“All members while making public speech must not use any assertion against the American flag or speak radical against the church or any member of any organized group, because we are to teach Love, Truth, Peace, Freedom and Justice.”
~ Act 4 of the Additional By-Laws for the Moorish Science Temple of America
This article is written in response to the recent news reports surrounding Gavin Eugene Long – the man who gunned down three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 17th of this year. Several news outlets have attempted to make a connection between Long and the Moorish Science Temple of America.
During one particular show, Good Morning America, there was a news report which claimed that “federal authorities” were looking into possible ties between Gavin Long and the Moorish Science Temple of America, which the reporter stated “does not recognize U.S. government authority over the descendants of slaves”. This story also appeared in Yahoo News, which described the MSTA as “an anti-government group that Long apparently showed support for online”.
It should made clear that these accusations are totally false and defamatory. To prove that this is the case, let’s examine the facts of the matter.
First of all, it is known that after Gavin Long was taken down by police, they found in his possession a membership card for a branch of a group known by many as the Washitaw Nation. Long is originally from Kansas City, Missouri and it was reported by their local news that he filed documents in which he declared association with that group. It should also be made known that the current leader of the official Washitaw Nation stated that Gavin Long is not associated with their official society but rather some knock-off group using the name of Washitaw. While members of the Washitaw Nation do identify themselves as Moors (they spell it Mu’ur ), it is not affiliated with the MSTA in any official capacity whatsoever.
The Moorish Science Temple of America is NOT an anti-government group. The Moorish Science Temple of America is a religious corporation, which is lawfully chartered and incorporated under the Religious Corporation Act of Illinois. This organization was founded in 1913 and is recognized by the government of this country. In fact, federal courts have recognized that Moorish Science and the MSTA is “a bona fide religion.” Johnson-Bey v. Lane, 863 F.2d 1308, 1309 (7th Cir. 1988). So, the notion that “federal authorities” have classified the MSTA as some anti-government group is absolutely preposterous.
Furthermore, before the actual shooting in Baton Rouge, Gavin Long himself put out a video stating that he no longer was affiliated with any group. At no time was there found any evidence of Long being a member of any Moorish Science Temple or any Moorish American study group. There’s not even any proof that he visited a temple anywhere.
With the abundance of evidence disproving the claims made in these recent news reports, it is clear that these news outlets are guilty of libel and slander. The fundamental difference between libel and slander rests solely in the manner in which the defamation is delivered. If the defamation is published in a fleeting manner (e.g. spoken words, sounds, gestures, etc.), then it is slander. Libel is defamation by written words, pictures, or in any form outside of spoken words or gestures. Defamation is the issuing of an erroneous statement, which damages the reputation of a person, business, group, government, religion, and/or nation.
This is why it is important for Moorish Americans to exercise the power of the media. Honors to Bro. Azeem Hopkins-Bey for holding a press conference to address the recent accusations. Honors to Bro. Tarhaka Bey for the Moorish World YouTube channel. Honors to Bro. Cozmo El for the Moorish National Newspaper. They are following the steps of the founder of the MSTA – Prophet Noble Drew Ali – who also founded the first Moorish American newspaper called “The Moorish Guide”. I would like to end this piece with the Founder’s words pertaining to the power of the press:
‘The Moorish Guide’ enters the field of journalism with “Malice to none and charity to all”. It is not our purpose to disregard the work of other splendid journals; it is not our purpose to fail to give due attention and space to all American citizens, individuals and organizations alike, who are working in their chosen fields of endeavor for the progress and development of all American citizens and all American Institutions. We hope to cooperate with them in the intensive and grueling battle for universal justice. ‘The Moorish Guide’ feels that ‘the greatest weapon’ in the hands of our group today in America is our press. The truth will never be told about a disadvantaged minority by the general press of any country, whether that minority be racial, political or religious. Unless we express ourselves through papers of our own the truth about us will not be told. Many of the beautiful things, many of the hopeful things and events which mark the progress of our group, will go unrecorded were it not for papers of our own. Our papers are our only hope of shoveling ourselves out from under the avalanche of lies that are annually let loose upon us. “A strong free press is the best possible safeguard of the liberties in general promotion and defense of the interests of strong, free people.”