because of the Nation of Islam’s religious belief and teachings that we should not be allowed to provide contract services inside the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the Nation of Islam class of incarcerated persons.

For Mr. Potok to go againgst the religious beliefs and teachings of the Nation of Islam is for him to begin a steep tumble down the proverbial slippery slope of logical fallacy.  The slippery slope fallacy is defined as:

“A slippery slope argument (SSA), in logic, critical thinking, political rhetoric, and caselaw, is a consequentialist logical device in which a party asserts that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant (usually negative) effect. The core of the slippery slope argument is that a specific decision under debate is likely to result in unintended consequences. The strength of such an argument depends on the warrant, i.e. whether or not one can demonstrate a process that leads to the significant effect. This type of argument is sometimes used as a form of fear mongering, in which the probable consequences of a given action are exaggerated in an attempt to scare the audience.”

We maintain that the path to condemn the religious teachings and beliefs of the Nation of Islam as unacceptable inside a correctional facility is a slippery slope because this would mean that all religions that contain controversial teachings and beliefs would also have to be deemed inappropriate for presentation within a prison setting.  And this would include the most popular religions in American “judeo-christian” society: Judaism and Christianity

For example, when the Nation of Islam’s Historical Research Department published the Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews in the early 1990s, Simon Wiesenthal Fellow Dr. Harold Brackman attacked the book and Minister Farrakhan for publishing it, intensifying existing claims that the Minister and the Nation of Islam are “anti-Semitic.”

Yet the same Historical Research Department that excavated hundreds of previously hidden statements from Jewish scholars, historians and rabbis on the Jewish presence in the Black African Holocaust known as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, also excavated Dr. Brackman’s docotoral dissertation.  This is the same dissertation that he used to earn his doctoral credentials, with which he used to give himself scholarly standing upon which he would condemn the Nation of Islam.  Yet let’s look at what Dr. Brackman exposes in his doctoral dissertation regarding Jewish teachings about Black people.

Dr. Brackman begins to discuss the origins of the racist creation myth known as the Curse of Ham.  The Curse of Ham was the ideological and religious justification used by the religious men and women, who needed the psychological comfort that the belief in this curse provided them, so that they could participate in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Chattel Slave Ownership and the accrual of benefits within a society, based not upon merit or religious piety, but upon white supremacy.

There is no denying that the Babylonian Talmud was the first source to read a Negrophobic content into the episode by stressing Canaan’s fraternal connection with Cush.”

The Jewish scholars, he said, advanced two explanations for Ham and his children being turned black. According to Brackman,

The more important version of the myth, however, ingeniously ties in the origins of blackness – and of other, real and imagined Negroid traits – with Noah’s Curse itself. According to it, Ham is told by his outraged father that, because you have abused me in the darkness of the night, your children shall be born black and ugly; because you have twisted your head to cause me embarrassment, they shall have kinky hair and red eyes; because your lips jested at my exposure, theirs shall swell; and because you neglected my nakedness, they shall go naked with their shamefully elongated male members exposed for all to see…”

Also, the private Jewish religious teachings reference above as the Babylonian Talmud contain some strange teachings regarding the status of Jesus and Mary. Perhaps Mr. Potok would like these teachings kept out of prisons and jails.

Peter Schafer’s Book Jesus in The Talmud has concluded:

A brief summary of the problematic teachings on Jesus has been noted by various scholars.

The fact that every religion has aspects of their religious teachings that are deemed controversial is attested to even when we look at the religion of Christianity.  Professor Philip Jenkins, author of the book Jesus Wars rebuts the popular propaganda tropes designed to promote Islamophobia throughout America.  His article that defends the Holy Qur’an against charges that it promotes terrorism written for the Boston Globe called Dark Passages states the following:

“But in terms of ordering violence and bloodshed, any simplistic claim about the superiority of the Bible to the Koran would be wildly wrong. In fact, the Bible overflows with “texts of terror,” to borrow a phrase coined by the American theologian Phyllis Trible. The Bible contains far more verses praising or urging bloodshed than does the Koran, and biblical violence is often far more extreme, and marked by more indiscriminate savagery. The Koran often urges believers to fight, yet it also commands that enemies be shown mercy when they surrender. Some frightful portions of the Bible, by contrast, go much further in ordering the total extermination of enemies, of whole families and races – of men, women, and children, and even their livestock, with no quarter granted. One cherished psalm (137) begins with the lovely line, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept”; it ends by blessing anyone who would seize Babylon’s infants and smash their skulls against the rocks.

