Malcolm X was a man that fiercely advocated for human rights of the African Americans who were badly segregated in the south of the USA and badly discriminated against in the North.
In 1964, after his iconic hajj pilgrim, he visited Beirut to give a speech in AUB. He took a walk in the streets of Beirut from the Palm Beach Hotel. In the streets, his “attention was struck by the mannerisms and attire of the Lebanese women.”
He then compares the Arabian Women of Saudi Arabia (he had just made his pilgrim) to the Lebanese woman.
“In the Holy Land, there had been the very modest, very feminine Arabian women-and there was this sudden contrast of the half-French, half-Arab Lebanese women who projected in their dress and street manners more liberty, more boldness. I saw clearly the obvious European influence upon the Lebanese culture.”
In the 60’s, the French mandate influence was still strong, the French language, I believe, must have been spoken much more than today. Malcolm X is right, Lebanon culture has clearly an European influence. His views were though restrained because he had only visited Beirut. The capital must have had much more European influence than all the other provinces of Lebanon.
He then continues with thoughts on moral strength.
“It showed me how any country’s moral strength, or its moral weakness, is quickly measurable by the street attire and attitude of its women-especially its oung women. Wherever the spiritual values have been submerged, if not destroyed, by an emphasis upon the material things, invariably, the women reflect it.” He then makes an analogy with America’s women. ” Witness the women, both young and old, in America-where scarily any moral values are left. There seems in most countries to be either one extreme or the other. Truly a paradise could exist wherever material progress and spiritual values could be properly balanced.”
Malcolm X might have judged fast Lebanon’s moral strength by only its women. These are his thoughts, and one can even argue with Malcolm X, a great man. He was certainly right about “the boldness” of the Lebanese women of Beirut compared to other Arab countries. I’m a bit disappointed about how he remembered Beirut, (but that’s just because I’m Lebanese.)
Though how he remembered AUB comforted me.
He recalled very well his speech at AUB for two reasons. First, he heard later “with astonishment” that the American press accused his speech of causing a riot in Beirut.
“What kind of a riot” he asked rhetorically, “I don’t know how any reporter, in good conscience, could have cabled that across the ocean. The Beirut Daily Star front-page report of my speech mentioned no “riot”-because there was none.” (Thank you the Daily Star for truthful reporting).
The second reason is that he was touched by the reactions of students of African heritage. “When I was done, the African students all but besieged me for autographs; some of them even hugged me. Never have even American Negro audiences accepted me as I have been accepted time and again by the less inhibited, more down-to-earth Africans. ”
Malcolm X was murdered in 1965 by three members of the Nation of Islam, his old religious movement. He was excommunicated from it.