Radio Personality Threatened After Farrakhan Appearance
Special to the NNPA from the Final CallBy Brian E. Muhammad
Syndicated radio talk show host Warren Ballentine recently got an increase in threats for his on air interview with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam.
Ballentine, who is also an attorney, interviewed the outspoken leader March 2 on a daily mid-morning radio show after the Minister delivered his annual Saviours' Day address on Sunday, Feb. 28, in Chicago.
Ballentine, who was voted one of Ebony magazine's most influential media personalities, also broadcast live from the United Center arena during Saviours' Day and played Min. Farrakhan's remarks live. He also broadcast live on the opening day of the Nation of Islam convention for a second year in a row. Ballentine hosts a weekly Monday morning segment devoted to news stories covered in The Final Call newspaper.
Ballentine dismissed the threats in a telephone interview with The Final Call, saying threats are nothing new and have been regular since becoming a national voice via radio.
"This isn't something that's unusual at all, I've had threats on my life, basically ever since I got into syndication and started talking about Black empowerment. And then the Minister comes on and kind of drives home the point better than I ever could; then they really get afraid because they understand that it is not just the Nation of Islam, but its Black folks who may not be in the Nation, who are still friends with the Nation and willing to work with the Nation. That's the greatest fear in the world for America," Ballentine told The Final Call via telephone.
The Chicago native also known as the "people's lawyer" for his advocacy of the masses uses the reach the airwaves to push innovative ideas, challenge the status quo and develop a dedicated listenership of "Truth Fighters" across the country.
"Now, I'm trying to wake us up economically," Ballentine said. "If we understood our economic positioning, it will change everything in this country, from education to job opportunities, to entrepreneurship, to how we eat."
He continued, "My whole thought process right now is to awaken the sleeping beast."
For Min. Farrakhan, such controversy is not new and has become a weapon used by his detractors who makes him a litmus test for Blacks or anyone who engages with the leader. Some harassment has been used as a tactic to attempt to cause alienation of the Minister by leaders and groups that responded to fear. Others see it as an extension of the "big lie" method of the U.S. government targeting programs, where if a lie is told long enough it becomes truth.
"These crackpots, who no matter what the Minister is doing to better the whole world, they're going to try and go with the Jewish rhetoric that was out there in the '80s and say that he's a 'hate monger.' I've been categorized now as a hate monger because I openly speak fondly of the Minister," Ballentine said.
Since the 1980's, Minister Farrakhan has been the target of a smear campaign.
The efforts to marginalize Minister Farrakhan hasn't been limited to the borders of the U.S. After the success of the 1995 Million Man March, the Minister embarked on two World Friendship Tours to spread the message of "atonement" and "reconciliation." At every turn the U.S. State Department intervened and warned sovereign nations against receiving Min. Farrakhan. In one instance with Uganda, the U.S. government gave President Yoweri Museveni an ultimatum, if he officially welcomed Farrakhan, Kampala would be passed over for President Clinton's Africa tour that year.
By some hostile responses to his relationship with the Minister, Mr. Ballentine complimented the work of the 80-year-old organization the Muslim leader heads.
He said, "The greatest thing that has happened to Black America is the Nation of Islam. The Nation of Islam has done more to uplift the Black man and the Black community than any organization, than any movement that ever happened in this country."