Letter to Barry

Hey Barry. Very sorry, it took me like a week to find the time to write and edit a response. It's way too long for a blogger comment, so I'm using an old blog I haven't even looked at for five years (I knew it would come in handy for something!) since I thought it would probably get lost in the original thread. Thanks for responding. I really do appreciate it when people bother to discuss these issues rather than just dismissing them offhandedly, and I know it takes time, so, again, your efforts are appreciated. Apologies in advance for the length of my reply, I certainly don’t mean to rag on you, but I think your post merits a decent response. I'm mostly discussing and explaining this to myself, so when I say "you" below, I'm generally not ascribing any claim to you personally, but to the counterpoint of the argument I'm trying to make, so I'm not trying to put any words in your mouth or set up any straw men.

Certainly there are two issues here, namely feminism and women. While very closely related, they’re obviously not the same. My post was about the 15 Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast, which is more about modern feminism in general than women’s nature in particular. This was not an attempt to be selective, but simply to use Dave’s own distillation of his position to address what I thought were your criticisms.

I should note that the following is just my interpretation of Dave’s writing. This is just what I think, and doesn't represent Dave in any way, shape or form whatsoever. I’m sure he would disagree with some (or a lot) of it, but it’s the way I interpret what he’s saying. Let me repeat, this does not represent Dave in any way, shape or form whatsoever. At all. Not even a little bit. This is strictly my thoughts on the matter. I think he made an effort to understand the nature of women, in general, and the following is how I think he came to some of his conclusions and why I don’t think they are misogynistic. This is me, not Dave.

Certainly definitions are very important and this argument is going to come down, in part, to the definition of misogyny. If you want to say that anyone who does not trust women is a misogynist, then by that definition Sim would be a misogynist. Okay, end of conversation. That doesn’t really address his points, though. But, come on, let’s be honest here, people aren’t going around saying Dave’s an asshole because…gasp!…he doesn’t trust women! They didn’t draw him as a Nazi because they think he doesn’t trust women. They think he hates women. But as he once stated, he follows the maxim of his lawyer, “Trust no one.” So he doesn’t trust women and he doesn’t trust men. So Dave Sim hates men and women because he doesn’t trust them? That seems like a bit of a stretch to me.

What, then, do I think qualifies as misogyny? Well, I’m going to stick to the notion of hate. I mean, it wouldn’t make any sense to say of someone, “He’s a misogynist, but he doesn’t hate women.” or “He hates women, but he’s not a misogynist.” The terms are as close to interchangeable as they can be. As such, I don’t think his statements about women demonstrate “an intense, passionate dislike”. I just don’t think hatred even enters into it.

I'm not saying misogyny doesn't exist. Obviously people who commit any kind of abuse towards women, commit any kind of assault, or generally show through their words or deeds that they believe women are worthless or not deserving of the same common courtesy, decency, and respect as all human beings are the easy examples of misogyny. This isn’t what Sim is talking about.

I would also say rural Pakistan—which I believe can be accurately described as having a rape culture—or any countries where they practice female genital mutilation can be accurately described as practicing misogyny. I mean, if sentencing women to be raped and slicing off parts of their genitals isn’t a sign of misogyny, I don’t know what is. These are outrageous, barbaric practices. But obviously, this isn’t what Sim is talking about either.

So let’s take the quotes in turn. I’m pretty sure they are seen as among the most controversial things Dave has ever said, and are only properly understood in context, with which (I’m assuming), pretty much everyone here is familiar.


“There is little in the way of intellectual value to be derived from revisiting—either mentally or ‘in person’—the simple fact (once discovered) that women are emotion-based beings and that (consequently) any female-center or female-originated political movement—more precisely ‘political’ movement—will lack sound intellectual footing.”

This isn't merely a slam on feminism; it's a slam on the intellectual capacities of women in general. That's misogynistic.

I would start by agreeing with Sam Harris when he says: “if you think there are no differences, in the aggregate, between people who have Y chromosomes and people who don’t; if you think testosterone has no psychological effects on human minds in general; if you think we can’t say anything about the differences between two bell curves that describe whole populations of men and women, whether these differences come from biology or from culture, we’re not going to get very far in this conversation.” I’m not saying Harris would agree with Sim, I’m saying that if the position is simply that there are no differences between the genders other than sexual organs and physical strength, and that intellectually, emotionally and psychologically, men and women are basically the same and if you disagree or apply any "negative" qualities to women, then you’re a misogynist….again, okay, conversation over, but I don’t think it’s that simple.

Dave’s claims here are that a) women are “emotion-based” and that as a result, b) feminism—whose foundation, theories and practices are essentially established by women—would pretty much have to lack a sound intellectual footing, because its theories would be based on emotions, not reasoning…so the claim goes.

As to the first, what does it mean to say that women are “emotion-based”? I think it means that women are motivated by, and base their decisions and actions upon, their feelings. These are, obviously, generalizations as per the Sam Harris quote above. That is, all Margaret Thatchers and Marie Curies aside (since most women (and most men) aren’t going to be Prime Minister or win the Nobel Prize in physics), what can we say about “most” women in general? What can we say about “most” men in general? How can we make any claim about what “they” are like, as a general rule?

Well, how do we know anything about any definable group and their likes, wants or interests? Well, you can ask them. Anecdotal evidence is fine to a degree, but obviously limited. You can only talk to so many people, and your sample size is always going to be relatively small. Our scope needs to be broader. So, what are men interested in? What are republicans interested in? What are Sikhs interested in? What are Muslims interested in? What are African-Americans interested in? What are gay people interested in? What are women interested in…in general, as a whole, on aggregate?

Well, for one, it seems useful to examine the culture of any given group. Books, magazines, movies, TV shows and academic studies about a given group should tell us something. The culture that caters to a group and that they consume by choice seems to, by definition, tell you something about their interests. I believe Dave when he says he committed to “voluminous reading of everything from nurse novels to voodoo pop…to Women's Studies” because that should tell him something about what women are interested in and what they like and, therefore, what they are like. I mean if we can’t say anything about women based on the books, magazines and other media that are produced (by and large) by women, for women, about women, along with the academic texts produced by (and for and about) same, then we can’t saying anything on the topic at all. But I think that popular culture does, to a degree, tell you something about a group and represents a reasonably broad sample, since it would involve millions and millions of readers and viewers choosing to consume these words and images.

In other words, if you were take a look at, say, a list of best-selling men’s magazines from Amazon, I don’t think you can—reasonably—claim that this list says nothing about men and their interests. We can’t know anything about men, in general, from looking at this list? That doesn’t really make any sense to me.

Here’s a list of best-selling women’s magazines on Amazon. The claim that the most popular men's magazines don't say anything relevant about men and their interests, and that, similarly, the list of women’s magazines says nothing about women and their interests is simply not credible to me. These are going concerns, the most popular magazines in America with circulations in the millions that must appeal to the interests of their respective markets or go out of business. A significant portion of their budget is spent on finding out exactly what their readership wants, and then giving it to them.

Now if you want to claim that this means nothing (I’m not saying you do), I would have to disagree. It means something. At the very least, it means that this is what women are interested in. Now I submit to you that the type of magazine, like this one, which advertises on its cover both losing 18 pounds in 14 days AND “Old-fashioned Strawberry Cake” is a magazine which appeals to people based on their emotions, not reason.  (I certainly hope you don't think I'm choosing some exception to the rule, please let me know if you think I am doing so, I can provide many other examples.) Feel free to say something about body images and how women are forced to be pretty for men because of the patriarchy, I'm not adverse to such arguments. But, having said that, you obviously cannot lose 18 pounds in 14 days in the first place, and you certainly can’t do it with a strawberry cake in your fridge. They are, clearly, logically, mutually exclusive. I am not making any value judgement. I am not saying appealing to emotions is bad or good. I am not saying this “proves” that women are emotion-based beings. I’m just saying that to look at a cross-section of these magazines would tell you that they are appealing to people based on their emotions, not reason.

What about television shows? Do soap operas tell you nothing about the people who watch them? Does Oprah Winfrey’s show tell you anything about the people who watch it? If not, why not? If so, what does it tell you? Soap operas have been in decline for some time and largely replaced by “Reality Television” shows (which are, of course, as scripted as any soap opera). Well, I don’t think you can seriously claim that people who watch soap operas and reality television are doing so for intellectual reasons. I think the people who watch them are primarily looking for their emotions to be manipulated by the characters and the stories. This is, I think, pretty self-evidently different than watching documentaries about World War II or shows about the technical details of the new Koenigsegg. They appeal to different people for different reasons. I am not saying one is good and one is bad. I am not saying men do not watch "Reality Television". I am not saying men do not watch movies and TV shows that appeal to their emotions. I am not saying women don’t watch WWII documentaries. I am saying one of them appeals primarily to your emotions and they are the shows that, as a rule, are produced for and cater to women more than men. We are talking in general, as a whole, on aggregate and as a whole, these television shows such as Oprah Winfrey and soap operas and the like are produced for, and primarily consumed by, women.

(Okay, slight diversion. I’ll get to books read primarily by women in a bit, please bear with me, I’m just taking the quotes in turn.)

Now in the same quote, on the general point of feminism lacking a sound intellectual footing, Dave makes the claim that if this group of people makes their decisions based on emotions (and I’m not saying I’ve “proved” that), their belief system/philosophy will necessarily lack a sound intellectual footing. As an example of this, take a look at D. A. Pennebaker’s Town Bloody Hall.

