Why Is United Airlines Promoting Louis Farrakhan And His Anti-LGBT, Anti-Semitic Saviour’s Day?
I was scrolling along on Twitter the other day and came across a tweet that stopped my scrolling. I saw the user that posted the tweet was the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Right away, I noticed the very recognizable United Airlines logo on the advertisement.
It’s not unheard of that an airline has naming rights to an arena (i.e. American Airlines Center). It was the content of the message that disturbed me. The advertisement was an event for Louis Farrakhan, a man who has made anti-Semitic, anti-LGBT, and anti-white remarks over the years. The event was being branded with United’s logo for the anti-LGBT, anti-Semitic, and anti-white laced event called Saviour’s Day. The event is scheduled to be held February 17, 2019 at the United Center.
Tickets are on sale now for The Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day.
— United Center (@UnitedCenter) February 2, 2019
Who is Louis Farrakhan?
Many of you know who Louis Farrakhan is. Farrakhan is the leader of the National of Islam, a group known for its anti-white theology, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Additionally, there’s a storied past that raises significant issues with the rhetoric Farrakhan used in the past to describe the LGBT community, Jewish people, and white people. It is intriguing that United Airlines would associate itself with such a speaker at such an event. While they may have allowed them to use the venue, their logo on the ad (something that isn’t on many of the other ads they post to Twitter) seems to suggest their brand is in line with the event.
In His Own Words
Here’s just some of the quotes Louis Farrakhan has made concerning the Jewish and LGBT communities:
“The Jews, a small handful, control the movement of this great nation, like a radar controls the movement of a great ship in the waters … the Jews got a stranglehold on the Congress.” -This quote was from Saviour’s Day, 1990–
“And you do with me as is written, but remember that I have warned you that Allah will punish you. You are wicked deceivers of the American people. You have sucked their blood. You are not real Jews, those of you that are not real Jews. You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell.” -This was from Saviour’s Day, 1996–
“And the Christian right, with your blindness to that wicked state of Israel … can that be the holy land, and you have gay parades, and want to permit to have a gay parade in Jerusalem when no prophet ever sanctioned that behavior.” -This is from Saviour’s Day, 2006–
It doesn’t end there. At his Saviour’s Day speech in 2018, Farrakhan made a series of anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT remarks. He also criticized white people in the speech, saying, “White folks are going down.”
At 3:15, Farrakhan calls Jews ‘the mother and father of apartheid, the Jews.”https://t.co/WE5ys7It8R
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 28, 2018
At 2:59:00 Farrakhan approvingly cites Nixon and Graham attacking Jews’ “grip on the media” and Hollywood and “how the Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men.”
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 28, 2018
Last year in a speech, Louis Farrakhan compared Jewish people to termites. The remarks got national attention and sparked outrage on Twitter.
Comparing Jews to termites is anti-Semitic, wrong and dangerous. The responsive laughter makes my skin crawl. For everyone who rightly condemned President Trump’s rhetoric when he spoke about immigrants “infesting our country,” this rhetoric should be equally unacceptable to you: https://t.co/EvFp4ULugm
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) October 17, 2018
Does Louis Farrakhan Represent United Airlines’ Values?
It doesn’t exactly seem to match the values of United Airlines to have a homophobic anti-Semite’s face next to the United logo. United has a lot of explaining to do to its passengers in those communities who have heard Farrakhan’s hateful words. What’s worse is this comes at a time of a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, which surged 57 percent in 2017 according to a report done by the Anti-Defamation League.
Now, I’m not one who believes an event necessarily has to have the support of the venue where it’s being held. It is a standard practice that controversial speakers are invited to events on college campuses and other venues for educational purposes. But this event seems neither educational nor meant to foster a conversation. In fact, the event is historically just a day of bigotry and hatred espoused by the bigoted leader.
The event praises Louis Farrakhan, who is described as “honorable” in the ad. While the event is billed as honoring black history month, the event is far from honoring the historic movement that African Americans have made to improve our country. Instead, it represents disgraceful group of bigots who seek to unravel the diversity and advancements we’ve made in this country. Surely, that should be something United Airlines is willing to speak out about.
Response from United Airlines
I reached out to United Airlines for a comment before publishing this story. A spokesperson for United said, “We have an arrangement for the naming rights to the arena, and it doesn’t give us the power to control which people or organizations use the venue.”
While I appreciate them taking the time to respond, it’s troubling they didn’t elaborate further on this. I was hoping, and sort of expecting, the statement would include something saying Louis Farrakhan’s values do not match the values of United Airlines.
I think this response is even more troubling because their lack of control of the venue has nothing to do with their ability, as a company, to speak out against the words that have come out of Farrakhan’s mouth in past appearances and the words that will likely come out of his Saviour’s Day address this weekend.
It is disappointing that United Airlines, who claims its shared purpose is “Connecting people. Uniting the world.” would associate and use their logo alongside a man known for his hatred and bigotry. Surely, the gay community, white community, and Jewish community are valued members of the United Airlines family. United’s silence on this issue raises questions on their stance. I’d urge anybody to reach out to United and let them know how you feel.