In which Keith Ellison finds me of use

Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison has blocked me on Twitter, so I am unable to follow him. Searching Twitter to take a look at his emissions, however, I found that Star Tribune political reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger has posted an Ellison fundraising letter that she received in which Ellison draws on my Star Tribune op-ed column “Rep. Keith Ellison remembers to forget.” Ellison’s letter responds to these two paragraphs of my column summarizing, and quoting from, his book:

Ellison relates that he turned to Islam at age 19 as an undergraduate student at Wayne State University in Detroit. Those who wonder how Ellison reconciles his Muslim faith with the social liberalism of the Democratic Party platform, however, will not find much in the way of illumination here.

“If I were Jewish,” Ellison explains, “I would probably be a Reform Jew. If I were Christian, I would be one of those come-as-you-are nondenominational Christians. … Faith is not about expressing what I believe so that the world can see I’m faithful. I don’t believe in following a strict set of rules to prove my love for God or to prove my faith.” According to Ellison, “In Islam, your religion is what you make of it.” He doesn’t identify any sect that comports with his version of Islam.

Ellison purports to take issue with what I wrote, but he doesn’t really bother to respond or identify what I got wrong. In his memoir, which I explore in greater detail in the article “The Ellison elision,” Ellison actually describes the mystification of fellow Muslims with his social liberalism: “I get Muslims who come up to me and ask, ‘Brother Keith, how can you be in favor of gay marriage?’ ” Brother Keith explains: “I’m in favor of civil rights for all. I’m in favor of freedom.” As I say in the Weekly Standard article, Ellison seems to belong to the Ellison branch of Islam.

Ellison has never responded to my articles about him in the Weekly Standard and I don’t believe he has responded directly to my Star Tribune column. Nevertheless, Ellison has found my Star Tribune column of use in a letter to supporters. I thought some readers might find it of interest; this is how he rolls.

Responses