I think Mailer is generally making fairly sensible arguments (in his usual provocative and antagonistic way) and the rest of them are engaging almost exclusively in ad hominem and special pleading. If Trilling, Friedan, Greer et al. do represent second-wave feminism, then I think that not only does feminism lack a sound intellectual footing, it lacks practically any intellectual footing at all. Again, it’s almost exclusively ad hominem, special-pleading and feminist double-speak.

One small example out of many: when Mailer says to Betty Friedan, “Be accurate, Betty.”, Friedan retorts that, “Norman, I will define accuracy for myself.” What does that even mean? Either you are accurate, or you are not, or you don’t know if you are accurate. Either your claim about a given subject is correct, or it is not correct, or it is unknown if you are correct. Whatever the case, it’s not open to individual definition. To suggest that Friedan can define “for herself” what is and what is not accurate makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and is simply one example (out of many) where doublespeak substitutes for a sound intellectual footing. Again, my claim is that these arguments are emotional, not intellectual.


On to books.

"All I got out of that research, I already knew: a) women want to be raped by rich, muscular, handsome doctors b) women are completely self-absorbed and, thus, see themselves in everything around them and c) feminism is no different from communism in that all of its literature is founded upon convoluted syntax, bafflegab and academic jargon..."

Points A) and B) in this passage are talking about women, not feminism. And they are deeply misogynistic.

On the first point, I take it you’re familiar with “romance” novels? Rape fantasies feature very heavily in that genre. So much so, in fact, that the former editor of the Canadian publishing industry’s trade magazine (Quill and Quire) told me that in the publishing world, romance novels are informally known as “rape fiction.” In fact, with very little effort I found a list of a hundred books that feature “Romances with forced seduction or rape by the hero.” Note that they are all rather highly rated by thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of reviewers. Here’s another list: “This is a list of famous must-read bodice ripper romance novels. These books contain bodice-ripper themes such as forced seduction, rape, and abuse. In some of these books, it is the "hero" of the story who committs (sic) these acts toward the heroine.”

There are many, many, many more examples. According to The New Yorker, by 2012, romance novels were a 1.5-billion-dollar-a-year business that made up nearly 17 per cent(!) of fiction sales. You cannot pretend women are not interested in this material. Now fantasy is not reality, but one fantasizes about what one wishes one had or what one wishes were true. Once again, we’re extrapolating from what is popular to make a claim about the people who read those books, in general, as a whole, on aggregate.

(There is academic research on the topic as well. According to one 2009 study, “The nature of women's rape fantasies: an analysis of prevalence, frequency, and contents.”: “This study evaluated the rape fantasies of female undergraduates (N = 355) using a fantasy checklist that reflected the legal definition of rape and a sexual fantasy log that included systematic prompts and self-ratings. Results indicated that 62% of women have had a rape fantasy, which is somewhat higher than previous estimates.”)

Presented with this information regarding the popularity of novels which feature rape and abuse by the protagonist, you can still—obviously—disagree with Sim’s conclusion as quoted above and simply state that “Dave Sim hates women.” Okay, but at this point, I think the onus would be on you to explain why these books are not relevant to Dave’s point.

Now taken as a whole, if someone did spend time examining the popular culture that is largely consumed by women (including magazines, television shows, novels) and conducted their own series of "field interviews" to a view of better understanding women, and also examined various academic texts, and came to the conclusion that women are “emotion-based”, is your only response still, “You hate women.”? Do you think his conclusions can really be dismissed that easily? I am not asking you to agree with his conclusions or methodology, I am just asking if your response is still just, "You are a misogynist."?


”As an example, I firmly believe that feminism is a misguided attempt to raise women above their place, which I firmly believe is secondary to that of men.”

Prejudice against women, a form of misogyny.

This is obviously a fairly major conclusion of Sim’s. Does believing that men are superior to women necessarily mean that you hate women? First off, I don’t think this counts as prejudice, i.e. “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.” Dave is giving you the reasons he believes what he believes, and the experiences that led him to his conclusions, so I don’t think it can be said that it’s not based on reason or experience. You can point out any faults in his reasoning or erroneous conclusions, but I don't think you can say there isn’t any ratiocination going on.

Frankly, I think this would have been a fairly standard opinion up until about fifty or so years ago, and as such, it doesn’t make sense to me to suggest that until fifty years ago, all men simply, “hated women” unless you want to make the claim that all men did hate women, they just didn’t know it.

Now, conversely, if I make the claim that women are superior to men, does that mean that I hate men? If so, there sure is a lot of misandry out there! I do have to note that the ways in which women are superior to men is harped on by many, many self-described feminists on a regular basis and I see their work in major publications all over the world:

Why Women Are the Superior Gender

10 Things Research Proves Women Are Better At Than Men

14 Things Women Do Better Than Men

Here’s 4 Ways Women Are Better Bosses Than Men

Women are better a remembering than men

Women Have Better Verbal Skills than Men

Women are Better Drivers Than Men

I mean, I could go on, but what would be the point? These and similar claims are made all the time, and nobody bats an eyelid (can you imagine the opprobrium if the genders were reversed?). By your definition, they are misandrists and that would suggest that the hatred of men is widely prevalent in our society, or at least widely published in our society. I don’t know very many people making that claim. If you want to state that these are written by people who hate men, then I would understand your position that you think Sim hates women. But, even so, just because you believe one gender is superior to another does not mean you “hate” that other gender. You can certainly disagree with the argument but I think you’d have to say why rather than just reduce it to a charge of misogyny (or misandry, as the case may be).

— — — — —

"To me, taking it as a given that reason cannot prevail in any argument with emotion, there must come a point – with women and children – where verbal discipline has to be asserted, and if verbal discipline proves insufficient, that physical discipline be introduced.”

Here, Sim says that he thinks men should physically beat women (but "leave no mark which endures longer than, say, an hour or two") if they can't "prevail" in an argument. He also conflates women with children. Both these views are misogynistic.

I think you completely and totally mischaracterize Sim by saying he advocates that one should “physically beat women.” Men don’t beat women. Only cowards beat women. You learn that before Kindergarten. Obviously, Sim believes in corporal punishment—in this case, spanking—when it comes to women (and children). If you find the idea of spanking a woman offensive on the face of it, I understand, but does advocating such a position de facto make you a misogynist? Whether you or I believe in corporal punishment is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether this view is necessarily motivated by or indicates a “hatred of women.”  The real science of the actual effects of spanking is relevant, but I don’t believe it constitutes a hatred of women, or children. I think it’s a belief regarding the efficacy of corporal punishment. Dave takes the traditional view that was in effect for thousands of years. You may consider it outdated and maybe "we're beyond that," fine, but to reduce it to “he hates women” is just too simple a response for me. If someone spanks a child, does that mean he hates children? I also don’t think he is conflating women and children any more than the phrase “women and children first” conflates the two. (I'm going to leave Sean Connery out of this, but by your definition, since he's not talking about spanking, you will have to state that he hates women.)


Finally, I'm not saying that Sim is "a Nazi in a concentration camp," or is "scum."  I realize that you were making a reference to a caricature of Sim published by the Comics Journal years ago. However, I didn't draw that cover; I am not on the staff of TCJ; in short, I am not answerable for what TCJ says, any more than Dave is answerable for what other anti-feminists have said or done.

I understand, and I certainly wasn’t trying to place any blame or responsibility whatsoever for the picture on you. The point I was trying to make regarding the The Comics Journal's Nazi picture was related to the petition. If, after ten-odd years of engaging people on a topic, some of whom decide to draw you as a Nazi in charge of a concentration/extermination camp and otherwise make it clear that they think you are insane scum, then after that ten years of dialogue it does not seem unreasonable, to me, for Sim to limit his interactions to people who do not believe he his comparable to a Nazi. I don’t remember the outrage against The Comics Journal when they did that. Since silence implies consent, I think we can reasonably infer that not very many people did have a problem with it. Again, why not limit your interaction with people who depict you as a Nazi, or have no problem with you being depicted as a Nazi, after you have already engaged them in dialogue for ten years? It simply does not seem unreasonable to me.


I think a big part of the problem is that these days, the definition of misogyny has been abused and applied to too many situations. To that point I bring up Tim Hunt and Matt Taylor again. If their words and actions are considered misogynistic, and the outrage at their "misogyny" is such that they lose their jobs or have to make tearful apologies, then I think we’re all in very deep trouble.

As a whole, I think I’ve tried to be as fair to both Dave and his critics as is reasonable. I’m not saying any criticism of Dave or his methods or his conclusions is automatically invalid. I'm not saying I agree with anything Sim has said. My agreement is, of course, completely and totally irrelevant. I’ve tried to leave enough room on both sides for a reasonable amount of disagreement, but I have also tried to be accurate and represent his arguments to the best of my understanding. In the end, my claim is still that even if you disagree with him, to dismiss what Dave is saying as just misogyny is simply not being fair and reasonable about Dave’s claims. In the end, I think that you can disagree with Dave without coming to the conclusion that this is all just based on the simple fact that he hates women.

Okay, I tried to avoid the novel-length rebuttal and failed. Again, thanks for your time Barry. We almost certainly disagree on these topics, but I think discussing them is worthwhile.


