The New York Times quoted us in an article about Netflix originally planning to stream a documentary by notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. On Monday Netflix announced that the film will not be released through its platform, and blamed “internal miscommunication.”
Netflix will not release a documentary celebrating the musical career of Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam who is notorious for his history of anti-Semitic comments.
It appeared that “The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan: My Life’s Journey Through Music,” would be available for streaming on Netflix on Aug. 1, according to a now-deleted Monday Twitter announcement from Mr. Farrakhan’s account. It read: “On August 1st, watch the premiere of my music documentary ‘My Life’s Journey Through Music’ on @netflix.” The documentary also appeared on lists of coming programming for Netflix Britain. It did not appear on Netflix lists distributed in the United States, Australia or Canada.
The film was not actually supposed to be scheduled, but, because of an “internal miscommunication,” appeared to be on various platforms, a spokesperson for Netflix said in an email. The Netflix spokesperson would not provide further details on Netflix’s relationship with the film.
Mr. Farrakhan and representatives for the Nation of Islam did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In light of Mr. Farrakhan’s announcement, a number of Jewish organizations and people spoke out in media outlets and on Twitter, or said they reached out to Netflix directly. Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, said he immediately called up the Netflix chief executive, Ted Sarandos, who told him that a “glitch” had occurred, and the movie would not be released.
Rabbi Hier said it would be terrible to give Mr. Farrakhan “legitimacy” on such a national level by streaming this documentary.
“Documentaries should always be screened,” Rabbi Hier said. “But not by bigots and haters.”
The biographical documentary, made in 2014 and originally titled “Let’s Change the World,” according to The Final Call, the Nation of Islam’s newspaper, tells the story of Mr. Farrakhan’s foray into playing violin. A trailer for the documentary posted on Facebook shows scenes from the movie that try to reframe criticism of Mr. Farrakhan, labeling him as “misunderstood.”
Mr. Farrakhan has been watched by many since his ascent to his post as the leader of the Nation of Islam — a black nationalist political and religious movement — in the 1970s. He has been branded by the Anti-Defamation League as “virtually synonymous with anti-Semitism.” In February, he gave a speech at a Nation of Islam convention, where, among other subversive statements, he said Jews were “responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men.”
In June, he lost his Twitter verification for posting a video in which he called Jews “satanic.”
Supporters of Mr. Farrakhan expressed dismay in multiple Facebook posts at Netflix’s decision to cut his documentary, but to stream another one, “KKK: The Fight for White Supremacy,” which features members of the Ku Klux Klan speaking about their white supremacist ideology.
Organizations including B’nai B’rith International (the oldest Jewish service organization in the world) and the World Jewish Congress (which represents various Jewish organizations in 100 countries around the world) expressed concern with the announcement of “The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan: My Life’s Journey Through Music,” and praised Netflix’s decision to cut it.
Gary P. Saltzman, president of B’nai B’rith International, and Daniel S. Mariaschin, the organization’s chief executive, said in an email statement that they were “incredulous” when it appeared that a positive film about Mr. Farrakhan would stream on “such a tremendous platform.”
“Broadcast and streaming platforms such as Netflix are under no obligation to carry a particular program,” their statement said. “They make choices every day on what to run and not run. Not running this promotion is the right decision.”
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