The Ellison deflection

The rise of Keith Ellison to his seat representing Minnesota’s Fifth District has been a national story since day one. Minneapolis’s Star Tribune has chosen to serve as Ellison’s handmaiden over the past 10 years. As Ellison’s humble servant, the Star Tribune has forsaken journalism and left the history of Ellison’s long involvement with the Nation of Islam right where Ellison wants it, on the cutting room floor.

That is one thread of my Weekly Standard column “The trouble with Keith Ellison,” on Ellison’s bid for election as chairman of the Democratic Party. Jeff Ballabon’s Tablet column covers some of the same ground from the perspective of Jewish supporters of Israel.

Ellison has felt compelled to respond. Allison Sherry reports from Washington on the Star Tribune’s Hot Dish Politics blog in the traditional Star Tribune style, regurgitating Ellison’s public relations statements and leaving it at that (links in original):

WASHINGTON — Rep. Keith Ellison said Tuesday he has a long record of fighting anti-Semitism and strongly condemns the Nation of Islam in light of several op-eds published this week that accuse the Minneapolis congressman of secretly supporting Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Ellison is running to chair the Democratic National Committee.

This week, op-eds in the Weekly Standard and Tablet, a Jewish news website, touted quiet ties Ellison had with the Nation of Islam — a black political movement dubbed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Ellison’s camp sent out a list of clarifications with the op-eds, saying Ellison has condemned the Nation of Islam and other groups that promote anti-Semitic statements. In 2003, Ellison helped prosecute Holocaust deniers in the state legislature, his spokesman said. Long-time Jewish activist Steve Rabinowitz penned an op-ed in the Jersusalem Post defending Ellison’s record.

“Keith forcefully rejects anti-Semitism and other forms of hate or discrimination – values that define the foundation of his public service and his vision for America,” an Ellison spokesman said.

His staff also points out Ellison was endorsed by Sen. Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate minority leader, and a strong supporter of Israel.

“I have long supported a two-state solution and a democratic and secure state for the Jewish people, with a democratic and viable Palestinian state side-by-side in peace and dignity,” Ellison said, in an emailed statement. “I don’t believe boycotting, divesting and sanctioning Israel helps us achieve that goal.”

How utterly pathetic.

The New York Times has Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman on the story. They go beyond handouts from Ellison:

Mr. Ellison’s past criticism of Mr. Obama and praise for Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader, worry some Democrats looking for a figure to lead the opposition to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Ellison, a Muslim, defended Mr. Farrakhan in the 1990s, saying he was “not an anti-Semite,” and has positioned himself on the left flank of congressional Democrats on Israel.

That quote from Ellison comes from Ellison’s Insight News column published under the name Keith X Ellison. In 2006 I posted a screenshot of the column in “Keith Ellison for dummies” and then earlier this week posted the relevant text of the column in “From the Ellison file (2).”

Martin and Haberman report this highly illuminating fact:

Aides to Mr. Ellison were going to make him available for a telephone interview, but then declined when informed that he would be asked about his past comments on Mr. Farrakhan.

I trust that those of you who have followed this story so far can draw the appropriate inferences on your own.


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