Socialism With Chinese Characteristics


The War on Drugs is a War on You

Just in case you weren't sure, yes, the war on drugs is, and has always been, a war on non-whites. This excellent new online book, "Tremble The Devil" does a superb job of presenting the straight facts about the war on drugs and explains how it has been used as a tool in an ongoing war against the underclass and specifically black people in the U.S. He takes a (for once the word is justified) new look at the nature of terrorism (and what that really means) and the seemingly inevitable retribution that's coming. You can't look at downtown Detroit and Baltimore and not see the future of the U.S. as ghettos and gated communities and that won't happen without even more violence than we're already seeing because of the war on drugs. Every day there's another Oscar Grant or another no-knock raid that kills an innocent man. The future is Juarez. Take a look and see if you want that to happen to Detroit or St. Louis or Los Angeles. It's just a matter of time at this rate.

The anonymous author, who claims to be a retired DoD analyst, also manages to get the story of Malcolm X right. This book is one of the very few things I've ever read that doesn't try to paint Malcolm X as a racist hatemonger. Overall, excellent read, check it out, "Tremble The Devil". (To get his summary of the War on Drugs, check out a recent blog entry by the same author, Because We Destroyed Ourselves. For more information on the CIA/crack connection, read Cockburn and St. Clair's Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and The Press.)


Malcolm X and Cairo

Later in his life, Malcolm X had established a reputation as a respected leader all across the Middle East and Africa. His visits to various heads of state made him a target of the U.S. intelligence community and he was barred from both France and England. He understood he was becoming a threat because he was helping to unite the non-white population of the planet which had only recently unshackled itself from its colonial slavemasters. Ready my essay.

How George Bush Won the 2004 Presidential Election

Friday, July 18, 2003

By Sandeep S. Atwal

Purging voter lists is just the beginning: the U.S. has embraced a form of electronic voting that is unreliable, unverifiable and funded by the radical Christian right.

ES&S, Diebold and Sequoia may not be household names like Enron or Arthur Andersen, but these three companies will decide America's next president. In the 2004 presidential election, the full effect of electronic voting will be felt for the first time and these are the companies that will report the majority of the results.

Despite assurances from the corporations that own these machines, the reliability of electronic voting is under intense criticism. One of the most comprehensive examinations of electronic voting fraud came from brothers James and Kenneth Collier. In their 1992 book Votescam: The Stealing of America, the brothers detailed the long history of voting fraud over the past twenty-five years with a special focus on voting machines. American politicians and large media outlets have ignored their book, and their charges remain unanswered.

Now, their concerns are being echoed by a new group of writers, journalists and activists who have raised alarming and explosive details about electronic voting in America. While academics such as Professors Rebecca Mercuri and David Dill and organizations like the Association for Computing Machinery have carefully documented how voting systems are vulnerable to fraudulent manipulation, journalists Lynn Landes, Jerry Bowles and Bev Harris are alerting Americans to an electronic coup d'etat in the making. If their charges are true, and there is little evidence to contradict their claims, George W. Bush has already won the 2004 election.


Florida's Folly Goes National

"Given the outcome of our work in Florida and with a new president in place, we think our services will expand across the country."
-- Martin L. Fagan, ChoicePoint Vice-President

To understand how George W. Bush will win the next presidential election, it helps to understand how he won the last one. While all public attention rested on hanging chads, butterfly ballots and a skewed recount in the wake of the 2000 Presidential election, the root of the problem has been overlooked. As investigative reporter Greg Palast uncovered, the state of Florida purged over 90,000 people from their list of eligible voters under the guise that they were felons. In fact, almost none of the disenfranchised voters were felons...but almost all were blacks or democrats.

Palast's investigation revealed that at the heart of this ethnic cleansing of voter lists was the creation of a new centralized database for the state of Florida. In 1999, the state fired the company they were paying to compile their "scrub" lists and gave the job to Database Technologies (DBT, now ChoicePoint). DBT, a private firm known to have strong Republican ties was paid $2.3 million to do the same job that had previously been done for $5,700.

The first list of felons from DBT included 8,000 names of felons from Texas supplied by George Bush's state officials. The state government said they were all felons, and thus barred from voting under federal law. Local officials complained about the list and DBT issued a new one, this time naming 58,000 felons. Palast discovered that the one county that went through the process of checking the new list name by name found it was 95% wrong.

Because of the way DBT compiled its erroneous list, Florida voters whose names were similar to out-of-state felons were barred from voting. An Illinois felon named John Michaels could knock off Florida voters John, Johnny, Jonathan or Jon R. Michaels.

DBT didn't get names, birthdays or social security numbers right, but they were matched for race, so a felon named Joe Green only knocked off a black Joe Green, but not a white person with the same name. There was no need to guess about the race of the disenfranchised: a voter's race is listed next to his or her name in many Southern states including Florida because racial ID is required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

DBT's fee of $2.3 million was supposed to include verification that the individuals on their list were actually felons, but Palast's investigation showed that DBT could not provide any evidence that they made a single phone call to verify the identity of the names scrubbed prior to the 2000 Presidential Election.

Unfortunately, nothing is preventing this purge from taking place again on a national scale. Due in large part to the attention paid to butterfly ballots and hanging chads in the fall of 2000, the new Help America Vote Act (HAVA) demands that every state replicate Florida's system of centralized, computerized voter files before the 2004 election, presumably to avoid the paper-ballot confusion of the Florida recount. Martin Luther King III and Greg Palast recently co-authored a piece on the dangers of such databases, recalling the Florida debacle. Their conclusion: "Jim Crow has moved into cyberspace -- harder to detect, craftier in operation, shifting shape into the electronic guardian of a new electoral segregation."

ChoicePoint already has contracts with numerous states to provide electronic voter lists purged of supposed felons. They are a natural choice as one of the U.S.'s largest database companies. ChoicePoint provides information on federal criminal records by district for 43 states and also provides online access to more than 63 million criminal records for all fifty states. Who better to provide HAVA-mandated voter lists to state governments?


You Voted Republican, Trust Us

"It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting."
-- Tom Stoppard, 1972

Purged voter lists are only one method of pre-determining the outcome of an election. An even more serious problem lies inside the voting machines themselves. While representatives of Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia herald the benefits of their systems, not everyone shares their enthusiasm. Dr. Rebecca Mercuri is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Bryn Mawr College and has been referred to as "the leading independent expert on electronic voting technology." Shortly before the 2000 Presidential election, Mercuri defended her Ph.D. dissertation on the subject of "Electronic Vote Tabulation: Checks and Balances" at the Engineering School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Mercuri's website is an astonishing checklist of the lack of safeguards and other failings that plague the current crop of electronic voting systems. One of Mercuri's primary concerns is that electronic systems provide no way for a voter, or election officials, to verify that a cast ballot corresponds to the vote being recorded. As Mercuri notes on her site, "Any programmer can write code that displays one thing on a screen, records something else, and prints yet another result." There is no known way to ensure that this is not happening inside of a voting system. Companies such as Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia, which manufacture the machines and provide the code that runs them, simply take a "trust us" approach.

Mercuri also reports that no electronic voting system has been certified to even the lowest level of the U.S. government or international computer security standards such as the ISO Common Criteria, nor are they required to comply with such standards. Thus, no current electronic voting system is secure by the U.S. government's own standards.

Electronic voting systems without individual printouts for examination by voters do not provide an independent audit trail. All voting systems can make mistakes and the ability to perform manual hand-counts of ballots is the only way to verify results. Computer glitches are already cropping up all across the United States. Numerous irregularities with electronic voting machines have already been reported:

* In Georgia, which recently purchased 22,000 Diebold touch screens, some voters touched one candidate's name on the screen and saw another candidate's name appear
* A former news reporter in Florida discovered that votes were being tabulated in 644 Palm Beach precincts: but Palm Beach only has 643 precincts. An earlier court case in Florida found the same discrepancy. A reporter in New Jersey observed 104 precincts with votes in an area that has only 102 precincts.
* Baldwin County results showed that Democrat Don Siegelman won the state of Alabama. However, the next morning, 6,300 of Siegelman's votes disappeared and the election was handed to Republican Bob Riley. A recount was requested and denied.
* In North Carolina, a software programming error caused vote-counting machines to skip over several thousand votes, both Republican and Democratic. Fixing the error turned up 5,500 more votes and reversed the election.
* In Comal County Texas, an uncanny coincidence resulted in three Republican candidates winning by exactly 18,181 votes each. Two other Republican candidates outside Texas also won by exactly 18,181 votes.
* In October, election officials in Raleigh, N.C., discovered that early voters had to make several attempts to record their votes on ES&S systems. Officials compared the number of voters to the number of votes counted and realized that 294 votes had been lost.
* A report from the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project states that an estimated 1.5 million presidential votes were not recorded in 2000 because of difficulties using voting equipment and that electronic machines have the second highest rate of unmarked, uncounted and spoiled ballots in presidential, Senate, and governor elections over the last 12 years.

Federally mandated voting machines, almost exclusively manufactured by ES&S, Diebold and Sequoia are being constructed and tested under obsolete FEC recommendations. The US has authorized spending of over four billion dollars on new voting equipment, but as Mercuri notes, "failed to require or enforce adequate security, usability, reliability, and auditability controls over the products being purchased." The numerous flaws cited above ably demonstrate Mercuri's point.

