A failure to miscommunicate

We reported last week in “What’s so funny about peace, love and CAIR” that Fifth District Congressman Keith Ellison would be the keynote speaker at CAIR’s annual dinner this past Saturday. The following day, we noted the Star Tribune story by Rob Hotakainen and Brady Averill reporting that Ellison would not be keynoting the CAIR dinner:

Ellison said he was “really honored” to be in Washington. He said he would return to Minnesota this weekend and would not be the keynote speaker at the annual banquet for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that was a flashpoint in the fall campaign. His appearance had already been announced by CAIR, but Ellison said it was the result of a “natural, normal miscommunication.”

We sarcastically noted that “no one has gotten word to Ellison’s friends at CAIR yet — they’re still plugging him as their keynote speaker[.]” But Hotakainen and Averill were buying it. It’s a good thing the Star Tribune can devote two reporters to a story like this; that way you can check out the line that the guy you’re reporting on is feeding you rather than eating out of his hand. It’s a shame that Hotakainen and Averill failed to take advantage of the manpower on hand for the story. Today Ellison’s buddies at CAIR issued the following press release:

First Muslim Congressman Addresses CAIR Banquet
Sold-Out Event Raises More Than $620,000 for Civil Rights Work
WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire/ — More than 1,000 people turned out on Saturday at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) banquet in Arlington, Va., to hear addresses by several elected officials, including Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress.
The event raised more than $620,000 to support CAIR’s civil rights and advocacy work on behalf of the American Muslim community. (Another dinner held by CAIR’s Southern California chapter (CAIR-LA) over the weekend raised more than $430,000. Some 1,800 people attended that event.)
Elected officials who spoke at the sold-out event included Representative-elect Ellison (D-MN), as well as Reps. Mike Honda (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Albert Wynn (D-MD). Ellison and Jackson Lee offered their addresses by video. Saqib Ali, who was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates (District 39) on November 7, was also in attendance.
To view Keith Ellison’s address, go to: https://www.cair.com/videos/keith_ellison.wmv
To view Jackson Lee’s address, go to:
Other speakers included Special Agent in Charge Joseph Persichini, Jr. of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Fairfax County Police Chief Col. David M. Rohrer and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. Most members of CAIR’s national board also took part in the banquet, which was emceed by Julia Shearson of CAIR-Ohio’s Cleveland office.
Several Muslim community members received CAIR Islamic Community Service Awards during the dinner. The annual CAIR Rosa Parks Civil Liberties Scholarship went to Raashida Muhammad of Stillman College.
“We would like to thank all those who, through their hard work and generosity, made CAIR’s annual banquet such a success,” said CAIR Board Chairman Parvez Ahmed. “Special thanks go to all those who volunteered their time and talents to make the dinner possible.”
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices
and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the
understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties,
empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

I spoke with Rob Hotakainen this afternoon. He told me that in his view Ellison was straightforward with the Star Tribune last week in denying that he would be the keynote speaker at the CAIR dinner even though he in fact appeared by video. It should be noted that in the video, Ellison attributes his failure to appear at the dinner to a scheduling conflict, not to any “natural, normal miscommunication.” I’m sure the folks at the Star Tribune are buying that too. There’s a story here somewhere, but the folks at the Star Tribune apparently can’t be bothered with it.


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