Helping Dave Orrick get Ellison straight

I tweeted my post on Dave Orrick’s St. Paul Pioneer Press story “A lot of cops don’t like Keith Ellison. How’s that going to work when he’s attorney general?” Citing my August 15 Weekly Standard column “Can Keith Ellison turn lawman?,” I criticized Orrick’s Pioneer Press story as being late and pathetic.

Orrick responded with a tweet citing his November 1 Pioneer Press article “Keith Ellison, Louis Farrakhan, and ‘cop killers’: Smear campaign or fair game?” According to Orrick’s tweet, he had written “about all this during the campaign.”

I was aware of Orrick’s November 1 article when I asserted that his current story was late and pathetic. His current story is indeed late and pathetic. Although Orrick’s November 1 story was better on Ellison’s history with law enforcement than is his current story, that history is seen as in a glass darkly. Arriving five days before the election, the story was late and lame.

On Ellison’s history with Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, Orrick’s November 1 story was a joke. Orrick does not understand that Ellison was a self-avowed member of the hate cult or that he followed its doctrines — including anti-Semitism — as an active local leader. Orrick is proudly ignorant of Ellison’s persistent lies on this subject over the past 12 years.

Instead, Orrick cited the support of Ellison’s local Jewish supporters. Ellison certainly has local Jewish supporters; they are devout Democrats. They cannot wish away Ellison’s past work with Farrakhan or his active membership in the hate cult. Their support of Ellison is a painful variant of an old phenomenon.

The quality of Orrick’s work on Ellison this year is a notch above that of the Star Tribune. The Star Tribune adheres to the adage that silence is golden. The quality of Orrick’s work is nevertheless poor. Dave, I hereby offer you a personal look at my file on Keith Ellison. You can reach me on Twitter or at [email protected]

In the alternative, you can consult Tim Murphy’s 2017 Mother Jones story “Keith Ellison Is Everything Republicans Thought Obama Was. Maybe He’s Just What Democrats Need.” Writing from the left as a fan of Ellison, Murphy nevertheless gets the story straight. For example:

Ellison has said that he was never a member of the Nation of Islam and that his working relationship with the organization’s Twin Cities study group (the national organization’s term for its chapters) lasted just 18 months. He has said that he was “an angry young black man” who thought he might have found an ally in the cause of economic and political empowerment, and that he overlooked Farrakhan’s most incendiary statements because “when you’re African American, there’s literally no leader who is not beat up by the press.” In his book, Ellison outlines deep theological differences between the group and his mainstream Muslim faith. But his break from Farrakhan was not quite as clean as he portrayed it. Under the byline Keith X Ellison, months after the march that he described as an epiphany, he penned an op-ed in the Twin Cities black weekly Insight News, pushing back against charges of anti-Semitism directed at Farrakhan. In 1997, nearly two years later, he endorsed a statement again defending Farrakhan. When Ellison ran (unsuccessfully) for state representative in 1998, Insight News described him as affiliated with the Nation of Islam. Two organizers who worked with him at the time told me they believed Ellison had been a member of the Nation. At community meetings, he was even known to show up in a bow tie, accompanied by dark-suited members of the Fruit of Islam, the Nation’s security wing.

Minister James Muhammad, who in the 1990s led the Nation of Islam’s Twin Cities study group, confirms that Ellison served for several years as the local group’s chief of protocol, acting as a liaison between Muhammad and members of the community. He was a “trusted member of our inner circle,” says Muhammad, who is no longer active in the Nation of Islam. Ellison regularly attended meetings and sometimes spoke in Muhammad’s stead, when the leader was absent. An Ellison spokesman declined to answer questions about the congressman’s role in the study group and instead replied in an email, “Right wing and anti-Muslim extremists have been trying to smear Keith and distort his record for more than a decade. He’s written extensively about his work on the Million Man March, and has a long history of standing up against those who sow division and hatred.”

It was only in 2006, as his run for Congress floundered, that Ellison repudiated Farrakhan….

Compare this history (as I also had it in my 2006 Weekly Standard article) with Ellison’s 2006 letter to the Jewish Community Relations Council, accessible in the Power Line post “Keith Ellison for dummies.” Ellison’s 2006 letter to the JCRC is the cornerstone of his congressional career and it is a tissue of lies. It tells you (Dave) just about everything you need to know about Ellison if only you would take the trouble to figure it out.

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