Her concerns are echoed by Professor David Dill from Stanford University. He has created a resolution warning of the dangers of electronic voting machines. "Do not be seduced by the apparent convenience of "touch-screen voting" machines, or the "gee whiz" factor that accompanies flashy new technology," he writes. "Using these machines is tantamount to handing complete control of vote counting to a private company, with no independent checks or audits. These machines represent a serious threat to democracy."


Chuck Hagel and Nebraska's Upset

"If you want to win the election, just control the machines."
- Charlie Matulka, Nebraska Senatorial Candidate

Chuck Hagel first ran for the U.S. Senate in Nebraska in 1996. Electronic voting machines owned by Election Systems & Software (ES&S) reported that he had won both the primaries and the general election in unprecedented victories. His 1996 victory was considered one of the biggest upsets of that election. He was the first Republican to win a Nebraska senatorial campaign in 24 years and won virtually every demographic group, including many largely black communities that had never before voted Republican.

Six years later Hagel ran again against Democrat Charlie Matulka in 2002, and won in a landslide. He was re-elected to his second term with 83% of the vote: the biggest political victory in the history of Nebraska. Again, the votes were counted by ES&S, now the largest voting machine company in America.

While these victories could be dismissed simply as a Republican upset, a January 2003 article in the independent Washington paper The Hill revealed interesting details about Hagel's business investments and casts a different light on his election successes. Chuck Hagel was CEO of ES&S (then AIS) until 1995 and he is still a major stockholder of the parent company of ES&S, McCarthy & Company. Hagel resigned as CEO of ES&S to run for the Senate and resigned as president of the parent company McCarthy & Company following his election (where he remains a major investor).

Today, the McCarthy Group is run by Michael McCarthy, who happens to be Chuck Hagel's treasurer. Hagel's financials still list the McCarthy Group as an asset, with his investment valued at $1-$5 million. Campaign finance reports show that Michael McCarthy also served as treasurer for Hagel until December of 2002.

ES&S also has a connection to the Bush family. Jeb Bush's first choice as running mate in 1998 was Sandra Mortham who was a paid lobbyist for ES&S and received a commission for every county that bought its touch-screen machines.

The Hill's revelations of Hagel's conflict of interest was disturbing enough to cause Jan Baran, one of the most powerful Republican lawyers in Washington D.C., and Lou Ann Linehan, Senator Chuck Hagel's Chief of Staff, to walk into The Hill's offices to "discuss" the story. According to the author of the article, Alex Bolton, nothing similar had happened in the three-and-a-half years he's worked for the paper. It was, no doubt, a story Hagel would rather see go unreported.


Helping America Vote Right

"The Christian worldview is the answer. We need Christian statesmen who press for the Crown Rights of Jesus Christ in all areas of life. This isn't political salvation or an overnight fix. It will take decades of mobilization and confrontation to undo a century of godless socialism. It must be a grassroots movement that starts in individual families and churches and then moves outward to take dominion. It must encompass every area of life and not just the political arena. Finally, it must start soon, for there isn't much time left. The Florida elections have taught us that the Democrats with their liberal/socialistic worldview will stop at nothing to seize control of the government."
-- Dr. Val Finnell, published by the Chalcedon Institute

If the connections between Hagel and ES&S seem suspect, the origins of America's largest electronic voting machine companies may be just as distressing, especially for those who venerate the separation of church and state. The convoluted system of renaming and buyouts of America's voting system companies is a complicated story. However, once the various corporate trails have been followed, a disturbing picture comes into focus.

Brothers Bob and Todd Urosevich founded American Information Systems. Bob is currently president of Diebold and Todd Urosevich is Vice President, Aftermarket Sales of ES&S. (In 1999, American Information Systems, purchased Business Records Corp to become ES&S.)

American Information Systems (AIS) was primarily funded with money from Ahmanson brothers, William and Robert, of the Howard F. Ahmanson Co. The majority stake in ES&S is still owned by Howard F. Ahmanson and the Ahmanson Foundation

Howard Ahmanson belongs to Council for National Policy, a hard right wing organization and also helps finance The Chalcedon Institute. As the institute's own site reports, Chalcedon is a "Christian educational organization devoted to research, publishing, and promoting Christian reconstruction in all areas of life... Our emphasis on the Cultural or Dominion Mandate (Genesis 1:28) and the necessity of a return to Biblical Law has been a crucial factor in the challenge to Humanism by Christians in this country and elsewhere..." Chalcedon promotes Christian Reconstructionism, which mandates Christ's dominion over the entire world. The organization's purpose is to establish Old Testament Biblical law as the standard for society.


Solutions and Alternatives

Few individuals who are trying to alert citizens to the dangers of electronic voting are against computer voting unequivocally. Rather, the complaints focus on the lack of a verifiable paper trail and the inability of the public to examine the code that runs the machines. Professor Mercuri's October 2002 article, "A Better Ballot Box?" provides a solution to these concerns. She also poses a series of questions that she believes must be answered in order to allay security concerns. Mercuri's work is partly an attempt to design a machine in line with minimum standards set by the U.S. federal government, unlike the voting machines currently being installed across America.

The New York State Assembly recently passed legislation that specifically requires that machines "produce and retain a voter verified permanent paper record with a manual audit capacity" (but fails to mention the code that runs the machines). Rep. Rush Holt has introduced federal legislation, The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003 with similar aims. The measure would require all voting machines to produce an actual paper record by 2004 that voters can view to check the accuracy of their votes and that election officials can use to verify votes in the event of a computer malfunction, hacking, or other irregularity.

Other solutions exist to ensure the integrity of voting machines and address the concerns of people like Professor Mercuri. Jason Kitcat is the author of the Free e-democracy project, an open source project that builds Internet voting software. Likewise, Australia makes the code for their machines available online whereas American companies jealously guard the code that runs their machines. It seems a fair question, considering the list of problems that currently plague voting equipment: why are none of these alternatives being investigated?

The 2004 election will be the first to use nation-wide electronic voting. With the purging of voter lists, secrecy surrounding voting machines, the lack of a verifiable paper trail combined with voting machine companies with strong Republican ties and funding from the radical right, a Bush victory is all but inevitable. Welcome to the machines.

A Kinder, Gentler Nuclear War

Pre-war claims about Iraq's nuclear capabilities have yet to be confirmed, but solid proof is accumulating that depleted uranium has poisoned thousands of soldiers and civilians.

By Sandeep S. Atwal

"Really, these things are dirty bombs. Exactly the sort of device that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair keep talking about being in the hands of terrorists."
- Professor Malcolm Hooper, Emeritus Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, School of Sciences, University of Sunderland, UK

The June 1947 issue of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists featured, for the first time, a large clock on its cover. A permanent fixture thereafter, the clock was borne out of nuclear testing in the South Pacific, the impending arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and the unknown dangers of radiation. The "Doomsday Clock" represented, in the words of an accompanying editorial, "the state of mind of those whose closeness to the development of atomic energy does not permit them to forget that their lives and those of their children, the security of their country and the survival of civilization, all hang in the balance as long as the specter of atomic war has not been exorcized."

The hands of the clock were last moved on February 27, 2002. With little progress on nuclear disarmament, nuclear tests by India and Pakistan and concerns about the security of nuclear weapons materials, the minute hands of the clock were moved from nine to seven minutes to midnight. Now the spectre of nuclear weapons rises again over a recalcitrant North Korea and as part of the reason to force "regime change" in Iraq.

On Oct. 7, 2002 George W. Bush said, "The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his 'nuclear mujahideen' -- his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past." He raised the same point in these now-infamous sixteen words from his State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The claim was revealed to be based on forged evidence and was convincingly debunked by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, in his New York Times article "What I Didn't Find in Africa."

Despite this finger-pointing, the current threat from nuclear weapons and their inherent danger comes not from Iraq or North Korea but the United States and its allies. Scientists all over the world are amassing ample proof that the use of depleted uranium weapons has poisoned thousands of U.S. soldiers, caused birth defects in Iraq to multiply at an alarming rate and made areas of Afghanistan radioactive and uninhabitable. Former U.S. Army medical personnel are among the most unrelenting critics of the use of DU weapons.

The number of countries with depleted uranium continues to grow. At least 17 countries already have in their arsenals bullets made from depleted uranium (DU). Many - such as Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Taiwan - get them from the United States. England and France buy DU wholesale from the US. Russia now sells DU rounds on the open market.

In addition to the damage already done, the U.S. recently announced that it is seeking to introduce "low-yield" nuclear weapons into future conflicts. Unless the documentation of hundreds of doctors, scientists and researchers around the world is proven completely wrong, the U.S. has already brought the power and the fallout of nuclear weapons to the battlefield.

Radioactive Garbage

"Natural" uranium, as found in the earth's crust, is largely a mixture of two isotopes: uranium-238 (U-238), accounting for 99.3% and U-235 about 0.7%. A process to enrich U-238 creates uranium-235 for weapons and power plants. This procedure leaves behind a by-product called "depleted uranium," that is about 65% as radioactive as naturally occurring U-238. In addition to its radioactivity, depleted uranium is highly toxic, especially if ingested. Thousands of tons of the material was produced as a byproduct of producing thousands of nuclear weapons, creating a source of relatively inexpensive and effective armor-piercing projectiles. Depleted uranium is twice as dense as steel and pyrophoric in nature (it ignites on penetration). For these properties, DU was chosen over tungsten for use as both a defensive and offensive weapon.

