Ellison’s Excuse Brigade: Exposed and At Work

In tomorrow’s Star Tribune, our friend Katherine Kersten pierces the fog of lies and misrepresentations on which DFL Fifth District congressional candidate Keith Ellison has staked his campaign: “The excuses keep on coming for Ellison’s behavior.” Kersten exposes the phalanx of left-wing activists and media enablers — foremost among them Kersten’s colleagues at the Star Tribune — that has kept the basic facts about Ellison’s background from seeing the light of day. Kersten dubs Ellison’s protectors “Keith Ellison’s Excuse Brigade.” Here Kersten gets to the heart of the matter:

[I]t’s Ellison’s history of support for Louis Farrakhan — and the notoriously anti-white, anti-Semitic Nation of Islam — that has set the Excuse Brigade scrambling. Ellison says that his association with the Nation of Islam was limited to 18 months in the mid-1990s — a claim that the Brigade has repeated.

He also says that he failed to scrutinize Farrakhan’s positions sufficiently. Today, Ellison proclaims brotherly love, and all is forgiven.

But facts are stubborn things.

Ellison’s support for Farrakhan dates from at least 1989, when he wrote an article defending “Minister Farrakhan” for the Minnesota Daily. In 1995, he was a Minnesota organizer for the Million Man March, which the Nation of Islam convened. In 1997, Ellison publicly supported the executive director of the Minneapolis Initiative Against Racism when she allegedly called Jews “among the most racist white people.” The Star Tribune described Ellison as a “representative” of the Nation of Islam in an article about the incident. In 1998, when Ellison made his first run for the Minnesota House of Representatives, the paper described him as “well-known in the black community as … a supporter of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.”

The Excuse Brigade has sought to counter these inconvenient facts by falling back on the nuclear option — the B word. Folks who draw attention to Ellison’s support for Farrakhan are bigots, they say. Case closed.

So far, the Excuse Brigade has said little about the latest Ellison revelation. A few weeks ago, Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, appeared at an Ellison fundraiser, and he and at least one other CAIR employee have donated to Ellison’s campaign. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) described CAIR as an organization “which we know has ties to terrorism.”

Mike Erlandson, an Ellison opponent in the primary election, criticized Ellison for appearing with Awad, whom Erlandson described as a supporter of the Palestinian group Hamas.

Why is the Excuse Brigade pouring so much energy into Ellison’s defense? Any other candidate with half this record would likely be persona non grata in any political party.

The truth is plain, if unpalatable. Many are willing to overlook Ellison’s record because they are breathless with excitement at the chance to send the first Muslim — and the first black Minnesotan — to Congress.

Ellison’s candidacy may be a defining moment for the DFL. Is this the new face of the party of Hubert Humphrey? Heavy hitters such as Walter Mondale and Mayor R.T. Rybak have endorsed Ellison, and DFL fundraisers extraordinaire Sam and Sylvia Kaplan have raised big bucks for him.

The question of the hour is this: Is Ellison’s DFL also the party of Amy Klobuchar and Mike Hatch? We have six weeks to find out.

Coincidentally, the Keith Ellison Excuse Brigade is hard at work in today’s Star Tribune story by Sharon Schmickle on the appearance by Awad as a featured guest at the Ellison fundraiser that we first reported here on August 25. The Star Tribune is a month late with the story, but Schmickle nevertheless convenes an emergency meeting of the Excuse Brigade to chime in on Ellison’s behalf. Schmickle must have sent out her call for the Excuse Brigade when it turned out that this was the best Ellison could do on his own behalf:

“The Republicans are in a tough situation,” Ellison said. “Iraq is a failed policy.”

Ellison added, “They haven’t done much for homeland security. We still have a health care crisis. The Earth is warming up, and they’re not doing anything about it. What are they going to do? They have to try to engage in smear politics.”

Schmickle is of course a key member of the Excuse Brigade herself, as can be seen in this passage:

In March 1994, Awad said at Barry University in Florida, “I am in support of the Hamas movement more than the PLO,” a reference to the Palestine Liberation Organization, which was widely seen as corrupt [though not by the Star Tribune, which was a fan of Yasser Arafat]. Awad went on to say that Hamas and other Islamic movements were gaining popularity in the Middle East in part because they “respond to the daily needs of the people.” He added, “There are radicals in every movement and every sect, but we have to look at the moderate side.”

The statement came before Hamas had set off its first car bomb in Israel and more than a year before the United States designated it as a terrorist organization. Since then, CAIR has issued dozens of statements condemning terrorism.

Schmickle never does get around to explaining that by its charter Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, or that Awad’s preference for Hamas over the PLO came in the context of Hamas’s rejection of the Oslo Accords. Readers are left to fend for themselves as to the meaning of the difference between the “moderate” and “extreme” sides of a group dedicated to terror in the name of Islam, or how this alleged difference is germane to Awad’s support for Hamas.

Schmickle attempts to explain away Awad’s 1994 support for Hamas by referring to it as having occurred “before Hamas had set off its first car bomb in Israel[.]” Schmickle is engaged in serious disinformation on behalf of Ellison and his friends. Hamas initiated its campaign of violence against Israeli civilian and military targets in 1989. For Schmickle to imply otherwise is inexplicable.

Moreover, CAIR’s quoted opposition to “terrorism” is perfectly meaningless. Awad and CAIR appear to subscribe to the view that Hamas and other such groups are not engaged in “terrorism.” Which is why, when Mike Wallace asked Awad in 1994 if he supported the “military undertakings of Hamas,” Awad answered: “The United Nations Charter grants people who are under occupation [the right] to defend themselves against illegal occupation.”

Kersten’s column — appearing in the major organ of Keith Ellison’s Excuse Brigade — is a signal contribution to the debate over Ellison’s fitness for the high office he seeks.

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