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The Chicago Way
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August 29, 2008, 07:07 AM
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I moved to Chicago in 1982, not too long before Barack Obama did, but, unlike him, I can`t recall that I ever once thought of getting involved in Chicago politics. To me, wanting to be a Chicago politician would be like me wanting to be an Albanian politician, or me dreaming of opening a shop that buys and sells pre-owned hubcaps.

This is not at all to say that the spider`s web of Chicago political relationships is boring for the disinterested spectator.

For example, the Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Jabir Herbert Muhammad — son of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad and former manager of boxing great Muhammad Ali — died Monday afternoon at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center...

The longtime South Side resident managed Ali`s boxing career from 1966 till 1981 and continued to work for him after he left boxing, until 1991 — a relationship that led to legal battles between the two. Mr. Muhammad told the Sun-Times last year that he and Ali had settled their court disputes and remained friends. ...

Mr. Muhammad was an adviser to his father, who was the leader of the Nation of Islam until his death in 1975, and was the organization`s business manager. He also oversaw the Nation of Islam newspaper Muhammad Speaks ...

Mr. Muhammad had been in the news last year because of a lawsuit he filed against convicted political fund-raiser Tony Rezko to stay in his South Side mansion, a home built by the late Elijah Muhammad.

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times last year, Mr. Muhammad said Rezko had �embezzled� him out of ownership of the home, even though he and his wife never moved out. They sued Rezko and Dr. Paul Ray, who currently owns the house. The suit is pending.

Rezko is a former campaign fund-raiser for Sen. Barack Obama, Gov. Blagojevich and others and was convicted in federal court in June of wide-ranging corruption involving state deals. Rezko and Mr. Muhammad had been longtime friends and business partners before their falling-out. ...

His survivors include his wife, Amenah Antonia Muhammad; 14 children, Elijah Muhammad III, Isa Muhammad Ali, Safiyya Rahmah, Alif Muhammad, Mourad Muhammad, Gina Driskell, Omar Muhammad, Jabir Muhammad, Samirah Muhammad, Saeedah Hamahouallah, Salimah Zahid, Samiha Muhammad, Saniyyah Sepanik and Zarinah Muhammad; 45 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren.

Earlier, the Sun-Times reported:
The lawsuit comes about nine months after a Chicago Sun-Times story in which Muhammad first publicly claimed that Rezko "embezzled" him out of his mansion and seven other properties. At the time, Rezko called the allegation baseless and "extremely hurtful ... as I have given [Muhammad] and his family millions of dollars over the years."

The Muhammad suit involves only the mansion, in the 1100 block of East 49th Street. The Muhammads say Rezko persuaded them to put the home into a land trust when Jabir Muhammad was extremely ill in the 1990s. They say they had no idea Rezko intended to seize it from them.

Rezko`s lawyers have produced a real estate contract that shows the Muhammads sold the mansion and three adjacent lots to Rezko in 1993 for $519,000. Under their contract with Rezko, the Muhammads were to leave the house by Dec. 31, 1995, but they still live there.

I guess it must be hard to buy or sell a South Side mansion without getting Tony Rezko involved.

Obama got about $250,000 in campaign contributions from Rezko and his 100 or so relatives that Fat Tony has brought over from Syria, plus a deal on his own South Side mansion that I`m guessing was worth about $70,000. Yet, the Black Muslim family got "millions of dollars over the years" from Rezko? Michelle Obama must have been peeved when she learned that!

By the way, something that`s long bothered me is this. Obama wrote that the hero of his youth was Malcolm X. Now, Malcolm was assassinated in 1966 by Black Muslim hitmen working for Elijah Muhammad. The chief long term beneficiary of the murder was Louis Farrakhan, who earlier had written that Malcolm deserved death. Whether Farrakhan was directly involved in the killing is unknown—a number of years ago, one of Malcolm`s many daughters hired a hitman to rub out Farrakhan in revenge. Even if he wasn`t involved in the conspiracy, Farrakhan`s sentiments are clear: he gave Malcolm`s old job to one of the murderers when he was finally released from prison.

Yet, where`s the outrage against the Black Muslims on Obama`s part? If somebody important was tied into the murder of a hero of my youth, like Jerry West or Fernando Valenzuela, I sure wouldn`t treat him as evenhandedly, with a mixture of sympathy for his goals and sarcasm at the impracticality of his economics, as Obama treats Farrakhan in Dreams from My Father. Nor would I have chosen a minister who went with Farrakhan to visit Gadafi in Libya in 1984 and gave Farrakhan his Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Nor would I be happy about having a fairy godfather like Rezko who is up to his eyeballs in dealings with Elijah Muhammad`s heirs.

Is that just the Chicago Way: what`s a little murder of your hero among players like Obama, Rezko, Wright, Farrakhan, and the Muhammads compared to the political and financial benefits of scratching each other`s backs? Is Obama really that coldblooded? Or does he believe that Malcolm was murdered by the FBI? Or is there something else going on?