However, when a DU weapon makes contact with a solid object and burns, the radioactive U-238 aerosolizes and is emitted into the environment in tiny particles. These U-238 particulates can be transported by wind or water and have been known to travel over 26 miles from their source. The toxic material enters the body through inhalation, ingestion, exploded fragments or other wound contamination.

In the U.S., depleted uranium weapons are handled by workers in HAZMAT suits and regular environmental testing is conducted in the areas where it is produced and test-firing is conducted. The Aberdeen Proving Ground (also known as the Superbox) where DU weapons are test-fired, consists of a 100 lb TNT blast equivalency containment vessel, real-time air quality monitoring and a highspeed door which closes immediately after the munitions pass through it to further minimize the amount of DU released to the open air. In Kosovo and Iraq, U.S. soldiers are exposed to the material with no protection, children play on radioactive tanks destroyed by DU weapons and depleted uranium shells litter the countryside.

U.S. and Allied forces fired approximately 350 tons of depleted uranium during the first Gulf War. During the second Gulf War, researchers estimate as many as 2,000 tons of depleted uranium was used. Ground forces, crews of military equipment who fired DU, Allied forces involved in "friendly fire" incidents, and soldiers who were around DU strike points were all exposed to the material.

Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor recently travelled to Iraq to measure radiation levels caused by DU weapons. The Monitor visited four sites in the city, including two randomly chosen Iraqi armored vehicles, burned American ammunition trucks and the downtown planning ministry, and found widespread radioactive contamination.

One pile of dust yielded a readout of 9,839 radioactive emissions in one minute, more than 300 times average background levels. Another pile of dust reached 11,585 emissions in a minute. Peterson also reported that six American vehicles struck with DU "friendly fire" in 1991 were deemed to be too contaminated to take home, and were buried in Saudi Arabia.

A DU tank round recovered in Saudi Arabia in 1991 was found by a US Army radiological team to be emitting 260 to 270 millirads of radiation per hour. The current U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission limit for non-radiation workers is 100 millirads per year. The normal public dose limit in the US, and recognized around much of the world, is 100 millirems per year. Of 16 vehicles brought back to a facility in South Carolina, six had to be buried in a low-level radioactive waste dump.

"Oh my God."

Peterson's investigation is a small contribution to the long-standing work of Dr. Doug Rokke. During the first Gulf War, the U.S. Army asked Major Rokke, a Vietnam veteran with over twenty years of service, to work with the U.S. Army Preventive Medicine Command and help prepare troops for nuclear, biological or chemical exposures. Dr. Rokke was in charge of cleaning up American tanks hit by DU during the first Gulf War, casualties of "friendly fire." In numerous lectures and speeches he has repeatedly described his first reaction upon arriving in Iraq in three words: "Oh my God." According to Rokke, about 70% of DU rounds vaporize into dust as fine as talcum powder. The dust from DU weapons exists in respirable sized particles, approximately 10 micrometers and less in diameter. It enters directly into lymph and blood through the lung-blood barrier and circulated throughout the whole body. These particles stay in the lungs for upwards of two years.

When his team climbed into vehicles that had been hit with DU weapons, the air was thick with DU dust. The team was given no protective gear during their mission. A 1995 physical exam by the US Department of Energy revealed that Rokke had 5,000 times the permissible level of uranium in his body. Twenty of Rokke's team of ninety-one researchers are now dead and Rokke is seriously ill, he suffers reactive airway disease, neurological damage and kidney problems and now travels around the world, delivering powerful lectures on the dangers of depleted uranium.

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a former Colonel in the U.S. Army has reached similar conclusions as Rokke. Dr. Durakovic was a professor of nuclear medicine at Georgetown University and the former head of nuclear medicine at the US Army's veterans' affairs medical facility in Delaware. Dr. Durakovic was the first person to identify uranium poisoning in Gulf War veterans. Dr. Durakovic has also given several interviews to alert people to the dangers of depleted uranium.

He gave an interview to Democracy NOW! earlier this year when he described areas of Afghanistan as so irradiated, they would be uninhabitable for the "foreseeable future." Durakovic's research shows uranium levels of a much higher concentration than Gulf War veterans. He believes that it was non-depleted uranium that was used in Afghanistan. Tests taken from Jalalabad subjects showed concentrations 400% to 2000% above that for normal populations, amounts which have not been recorded in civilian studies before. One conclusion is that the allied forces are now possibly using milled uranium ore in their warheads to maximize the effectiveness and strength of their weapons.

Rokke and Durakovic, both with distinguished service records, are particularly concerned about the effects of depleted uranium on American soldiers. In September 2000, Dr. Durakovic told a conference of nuclear scientists in Paris that "tens of thousands" of British and American soldiers are dying from radiation and soil samples from Iraq show radiation levels more than 17 times the acceptable level.

Casualties of The Gulf War

As of May 2002, 206,861 veterans had filed claims for benefits based on service-connected injuries and illnesses caused by Gulf War combat-related duties. The Department of Veterans Affairs has processed 183,249 claims for medical care, compensation, and pension, determining that for 159,238 veterans, their injuries and illnesses are service connected, caused by Gulf War exposures and injuries. Consequently they have been awarded lifetime medical care, compensation, and pensions based on the extent of their medical problems.

Since the cessation of Gulf War hostilities in 1991, an additional 8,013 veterans have died from service connected injuries and exposures incurred during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As of May 2002, the Gulf War casualties include 8,306 veterans dead and 159,705 veterans injured or ill as a consequence of wartime service. The official May 2002 Department of Veteran Affairs report classifies 16,8011 individuals as "disabled veterans," an astounding casualty rate of 29.3% for combat-related duties between 1990 and 1991. The VA still has claims from 23,612 individuals pending and has denied benefits to 24,011 veterans.

The danger from radiation is not restricted to the battlefield. The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant outside Paducah, Kentucky, is a uranium enrichment facility owned by the U.S. Department of Energy. The plant employs about 1,400 people and produces low-enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. Toxins that were emitted into the air, spilled into streams and ground water, and buried are moving through the food chain. An investigation by the Louisville-Courier-Journal showed that many of the more than 6,000 people who have worked at the plant are sick; most blame the radiation and toxic chemicals in the factory. They said they had inadequate protection from the ubiquitous dust and were not told of the danger. Similar claims are made by citizens living near the Oak Ridge facility and the dangers of uranium mining are well-documented.


Dr. Rokke's and Dr. Durakovic's claims are echoed by hundreds of individuals and organizations alike, from the Royal Society in Britain to former Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Researcher Dai Williams has conducted an astonishing amount of research into depleted uranium weapons and several documentaries including Iraq: Paying the Price by John Pilger and Downwind by Pinhole Pictures, both explore the damage caused by these weapons. The Nuclear Policy Research Institute (founded by Helen Caldicott) has been established to educate the world about the "medical, environmental, political and moral consequences of perpetuating nuclear weapons, power and waste." The NPRI held its first scientific symposium on June 14, 2003 and all of the presentations and research from that symposium are available to the public.

Scientific consensus is that depleted uranium weapons must be banned, individuals who may have been exposed to depleted uranium must receive medical care and all depleted uranium fragments and contaminated equipment must be cleaned up and disposed of at secure sites. Although the U.K. government has committed itself to begin testing its soldiers for uranium poisoning, the U.S. refuses to conduct similar testing and has ruled out the clean up of areas where DU was used. Unless these recommendations from the scientific community are adopted, it seems certain that more soldiers will die and more countries where DU weapons are used will become radioactive and uninhabitable. The dangers of DU weapons must be addressed soon.


Who Killed Malcolm X?

Malcolm X Window Carbine M1 Rifle By Any Means Necessary

Malcolm X by Dave Sim

By Sandeep S. Atwal

"I want you to watch and see if I'm not right in what I say: that the white man in his press, is going to identify me with "hate." He will make use of me dead, as he has made use of me alive, as a convenient symbol of "hatred"—and that will help him to escape facing the truth." — The Autobiography of Malcolm X

I think it's safe to say that had Sirhan Sirhan, Mark David Chapman or Arthur Bremer been granted parole in early 2010, it would have made the news. When they're routinely denied parole it usually makes the news. Yet Thomas Hagan (aka Talmadge Hayer), one of the convicted assassins of Malcolm X (the only one caught at the scene and the only one to confess), was granted parole between the span of the morning and evening news of April 27, 2010 to little attention. But then, even in 2010, the gap between the public perception and the historical reality of Malcolm X remains as immense as it was in 1965. He was much reviled then and is much reviled now, so nobody really has any opinion on the fact that one of his assassins is walking around as a free man. Since his assassination, Malcolm X's legacy has waned and his ideas have made few inroads into mainstream discourse. He is, at best, a marginal historical figure. He is rarely seen except as a t-shirt or a poster, scarcely quoted and generally perceived as a black supremacist hatemonger who got what was coming to him. His reputation as a violent agent of hate is a lazy synopsis made easy by the ever-present and simplistic contrast with MLK's supposed pacifism. This assessment usually comes with the unspoken addendum that if you know what's good for you, you'll disassociate yourself from him thoroughly and completely. He certainly remains "radioactive" in the political sphere. Consider the national outrage over Obama's association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who had paraphrased Malcolm X's comment about the Kennedy assassination being a case of "chickens coming home to roost"[1] almost a decade before the presidential election of 2008. Footage of Wright forced Obama to disassociate himself from Wright, his pastor of 20 years, thoroughly and completely. That's what happens in the public sphere today when someone you know has made even a passing reference to something Malcolm X said.

