Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke out against Donald Trump’s plans to restrict immigration by praising a slain Muslim immigrant U.S. Army officer at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday.
“Hello everyone, I’m Michael Jordan and I’m here with Hillary,” Abdul-Jabbar quipped in Philadelphia. “I said that because I know Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”
The six-time NBA champion introduced a film about Captain Humayun Khan, an immigrant from the United Arab Emirates who died in combat in Iraq, one of 14 such fatalities from Muslims in the American armed forces, the former UCLA standout says, since 9/11. Khan’s parents also took the podium to discredit Donald Trump and speak of their son’s sacrifice for his country.
Abdul-Jabbar noted that Khan visited the Jefferson Memorial immediately upon coming to America.
“Donald Trump’s idea to register Muslims and prevent them from entering our country is the very tyranny [Thomas] Jefferson abhorred,” the six-time NBA MVP opined. “In 1777, Jefferson drafted the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, which later became a model for the First Amendment. Today’s so-called religious freedom acts, like the one signed by Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, they are the opposite of what Jefferson wanted because they allow discrimination.”
Abdul-Jabbar knows something about following a tyrant.
The seven-foot-two center converted to Islam in New York City during summer vacation from UCLA in 1968, eventually taking a name that means “noble servant of the powerful one.” The powerful one the former Lew Alcindor followed went by the name Hamaas Abdul-Khaalis, a Nation of Islam heretic who took of the basketball player’s wealth and controlled his life. “So profound was Abdul-Jabbar’s faith in Khaalis’s infallibility,” author David Evanzz notes, “that he married a woman his teacher suggested instead of the woman he loved.”
Khaalis’s letters mocking Elijah Muhammad prompted an armed invasion in 1973 of the home his basketball-star follower purchased for his use in Washington, D.C. Nation of Islam goons killed seven people, including several children of the schismatic leader and a grandchild a few days old, in Kareem’s house. When an accomplice asked the murderer why he killed the small children, he answered: “Because the seed of the hypocrite is in them.”
Four years later, and after Abdul-Jabbar escaped from his guru’s grip, the aggrieved cleric kidnapped 149 people by organizing three assaults on buildings in Washington, D.C., that led to two deaths and the wounding of future mayor Marion Barry. Khaalis justified taking hostages at the headquarters of B’nai B’rith by insisting, “The Jews control the courts and the press.”
In his speech, the Hall of Famer decried the irrational “fear” that inspires the Republican presidential candidate to seek to curtail the addition of more of Abdul-Jabbar’s coreligionists from entering the United States.