By Tom Steward
The long-suppressed photo that recently surfaced of then Senator Barack Obama with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan may not have gotten the play it deserved in the press. But the renewed focus on top Democrats’ on-again, off-again relationship with the anti-Semitic Farrakhan has landed Democratic National Committee Deputy Chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) back in the spotlight, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In 2006, during his first run for Congress from Minnesota, Mr. Ellison conceded he had worked with the Nation of Islam for 18 months before the October 1995 Million Man March. In a letter, he assured Jewish groups: “I reject and condemn the anti-Semitic statements and actions of the Nation of Islam [and] Louis Farrakhan. ”
A decade later, during the DNC leadership contest, he accused Mr. Farrakhan and his organization of sowing “hatred and division, including, anti-Semitism, homophobia and a chauvinistic model of manhood. I disavowed them long ago, condemned their views, and apologized.”
Yet new information has surfaced that indicates “the DNC’s deputy chairman hasn’t told the full story.”
In September 2013, however, Messrs. Ellison and Farrakhan dined together. The occasion was a visit by Iran’s newly elected President Hassan Rouhani to the United Nations. Mr. Rouhani invited Muslim leaders from around the U.S. to dinner after addressing the U.N. General Assembly. Contemporaneous news reports placed Mr. Farrakhan at the dinner. Unreported by mainstream outlets was the presence of Mr. Ellison, along with Reps. Gregory Meeks of New York and Andre Carson of Indiana. (All three are Democrats; Messrs. Ellison and Carson are Muslim.)
The Nation of Islam website documents the event, noting that Mr. Rouhani “hosted the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Muslim leaders from different Islamic communities and members of the U.S. Congress at a private meeting . . . at the One UN Hotel in Manhattan Sept. 24, 2013 across the street from the UN headquarters.” The Final Call, a Nation of Islam publication, added that “ Keith Ellison of Minnesota . . . participated in the dialogue” after dinner and includes photos of Messrs. Farrakhan and Ellison at the tables. The Michigan-based Islamic House of Wisdom also reported on the meeting, with additional photos.
In fact, the Minnesota congressman dropped in on Minister Farrakhan at least once more after breaking bread together with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the U.N.
According to Mr. Farrakhan, the 2013 meeting was not the last time he and Mr. Ellison were together. After Mr. Ellison renewed his denunciation of Mr. Farrakhan in 2016, Mr. Farrakhan stated in an interview that Reps. Ellison and Carson had visited him in his Washington hotel suite the preceding summer.
Are there other meetings between Ellison and Farrakhan that haven’t been reported yet? Does the DNC approve of its deputy chair’s relationship with an individual he acknowleges spreads “hatred and division, including, anti-Semitism, homophobia and a chauvinistic model of manhood?”
Rep. Ellison owes his constituents and the DNC a complete explanation and transparency on the lingering questions about his connections to the divisive Louis Farrakhan that just won’t go away.