State Rep. Keith Ellison, the DFL endorsee in the Fifth Congressional District race, has sent a letter to the Jewish Community Relations Council in an attempt to quell concerns about his connections to a group viewed by many as anti-Semitic.
Ellison said that when he had ties to the Nation of Islam for about 18 months in the mid-1990s he failed to scrutinize the positions of the group and its leader, Louis Farrakhan, and "wrongly dismissed concerns that they were anti-Semitic. I should have come to that conclusion [that they were anti-Semitic] earlier than I did. I regret that I didn't."
Ellison, who could become the first Muslim elected to Congress, noted that there has been "much speculation" about his ties to Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, an organization that is aimed at improving conditions for black people but has been criticized as being antiwhite, antigay and anti-Semitic.
Ellison wrote that he saw "in the Nation of Islam, and specifically the Million Man March [in 1995], an effort to promote African-American self-sufficiency, personal responsibility, and community economic development." His relationship to Farrakhan has been raised mostly on blogs and in political scuttlebutt.
He said in an interview Friday that he wrote the letter, dated May 28, to the Community Relations Council to "reassure allies and friends of my long-term support for civil and human rights."
As Pam Spaulding, a liberal blogger who blogs alot on gay issues says:
Why does anyone take this man seriously, other than as a hate monger? He's no better than Don Wildmon, Dobson, or the rest of those clowns, yet too many black politicians give Louis Farrakhan legitimacy that he doesn't deserve in the slightest. . . .
You'll recall that Farrakhan was voted BET's 2005 Person of the Year, which his NOI folks crowed about. He's part of the reason it was necessary to have a conference on homophobia in the black community.
If this anti-Semitic homophobe can be held up as a model of what the best the black community has to offer in terms of leadership, it's a sad state of affairs indeed.
Farrakhan chose as his head co-organizer of the Millions More March, the esteemed Rev. Willie "Lesbians are taking over" Wilson, who was responsible for banning National Black Justice Coalition's Keith Boykin from the stage at the event. That says it all, doesn't it?
I don't understand why Keith Ellison didn't address this issue head on earlier in the campaign. He knew this was going to be an issue. Farrakhan was raised during his first successful campaign for state legislature 4 years ago. At that time, I supported Keith's opponent Duane Reed.