Keith Ellison is the DFL-endorsed Fifth District (essentially Minneapolis) congressional candidate. The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s lame coverage of the question “Who is Keith Ellison?” is therefore particularly disappointing. In “Who is Keith Ellison? (2)” I wrote about Rochelle Olson’s June 3 Star Tribune story on Ellison’s letter to the Jewish Community Relations Council regarding his ties to the Nation of Islam. In that post, based on easily available information in the public record, I demonstrated the falsity of Ellison’s description of the limited nature of his ties to the Nation of Islam.
Rather than the 18-month period of time in the mid-1990’s to which Ellison admits, Ellison’s ties to the Nation of Islam extended at least from his days as a third-year law student (1989-90) to the time of his first candidacy for public office in 1998 (a fact the Star Tribune has failed to report) and probably extended to the time of his February 2000 speech at the National Lawyers Guild fundraiser for Kathleen Soliah/Sara Jane Olson. (They also probably predate Ellison’s days as a third-year law student.) At the opening of his speech, Ellison says:
Good evening, thanks for inviting me. Let me say that I think there’s an idea that young people are not attuned to the 60’s. And, that the 60’s and 70’s are ancient history. That they’ve passed and they?re gone. I want to submit to you that I can’t accept that as reality. I want to submit to you that the 90’s and 80’s are nothing but part 2 of the 60’s and the 70’s. And, I suggest that to you because of the few things that we can observe.
Don’t you remember Quibilah [sic] Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, was prosecuted in retribution against Minister Farrakhan – this game that was played out? Jijaga Pratt recently released. Ruben Carter recently released. Mumia Abu Jamal. For the people who want to incarcerate Sara Jane Olson, ain’t nothing changed.
Ellison’s reference to Qubilah Shabazz warrants elucidation for the light it sheds on his continuing regurgitation of the Nation of Islam party line as of February 2000.
At the end of 1994, FBI agents came to the office of the United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota with information regarding a murder-for-hire scheme. The information came from an FBI informant who, coincidentally, had been the high school classmate of Qubilah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X. Malcolm X had been murdered by reputed agents of the Nation of Islam in February 1965 after his apostasy from the NoI and his revelation of Elijah Mohammed’s scandalous behavior. “Such a man is worthy of death,” Louis Farrakhan had written two months before the assassination. Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X’s wife, thought that Farrakhan had some direct involvement in the assassination, though Farrakhan has denied it.
Qubilah Shabazz also believed that Farrakhan bore responsibility for her father’s murder. In early 1994 FBI agents advised the United States Attorney’s office that Shabazz had sought to hire the FBI informant to murder Farrakhan. Living in Minneapolis, Shabazz was ultimately taped offering the informant money to murder Farrakhan. Shabazz signed a confession to seeking Farrakhan’s assassination and the United States Attorney’s office procured an indictment against her in January 1995.
Shabazz’s indictment triggered a circus of radical clowns performing in Minneapolis. William Kunstler was imported from New York to represent Shabazz, wildly accusing the FBI of persecuting Shabazz. Keith Ellison joined the festivities on behalf of the Nation of Islam.
Elllison was not just affiliated with the Nation of Islam, he played the role of leader of the Nation of Islam in Minneapolis. He identified himself as representing the Nation of Islam and was the local spokesman for Farrakhan. In connection with his work for the Nation of Islam, Ellison organized a march on the United States Attorney’s office in Minneapolis, demanding that Shabazz be released and alleging that the FBI was itself guilty of conspiring to kill Farrakhan.
In May 1995 Shabazz reached a pretrial diversion agreement with the United States Attorney’s office. The agreement resulted in dismissal of the charges against her, but acknowledging the voluntariness of the confession on which her indictment had been based.
In his February 2000 speech at the National Lawyers Guild fundraiser, it is the Nation of Islam party line that Ellison is spouting when he asks the otherwise incomprehensible question: “Don’t you remember Qubilah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, was prosecuted in retribution against Minister Farrakhan – this game that was played out?” Today in Minneapolis, the game continues to be played out. It is Ellison who is playing the game out, however, and hoping that his audience forgets.