X-Ploitation: Auctioneering and legacy turf wars continue at Malcolm X’s 80th birthday

Recent charges by a prominent scholar have spilled even more kerosene upon the memory of the already controversial activist Malcolm X, who would have been 80 on May 19, claiming that Autobiography co-author Alex Haley may have been an FBI informant who collaborated in suppressing three critical chapters from the book considered a modern classic by many. Locked in a lawyer’s safe to this day, these legendary “missing” chapters are the pan-Africanist equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In a February 21st interview on Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now!, Professor Manning Marable, a major leftist American scholar and former head of Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African-American Studies, alleged that Haley’s self-chosen rôle was to shape the Autobiography to put Malcolm X in an unflattering light. “Haley was a republican. He was an integrationist. He was very opposed to Black Nationalism,” said Marable. “Haley felt he could make a solid case in favor of racial integration by showing what was--to white America--what was the consequence of their support for racial separatism that would end up producing a kind of hate.”

Karl Evanzz is one of the leading Malcolm X scholars on the planet, author of The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X and The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad, and an on-line editor at The Washington Post. He dismisses Marable's claims outright, telling me, “It’s the old guilt-by-association attack. He’s basically saying that if one writer had been compromised, then both had been, which I think is pretty far-fetched. It reminds me of McCarthyism, where if one guy was a communist, and you knew him, then you were a communist, which is pretty ridiculous.... There’s no way [Marable ] could make that assumption based on the evidence he had.”

Then why make the charge? “I suspect that the professor hasn’t found very much in his search for biographical material for the book he’s doing on Malcolm X. I think it’s a really cheap shot to say that Alex Haley was an informant based upon the fact that a co-writer was feeding information to the FBI, even if that’s true.... [Marable] found nothing to say that Haley was freely exchanging information about Malcolm with the FBI.”

Unabridged text at Minister Faust.com.

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Malcolm X said…
Thanks very much for the post.