Despite this lingering perception of Malcolm X as a kind of black Hitler, the reality -- easily verified by historical speeches and interviews -- is that Malcolm X was an extremely intelligent, highly logical and rational man who understood and articulated the reality of being black in America as nobody had ever done before. At the height of his influence he was not only one of the most respected black leaders in America, but he was also beginning to wield enormous influence across the entire planet. He was an honored guest wherever he traveled in Africa and the Middle East. An autodidact who educated himself in prison, he was a keen student of history and as accomplished as any orator of the 20th century. He had an accurate understanding of the global nature of the racial problems facing America and had a plan about what to do about it. His domestic pairing with Reverend Martin Luther King in late 1964 and early 1965 is now undeniable. However, that move shocked and disturbed the U.S. intelligence community to its core, and was seen by FBI head J. Edgar Hoover as the single biggest threat to the national security of the United States. Malcolm X had forged strong relationships with the leaders of numerous newly-independent African states which, in addition to the longstanding surveillance by the FBI and the NYPD, led to him becoming a target of the CIA and the State Department...on top of death threats from the organization he had helped build, the Nation of Islam.

He had left his nationalism behind and became an internationalist. He changed the very nature of the civil rights debate by globalizing it. Rather than discuss the problems of black people in America as an issue of civil rights, he labeled it a struggle for human rights that could be taken to the United Nations. In hindsight, it's difficult to deny that he made a substantial contribution to the political, social, religious and moral discourse of how we treat each other as human beings both in the United States and across the planet. He understood that the United States was not immune to international pressure and he intended to bring that pressure to bear in order to address the racial problems the country faced. He was the first major political figure to reach out to African leaders since Marcus Garvey a quarter of a century previously. His influence was such that shortly after his death, several African nations did present Malcolm X's charges against the United States at the International Court of Justice, accusing it of violating the human rights of black people, essentially comparing it to South Africa and charging it with having its own system of apartheid under the name of second-class citizenship.

Certainly, nobody can claim greater credit for the post-war spread of Islam in America than Malcolm X...certainly not Elijah Muhammad. While Muhammad may have been the dear leader of the NOI, it was Malcolm X who increased membership in the Nation of Islam from a small cult of 500 people in 1952 (the year he was released from prison) to over 25,000 active temple members nationwide in 1963, and probably closer to 100,000 actual fee-paying members. He established the paramilitary wing of the organization, the Fruit of Islam ("We were martial artists, but we weren’t training to become black belts: we were training to kill black belts." — Thomas 15X Johnson). The newspaper Malcolm X founded, Muhammad Speaks (renamed The Final Call by Louis Farrakhan) was, by the end of the 60s, the largest black-owned newspaper in the country with a national circulation of 600,000 copies.

In a little over a decade, he went from just another prisoner to one of the most respected leaders on the world stage. His transformation was astonishing by any standard. Had his message been simply the pseudo-Islamic, quasi-mystic, black nationalism of Elijah Muhammad, it's unlikely anybody would have ever heard of Malcolm X or the Nation of Islam. But his appeal to the masses of people was undeniably real. Amidst the language of peace, love, harmony and non-violence, Malcolm X spoke clearly, directly and with an uncompromising voice to articulate what the vast majority of black people were really thinking: the promises of future justice and future equality was small comfort compared to the daily reality of lynchings, murder, rapes, beatings, firehoses, police dogs, Jim Crow, disenfranchisement and a history that had been stolen 400 years ago. This was not a society that wanted to be integrated and forced integration was not a viable solution. As John Henrik Clarke put it in the 1994 documentary Make It Plain, "While the other leaders were begging for entry into the house of their oppressor, he was telling you to build your own house." His radical position was that black people should have the same...exactly the same...rights as white people and they should have them right now. After 400 years of slavery, the white man had no moral right to ask the black man to wait any longer to enjoy the rights and freedoms upon which America prided itself. It denied black Americans equal rights even as it called on them again and again to fight and die abroad in the very name of those rights that they could not enjoy at home. Forty years later, his arguments still carry tremendous weight and yet for the most part, they remain too brutally honest to be faced directly by the public society of 2010. That brutal honesty is one of his enduring strengths:
"One white man named Lincoln supposedly fought the civil war to solve the race problem and the problem is still here...the same white man issued the Emancipation Proclamation to solve the race problem and the problem is still here. Some more white liberals came along with the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments which were supposed to solve the race problem and the problem is still here. Nine years ago, nine more white liberals, so-called, came up with what they called the Supreme Court desegregation decision and the problem is still here. Then another white man named Kennedy came along, running for president, and told Negroes what all he was going to do for them if they voted for him, and they voted for him 80 percent, and he's been in office now for three years and the problem is still here. When police dogs were biting black women and black children and black babies in Birmingham, Alabama, that...Kennedy talked about what he couldn't do because no federal law had been violated, and as soon as the Negroes exploded and began to protect themselves and got the best of the crackers in Birmingham, then Kennedy sent for troops. And he didn't have any new law when he sent for the troops when the Negroes erupted than he had at the time when whites were erupting. So we are within our rights and with...justification when we express doubt concerning the ability of the white man to solve our problem and also when we express doubt concerning his integrity, concerning his sincerity, because you will have to confess that the problem has been around here for a long time and whites have been saying the same thing about it for the past 100 years and it's no nearer a solution today than it was a hundred years ago." (The Problem is Still Here)

He cut America no slack whatsoever and refused to express his criticisms in anything but the harshest terms:
"I am speaking as a black man from America which is a racist society, no matter how much you hear it talk about democracy it’s as racist as South Africa or as racist as Portugal or as racist as any other racialist society on this earth. The only difference between it and South Africa, South Africa preaches separation and practices separation, America preaches integration and practices segregation. This is the only difference, they don’t practice what they preach, whereas South Africa practices and preaches the same thing. I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong, than the one comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil." (Oxford Union Debate, December 3, 1964)

At his most fierce, he invoked warnings that sounded more like threats:
"I, for one, as a Muslim, believe that the white man is intelligent enough...if he were made to realize how black people really feel and how fed up we are without that old compromising sweet talk...why you're the one who makes it hard for yourself. The white man believes you when you go to him with that old sweet talk, 'cause you've been sweet-talking him ever since he brought you here. Stop sweet-talking him. Tell him how you feel. Tell him what kind of hell you've been catching and let him know that if he's not ready to clean his house up... if he's not ready to clean his house up....he shouldn't have a house. It should catch on fire, and burn down." (Speech in Los Angeles after an attack on members of the Nation of Islam)

He spoke in simple but striking analogies that painted his argument for him:
"If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out three inches, that's not progress. If you pull it out six inches, that's not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that's not progress. The progress comes from healing the wound that the blow made, but they haven't even begun to pull the knife out...they won't even admit the knife is there." (Interview after the NOI began eviction proceedings)

His desire for revolutionary change was articulated frequently:
"Sometimes I'm inclined to believe that many of our people are using this word "revolution" loosely, without taking careful consideration of what this word actually means, and what its historic characteristics are. When you study the historic nature of revolutions, the motive of a revolution, the objective of a revolution, the result of a revolution, and the methods used in a revolution, you may change words. You may devise another program, you may change your goal and you may change your mind. Look at the American Revolution in 1776. That revolution was for what? For land. Why did they want land? Independence. How was it carried out? Bloodshed. Number one, it was based on land, the basis of independence. And the only way they could get it was bloodshed. The French Revolution...what was it based on? The landless against the landlord. What was it for? Land. How did they get it? Bloodshed. Was no love lost, was no compromise, was no negotiation. I'm telling you...you don't know what a revolution is. Because when you find out what it is, you'll get back in the alley, you'll get out of the way. The Russian Revolution...what was it based on? Land; the landless against the landlord. How did they bring it about? Bloodshed. You haven't got a revolution that doesn't involve bloodshed. And you're afraid to bleed. I said, you're afraid to bleed. As long as the white man sent you to Korea, you bled. He sent you to Germany, you bled. He sent you to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese, you bled. You bleed for white people, but when it comes to seeing your own churches being bombed and little black girls murdered, you haven't got any blood. You bleed when the white man says bleed; you bite when the white man says bite; and you bark when the white man says bark. I hate to say this about us, but it's true. How are you going to be nonviolent in Mississippi, as violent as you were in Korea? How can you justify being nonviolent in Mississippi and Alabama, when your churches are being bombed, and your little girls are being murdered, and at the same time you are going to get violent with Hitler, and Tojo, and somebody else you don't even know? If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is wrong for America to draft us and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country." (The Ballot or the Bullet, October 10, 1963)

