The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam (NOI), has initiated a lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), seeking a staggering $4.8 billion in damages.
The lawsuit alleges that the ADL has consistently and falsely labeled him as anti-Semitic, causing irreparable harm to both his reputation and that of the Nation of Islam.
The roots of the lawsuit go back to 1983. Minister Louis Farrakhan, known for his eloquence and powerful oratory, delivered a speech at the 20th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.
Despite speaking for only six minutes, his address was so impactful that it was lauded by The Washington Post as the most significant message of the day. During this period, Reverend Jesse Jackson informed Minister Farrakhan of his intention to run for the 1984 Presidential nomination, seeking his endorsement.
Reverend Jackson’s campaign, which advocated for a balanced foreign policy concerning Israel and Palestine, drew sharp criticism from the ADL after he referred to New York as “Hymietown” during an interview in 1984.
In a controversial move, a group named “Jews Against Jackson” published an ad in The New York Times, questioning Reverend Jackson’s suitability for Jewish and American support.
This ad led to a surge of threats against Reverend Jackson. Concerned for his safety, Minister Farrakhan provided security for Jackson and his family through the Fruit of Islam, a trained group of men from the Nation of Islam.
According to the lawsuit, the ADL’s scrutiny soon shifted from Reverend Jackson to Minister Farrakhan himself. The organization accused him of holding and promoting anti-Semitic views, a claim he has vehemently denied.
“Said plainly, the Defendant ADL uses the term ‘anti-Semitic’ as a ‘trick,’ and as a bludgeon to beat people into submitting to its will, and their actions, in this regard, are not in alignment with the will of ‘The Founding Fathers’ of the United States of America,” according to Farrakhan’s lawyer, Abdul Arif Muhammad ESQ.
The ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, dismissed the lawsuit. “Louis Farrakhan is an antisemite. One need look no further than his own words and statements to come away with the same conclusion,” he told The New York Post.
The lawsuit delves deep into the history of the ADL’s actions, highlighting instances where the organization has labeled individuals as “Anti-Semitic” for expressing views that diverge from its policies.
Notable figures such as Andrew Young, Ice Cube, DeSean Jackson, Marc Lamont Hill, and even comedian Dave Chapelle have faced similar accusations from the ADL. The lawsuit alleges that the ADL has used this label as a “trick” to manipulate, punish, and influence others to conform to its views, particularly regarding policies regarding the Palestinian People or criticisms of Israel’s alleged misconduct.
Furthermore, the lawsuit discusses the ADL’s purported ties with governmental agencies. Historical documents suggest that as early as the 1940s, the ADL had connections with the FBI, with evidence pointing to collaborations in espionage and sharing private information.
The lawsuit also alleges that the ADL has worked to hinder Minister Farrakhan’s ability to speak freely, especially on Black college campuses, by imposing onerous requirements and threatening repercussions.
Minister Farrakhan’s legal action is not just about seeking $4.8 billion in damages for alleged defamation and violating his First Amendment rights.
It also calls for a reevaluation of the term “antisemite,” urging the court to declare its false use as defamation per se. Additionally, the lawsuit seeks a declaration that the ADL operates as a quasi-governmental actor, given its alleged ties with government agencies.