To say that terrorists can find religious texts to justify their acts does not mean that their violence actually grows from those scriptural roots. Indeed, such an assumption itself is based on the crude fundamentalist formulation that everything in a given religion must somehow be authorized in scripture. The difference between the Bible and the Koran is not that one book teaches love while the other proclaims warfare and terrorism, rather it is a matter of how the works are read. Yes, the Koran has been ransacked to supply texts authorizing murder, but so has the Bible

If Christians or Jews want to point to violent parts of the Koran and suggest that those elements taint the whole religion, they open themselves to the obvious question: what about their own faiths? If the founding text shapes the whole religion, then Judaism and Christianity deserve the utmost condemnation as religions of savagery. Of course, they are no such thing; nor is Islam.

But the implications run still deeper. All faiths contain within them some elements that are considered disturbing or unacceptable to modern eyes; all must confront the problem of absorbing and reconciling those troubling texts or doctrines.”

As we have shown, in Mr. Potok’s condemnation of the Nation of Islam’s teachings, he has fallen down a slippery slope that would ultimately remove Judaism, Christianity and Islam from the American Prison System because of the controversial teachings of all these, the Abrahamic faiths.  This could happen if his argument achieves “buy-in” by Correction Industry authorities.  However, it is doubtful that this would happen because of  the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of the freedom of religion.

And since Mr.Potok has made a fuss over the message of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered to prison inmates, lets conclude this post by reviewing the Minister’s Message to Cook County Jail in Chicago on October 16, 1997.  This lecture excerpt in its entirety is found on the website.  Here is a brief , yet powerful excerpt that really does an excellent job at framing the Nation of Islam’s overall message to the incarcerated.

“When Allah (God) created man, He created man in His own image and after His likeness. Think about this guards; think about this Whites; think about this Blacks; think about this human beings. Allah (God) said He created us in His image and after His likeness. Then when I look at you, who am I looking at? That’s a serious question. Those who misunderstand scriptures put a trick on the woman saying she is from a rib. Let’s crush that right now. The Bible says, male and female created He them and called their name Adam. The Holy Qur’an says that we came from the same single essence, and that single essence is Allah (God), Himself. When you are looking at a woman, you are looking at the female side of Allah (God), and when you look at a man, you are looking at the male side of Allah (God).

When I look at you, brother, I’m looking at Allah (God). When I look at you, sister, I’m looking at the female side of the Allah (God) who created heaven and earth. Man and woman are the greatest of Allah’s (God’s) creation, so what are you doing locked down as great as you are?

I have been taught all my life to love, respect and honor Allah (God). But the sad thing about the way we’ve been taught is we’ve never been taught to love, honor and respect one another as images and likeness of Allah (God). We live in a society that is absolutely crazy. Anytime somebody will think that he is better because he is White, that person is sick and needs a doctor. Allah (God) never said you’re better because you’re White, or you’re better because you’re Black, or you’re better because you’ve got a Ph.D. or because you drive a Cadillac. Superiority comes only in the character of righteousness. If you have a lot of knowledge but you don’t have good character, what good is having knowledge and you are a low-down person.

When I look at you, brother, I’m looking at Allah (God). When I look at you, sister, I’m looking at the female side of the Allah (God) who created heaven and earth. Man and woman are the greatest of God’s creation, so what are you doing locked down as great as you are? It is really a sin and a shame, but not on you. The sin and the shame is on those who manage society who have never educated you to be who Allah (God) created you to be. Those who guard you and those of you who are guarded, none of you have reached what Allah (God) intended for you to reach.

The only reason that you are in here is because you rationalized wrong doing. You used the deceptive intelligence that is styled in the scripture as a serpent and it made evil fair seeming. Therefore, the first and the greatest crime that any of us have ever committed is to set up an associate god with Allah (God). I’m asking you, my brothers and sisters, whether you are White, Hispanic or Black, male or female, if you are created in the image of Allah (God), then you ought to demand more of yourself from this day forward to become reflections of the image in whom you are created.

Allah (God) does not steal. You just can’t make Allah (God) a crook. Your Creator says, Be and it is; meaning, if I can think it, believe it, then I can achieve it. I don’t need to steal from any man. It’s so beneath my dignity. You could put a pile of money in front of me and if it doesn’t belong to me I will not take it. You don’t have to steal, you don’t have to lie, you don’t have to cheat to get the things that life will give you. What you must do is reconnect to heaven, reconnect to Allah (God).

If you determine today that you will reconnect to your Creator and begin to develop yourself, then this Day of Atonement means that you are sorry for whatever you’ve done to ill-effect others and that hurts yourself. It means that you want to turn away from that kind of behavior and you want to be the man and the woman that god created you to be.

In this atonement that you have to serve time here, don’t be enemies to each other. The way you start is to turn the inside of jail into paradise. It starts by you as an individual coming back toAllah (God) and treating your brother just like you were looking at Allah (God).”


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