He knew the reality of politics in 1960s America and how they were clearly stacked against any supposed reform:
Twenty-two million black victims of Americanism are waking up and they're gaining a new political consciousness, becoming politically mature. And as they become -- develop this political maturity, they're able to see the recent trends in these political elections. They see that the whites are so evenly divided that every time they vote the race is so close they have to go back and count the votes all over again. And that...which means that any block, any minority that has a block of votes that stick together is in a strategic position. Either way you go, that's who gets it. You're in a position to determine who'll go to the White House and who'll stay in the dog house. You're the one who has that power. You can keep Johnson in Washington D.C., or you can send him back to his Texas cotton patch. You're the one who sent Kennedy to Washington. You're the one who put the present Democratic Administration in Washington D.C. The whites were evenly divided. It was the fact that you threw 80 percent of your votes behind the Democrats that put the Democrats in the White House. When you see this, you can see that the Negro vote is the key factor. And despite the fact that you are in a position to be the determining factor, what do you get out of it? The Democrats have been in Washington D.C. only because of the Negro vote. They've been down there four years, and they're -- all other legislation they wanted to bring up they brought it up and gotten it out of the way, and now they bring up you. And now, they bring up you. You put them first, and they put you last, 'cause you're a chump, a political chump. In Washington D.C., in the House of Representatives, there are 257 who are Democrats; only 177 are Republican. In the Senate there are 67 Democrats; only 33 are Republicans. The Party that you backed controls two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and still they can't keep their promise to you, 'cause you're a chump. Anytime you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two-thirds of the government, and that Party can't keep the promise that it made to you during election time, and you're dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that Party, you're not only a chump, but you're a traitor to your race. You look at the structure of the government that controls this country; it's controlled by 16 senatorial committees and 20 congressional committees. Of the 16 senatorial committees that run the government, 10 of them are in the hands of Southern segregationists. Of the 20 congressional committees that run the government, 12 of them are in the hands of Southern segregationists. And they're going to tell you and me that the South lost the war. (The Ballot of the Bullet, April 12, 1964)

His knowledge of scripture was comprehensive and he knew how to reach a religious audience:
"They charged Jesus with sedition...didn't they do that? They said he was against Caesar. They said he was discriminating because he told his disciples, 'Go not the way of the gentiles, but rather go to the lost sheep.' Don't go near the gentiles. Go to the lost sheep. Go to the people who don't know who they are, who are lost from the knowledge of themselves and who are strangers in a land that is not theirs. Go to those people. Go to the slaves. Go to the second-class citizens. Go to the ones who are suffering the brunt of Caesar's brutality. And if Jesus were here in America today, he wouldn't be going to the white man. The white man is the oppressor. He would be going to the oppressed. He would be going to the humble. He would be going to the lowly. He would be going to the rejected and the despised. He would be going to the so-called American negro." (Malcolm X in Los Angeles, May 22, 1962)

Reading speeches and interviews from the last year of his life is to read Malcolm X urge that Islamic leaders pay greater attention to the plight of Muslim world. Sound advice in 2010, it's an astonishingly prescient message for 1965:
"Since the Arab image is almost inseparable from the image of Islam, the Arab world has a multiple responsibility that it must live up to. Since Islam is a religion of brotherhood and unity those who take the lead in expounding this religion are duty-bound to set the highest example of brotherhood and unity. It is imperative that Cairo and Mecca (the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs and the Muslim World League) have a religious "summit" conference and show a greater degree of concern and responsibility for the present plight of the Muslim world, or other forces will rise up in this present generation of young, forward-thinking Muslims and the "power centers" will be taken from the hands of those that they are now in and placed elsewhere." (Al-Muslimoon Magazine, February, 1965)

None of his speeches or interviews can be properly appreciated without actually hearing them in the context in which they were delivered. His ability to speak about race in uncompromising terms, touch a crowd with the naked truth, articulate their anger, answer audience questions shrewedly and with style and deftly handle hostile interviewers remains unparalleled. Of all his rhetorical skills, his ability to defuse a situation with wit and humor has been buried the deepest but there can be no doubt that he could be a very funny man. The so-called leaders who followed in his wake, be it Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton have never come close to matching Malcolm's oratorical power and thus have never come close to reaching the audience he reached. In 1963, he was second only to John F. Kennedy as the most sought-after speaker on college campuses in the U.S. and was a guest at Berkeley, Harvard, Oxford and Yale.

Contrary to the almost universal public perception of him, Malcolm X never advocated violence. He advocated the right of self-defense and self-preservation that was deemed a fundamental right to all but black Americans. He demanded those rights by any means necessary. If somebody comes at you with a rifle or a club or a noose, and the government is either unwilling or unable to protect you, and you are exercising the freedom of speech or freedom of assembly or freedom of religion that your government prides itself upon, you are completely within your rights to defend yourself. It is a reasonable proposition now and it was a reasonable proposition then. As he once said when discussing the outrage over his statement that black people should go out and buy rifles and join rifle clubs: "White people been buying rifles all their lives...no commotion."

* * *

"They're afraid that I will tell the real reason that I'm out of the Black Muslim movement, which I never told, I kept to myself. But the real reason is that Elijah Muhammad, the head of the movement, is the father of eight children by six different teenaged girls, six different teenaged girls who were his private personal secretaries." - Malcolm X, 1964

One of the most striking images of Malcolm X is of him at his home at 23-11 97th Street in East Elmhurst, Queens, peering out of his window with a rifle in hand. Although it’s an iconic photograph, [2] it's usually misinterpreted as Malcolm X looking out for whitey. In fact, it is Malcolm X defending his house, his wife and his children from his own people and the organization that he had built. As National Spokesman for the NOI, he was necessarily on the road most of the time and far away from the machinations of the organization's leadership in Chicago. Meanwhile, his own slavish devotion to Elijah Muhammad allowed him to ignore even the suggestion of improprieties by his surrogate father. However, he eventually faced the truth about Elijah Muhammad's philandering (by Elijah's son, Wallace) as well as internal corruption and jealousy within the NOI. As Elijah's family waited for the sickly patriarch to die, their primary concern was that Malcolm X would become the next leader and reveal the organization's corruption. As Malcolm X's profile rose, the rumours and lies being whispered into Elijah Muhammad's ears about the young minister's plans to usurp his power and take over the Nation spread steadily. The split between master and student had been well underway for some time.

Forced out of the Nation against his will, the combination of enmity from both the NOI and the intelligence community meant his days were numbered and he knew it. Throughout 1964 and 1965 he and his followers were under constant attack at home and abroad. As threats against his life grew more frequent and more serious, he publicly labeled the NOI a criminal organization and Elijah Muhammad insane. When he made a public statement about Elijah Muhammad's infidelities, he had signed his own death warrant and publicly stated so in several interview. ("We weren’t training to become black belts: we were training to kill black belts.") In one interview, when asked by CBS' Mike Wallace about the possibility of his life being in jeopardy, he stated matter-of-factly, "I probably am a dead man already". In his autobiography, he stated that he didn't expect to live long enough to see its publication. He was right, again.

On January 14, 1965, his house was firebombed with his wife and children inside. The NOI publicly accused Malcolm X of trying to burn down his own house and murder his own family as a publicity stunt designed to delay eviction proceedings. One week later, Malcolm X prepared to deliver a major speech, outlining the founding principles of his newly established Organization of Afro-American Unity. On Sunday February 21, 1965, just after 3:00 p.m., Malcolm began speaking to an audience of about 400 people at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, just north of Harlem. His wife (pregnant with twins) and his four daughters sat in the audience near the front. Just after Malcolm greeted the crowd with the traditional "As-Salamu Alaykum," an argument between two men started near the back of the crowd. Malcolm's security rushed to investigate, a smokebomb went off and the crowd began to panic. In the confusion, assassins who had been sitting in the front rows rushed the stage and unloaded on Malcolm with a shotgun blast and pistol shots, hitting him 16 times in total, killing him. He was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m., shortly after he arrived at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

Three men were convicted of the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X: Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler, and Thomas 15X Johnson. Hayer was shot and caught at the scene. Both Butler and Johnson were well known to Malcolm's people as current members of the NOI and, thus, potential enemies. Had they been at the Audubon that day, they would certainly have been refused entry or at the very least, carefully monitored. Hayer refused to name either or them as accomplices, but also refused to name who his real accomplices were. In 1977 and 1978, Hayer submitted two sworn affidavits re-asserting his claim that Butler and Johnson were not involved in the assassination. In his affidavits Hayer named four men, all members of the NOI's Temple Number 25 in New Jersey, as having participated with him in the crime. Hayer asserted that a man he knew as "Wilbur" and "Kinly", later identified as Wilbur McKinley, shouted and threw a smoke bomb to create a diversion. Hayer said that a man named "Willie", later identified as William Bradley, had a shotgun and was the first to fire on Malcolm X after the diversion. Hayer also stated that a man named "Lee" or "Leon", later identified as Leon David, was armed with a pistol and fired on Malcolm X immediately after the shotgun blast along with Hayer. Hayer also said a man named "Ben", later identified as Benjamin Thomas, was involved in the conspiracy. Hayer's statements failed to convince authorities to reopen their investigation of the murder.

Like practically every other assassination in the assassination-heavy sixties, the confusion over who killed Malcolm X is considerable. One newspaper account states that two men were arrested by the police. Was a second man taken away? Conspiracy theorists will always have the Monday morning edition of the New York Herald to suggest the involvement of either the NYPD or the FBI. This is entirely plausible since we know with the benefit of hindsight (and the Freedom of Information Act) that the NYPD and the FBI were deeply involved in exacerbating the divisions between Malcolm and the NOI, which led directly to his death. Although George Breitman's The Assassination of Malcolm X is a good primer on the basic facts, the best book on the assassination of Malcolm X is Karl Evanzz' 1992 book The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X. Evanzz had access to the FBI's complete file on Malcolm X and knows the subject matter intimately. His book is absolutely essential to understanding the massive campaign directed against Malcolm X.

