Working from public documents and my own interviews in 2006, I constructed a picture of Keith Ellison as a serious long-time advocate of the Nation of Islam. This is the picture I drew of Ellison in “Louis Farrakhan’s first congressman” and in the companion Power Line post “Keith Ellison for dummies” just before his election to Congress in 2006. Ellison’s past and his continuing deceptions about it have emerged anew as open issues in connection with his current bid to lead the Democratic Party.
Following Ellison, the Star Tribune portrayed Ellison’s involvement with the Nation of Islam as limited in time and extent. Explicating his May 2006 letter to the Jewish Community Relations Council, Ellison told the Star Tribune’s Rochelle Olson that he took up with the Nation of Islam for some 18 months around the time of the Million Man March in 1995. Olson occasionally regurgitated Ellison’s 18-month line as a fact and the Star Tribune’s Allison Sherry now cheerleads for Ellison in the same blinkered and misleading fashion.
Since 2006 Ellison has always claimed that he was unfamiliar with the Nation of Islams’s doctrines and teaching. He knew nothing about the organization. He didn’t hear what Farrakhan was saying. He wasn’t paying attention. When he dressed like Farrakhan and showed up at meetings with looming black men in suits, well, it was just for effect. He meant nothing by it.
This week the editor of the Nation of Islam’s publication The Final Call — one Richard Muhammad — denounced Ellison for his disloyalty to the Nation of Islam and the NoI’s great leader. Muhammad included a photograph of Ellison distributing The Final Call back in the day when Ellison was working particularly closely with the organization about which he knew nothing (the photo above, credited to Ed Morrissey’s old blog, depicts Ellison on campus at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis).
Drawing on his own experience with Ellison back in the day, Muhammad quotes Ellison’s 1995 defense of their hero Louis Farrakhan and comments:
That’s pretty powerful language and a powerful argument penned by one Keith X Ellison. Yes. That’s the same Rep. Keith Ellison who represents the Fifth Congressional District in Minnesota and seeks to chair the Democratic National Committee. He was also once known as Keith Ellison-Muhammad.
If Mr. Ellison once believed those things about the Minister and changed his mind, that’s his business. We will leave Allah (God) to judge and handle the hypocrites. But what cannot be tolerated are the lies, the slander and false narrative against Min. Farrakhan. These lies cannot be proven, nor can these false charges be sustained. The Minister has been a strong voice for Black self-determination, a warrior against Jewish paternalism and control of Black people and a sledge hammer against the wall of White supremacy and neo-colonialism. None of that work would make him the favorite of a system or wicked people whose demonic rule he is working to destroy.
But Mr. Ellison knows better. Years ago sitting in my Chicago office here at The Final Call, when I was managing editor, there was no question about Min. Farrakhan and who he was. There was no question when Mr. Ellison, aka Keith X Ellison, aka Keith Ellison-Muhammad, came to Chicago for an urban peace summit in October 1993 that featured Min. Farrakhan, or a vital summit in Kansas City that included Min. Farrakhan as the major speaker and one who helped legitimize the anti-violence movement in April 1993.
Brent Scher noted Muhammad’s editorial denunciation of Ellison yesterday at the Washington Free Beacon. Scher’s note concludes: “Ellison is yet to comment on The Final Call editorial. His office did not respond to an email from the Washington Free Beacon regarding the piece.” Brent, don’t hold your breath on that one.
I think my 2006 portrait of Ellison stands up better than Ellison’s apologetics.