Thanks to Evanzz, we now know that Malcolm's organization had been infiltrated by NYPD undercover agent Gene Roberts and he had also been under surveillance by the FBI for years. The FBI had infiltrated the NOI with their agent John Ali who was the NOI's national press secretary (and the Judas in the title of Evanzz' book). The FBI and the NYPD certainly had no love for Malcolm X, and bragged openly about the role of COINTELPRO in aggravating the rift between Malcolm and the NOI. In addition to Hayer's affidavits, footage from 1993 of Louis Farrakhan all but admitting to the NOI's involvement in the assassination surfaced in the 1994 documentary, Brother Minister: The Assassination of Malcolm X.

Evanzz reveals that along with several members of Elijah's Muhammad's immediate family, Louis X (later Farrakhan) and FOI captain Joseph X, the internal campaign against Malcolm X was largely directed by John Ali, the NOI's national secretary, largely in charge of finances (which had started to decline as soon as Malcolm X left)...and an FBI agent. First identified in Louis Lomax's 1963 book When the Word is Given, Ali's role, as well as the various operations against Malcolm by the NYPD and the CIA, are detailed extensively in The Judas Factor. It was obviously no secret that the racist hatemonger J. Edgar Hoover saw a serious threat in the union of King and X. As Evanzz makes eminently clear, while the NOI had their own reasons to kill Malcolm X, they were only one of several organizations that sought his death and were heavily aided in their goal of killing Malcolm.

Thomas 15X Johnson (now Khalil Islam) has maintained his innocence since his arrest in his Bronx apartment days after the assassination. He was given the role of the man with the shotgun, even though the assassin had been described as dark-skinned with a full beard while Johnson was light-skinned and was beardless at the time. He spent 22 years in prison. Butler, now known as Muhammad Abdul Aziz, was paroled in 1985. He became the head of the Nation of Islam's Harlem mosque in New York in 1998. Hayer also denied Aziz' involvement. As of 1993, William Bradley was in prison on a charge unrelated to the assassination of Malcolm X. Leon David was reported to be living in Paterson, New Jersey. Hayer, now known as Mujahid Halim, was granted day releases in 1993 and was paroled in 2010. Little is known about McKinley, and Evanzz states in his book that one researcher has concluded that he is dead. Benjamin Thomas died in 1986.

* * *

In describing the sudden, explosive growth of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X once explained to an interviewer that when you plant a seed in the soil, you have to wait for some time to pass. As time passes, the season changes and when the seasons have changed, the climate changes so that the environment is now conducive to the growth of that seed. When it finally does sprout, a plant can grow very quickly. (Malcolm X was, not for the last time, crediting Elijah Muhammad with achievements that rightfully belonged to him.) Today, with the easy spread of information, individuals can actually hear and see Malcolm X deliver his message with the full power of his oratorical skills. While his autobiography has never gone out of print and the text of many of his speeches have been available for years, the difference between reading his words on the page and seeing him deliver them in front of a receptive audience is the difference between black and white. While the climate may not have changed enough for his ideas to reach the mainstream, more and more people every day realize that the story of the hatemonger is a lie. They hear his actual words for himself and they see no reason to disassociate themselves from him thoroughly and completely:

"I really don’t know what to think about Malcolm X. The media has portrayed him as a violent man, yet all the quotations that I could find from him were things I agree with completely. If I were to judge this man, solely on the quotations that I was able to find for him...I would laud him." (Laura S. Moncur, Staff Writer, quotationspage.com)

"People today who claim Malcolm X was racist obviously have nowhere near a full comprehension of the type of era he lived in: lynching, burnings, and senseless random killings of black people. He just said out loud what most black people thought. For those who believed he should have been more peaceful and kind well he needed a reason to be. He believed in fighting back, and not taking any crap. Sorry if that isn't politically correct enough for you guys." (youtube user, l9ois)

"I don't know much about Malcolm X but that one minute talk made a lot of sense to me....perhaps I have been lied to about this man." (youtube user, snowball1776)

"I'm white, and growing up in school during Black History Month it was always like 'OK kids, there were these two guys, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and they were both civil rights leaders but Malcolm X was violent so he wasn't as good.' And I believed that for a long time, but I've watched a lot of these videos and even at his most radical he was only talking about self defense and almost everyone is OK with that. I wonder if it was like that for everyone else? I wonder if little kids today are still learning like that?" (youtube user, shondeaphid)

I'm pretty sure they are. He was not only too advanced for his own time, but for our time as well. In the end, he preached internationalism to a world that was still adjusting to life after colonialism. As long as the public associates him with hate and violence, it demonstrates a lack of understanding and perpetuates a lie that runs against our own best interests. However, it is a simple fact that the real philosophy of Malcolm X, a philosophy that cannot be erased or ignored and continues to spread, is still being seen and heard by more people every day. Over time, however long that time is, the truth does overcome lies. A time will come when Malcolm X is restored to the position of authority he held for many people during the last year of his life; as one of the most important human rights leaders the world has ever seen. Despite the best efforts of the FBI, the CIA, the NOI and the NYPD to silence the man, his words remain as strongly accusatory and accurate as ever. The criticism of global forces that denied human beings their legitimate rights remains as sharp and relevant as ever and the solution--peace, freedom, justice and equality for all people, by any means necessary--retains all of its honesty and power.

"The main thing is that we keep a united front wherein our most valuable time and energy will not be wasted fighting each other. However we may have differed with him - or with each other about him and his value as a man - let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now. Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man - but a seed - which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us." - —Eulogy by Ossie Davis at the funeral of Malcolm X, February 27, 1965



1. On December 1, 1963, when he was asked for a comment about the assassination of President Kennedy, Malcolm X said that it was a case of "chickens coming home to roost". He added that "chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they've always made me glad." In further criticism of Mr. Kennedy, the Muslim leader cited the murders of Patrice Lumumba, Congo leader, of Medgar Evers, civil rights leader, and of the Negro girls bombed earlier this year in a Birmingham church. These, he said, were instances of other 'chickens coming home to roost'." -- The New York Times, Dec. 2, 1963.

“It was, as I saw it, a case of ‘the chickens coming home to roost.’ I said that the hate in white men had not stopped with the killing of defenseless black people, but that hate, allowed to spread unchecked, had finally struck down this country’s Chief Magistrate.” -- Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The phrase "chickens coming home to roost" was used by Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996): THE CHICKENS HAVE COME HOME TO ROOST -- Chickens scratch around in the barnyard, in the fields and woods during the day. But at night they come home to the hen-house to roost. This saying is comparing a person's evil or foolish deeds to chickens. If a person does wrong, the "payback" might not be immediate. But at some point, at the end of the day, those "chickens" will come home to roost. "One has to face the consequences of one's past actions. In English, the proverb goes back to Chaucer's 'Parson's Tale' (c 1390), "And ofte tyme swich cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a bryd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest". In 1810, the English poet Robert South wrote, "Curses are like young chickens; they always come home to roost." It was also know to Terence (about 190-159 B.C.) First attested in the United States in the 'Life of Jefferson S. Batkins' (1871). The proverb is found in varying forms: Curses, like chickens, come home to roost; Sooner or later chickens, come home to roost...".

"The Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997): "Malcolm X stirred up a hornet's nest when he said this about John F. Kennedy after the (U.S.) president was assassinated, possibly alluding to the alleged C.I.A. attempts on Fidel Castro's life. But the saying is an old one, dating back to at least 1810 in the form of 'Curses are like young chickens; they always come home to roost,' which appears to have been the invention of English poet laureate Robert Southey as the motto of his poem 'The Curse of Kehama.' The idea, of course, is that every curse or evil act returns to its originator as chickens return to their roost at night."

2. Although it’s a famous photograph, I couldn’t find any high-resolution versions online or any information about the photographer or where it appeared. All online sources I could find credit this photo as appearing in the March 20, 1964 issue of LIFE magazine, but after buying that issue on eBay, I saw a short Malcolm X story, but not the photo. I reached out to a friend, who put out some queries on some photo sites. No luck. I contacted Wayne Taylor who runs the excellent Malcolm X Project at Columbia University, his answer was that “allegedly Malcolm had the photo taken by folks within his organization for publicity purposes not long before his death. Because of constant death threats and the firebombing of his home, Malcolm wanted to put out a photo showing that he was indeed armed and ready to defend himself against future threats. However, I can't say where and when the photo was published.” Several months after he posted the question, my friend finally got a response back to his question on the message boards on photo.net:

“At first I tried, according to the faulty note regarding the origin of the photo on Wikipedia, to search for it in the March 20, 1964 issue of Time. As you can imagine, the effort was of no avail. However, after two hours of intensive search, i finally stumbled upon the answer: The photograph was taken by New York Times photographer, Don Hogan Charles, and was published in the September 1964 issue of Ebony Magazine. I hope this information helps. Moreover, I am hoping that, by providing you with this info, you guys will help correct those wrong information on Wikipedia."

Oddly, the famous picture is in a 1993 reprint of the article in Ebony during the release of Spike Lee's movie...but not in the original 1964 issue. However, a similar picture does appear in the 1964 issue, Googling Don Hogan Charles turned up a blog entry. According to the blog, Malcolm X got Charles the job at the Times, where he became the paper’s first black photographer and "gave Harlem a voice in the paper".