Speed Reads

skeletons in the closet

Rep. Keith Ellison, frontrunner for DNC chair, is still being plagued by his past associations with anti-Semitism

Ten years after he renounced his ties to the Nation of Islam, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is still grappling with the implications of his past involvement with the African-American political movement. Since Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, announced his plan to run for chair of the Democratic National Committee, he has been confronted once again with columns he wrote and statements he made in the 1990s.

On Thursday, a CNN KFile review unearthed Ellison's "decade-long involvement in the Nation of Islam and his repeated defense of ... radical black leaders against accusations of anti-Semitism." CNN did note that no evidence was found that suggested Ellison made "any anti-Semitic comments himself," though he has admitted he was "slow to judge those who did."

In a 1995 op-ed, Ellison called Louis Farrakhan, the controversial leader of the Nation of Islam, a "role model for black youth" and maintained — contrary to evidence otherwise — that Farrakhan was "not an anti-Semite." CNN also reported that as recently as 2000, Ellison "appeared at a fundraiser ... for domestic terrorist Sara Jane Olson," a member of the group that kidnapped heiress Patricia Hearst and who was connected to a killing and the bombing of two police cars.

While discussing U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East in 2010, Ellison questioned whether it was logical or "right" that American policy "is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people," referring to Israel. A statement released Thursday by the Anti-Defamation League called these remarks "both deeply disturbing and disqualifying." "His words raise the specter of age-old stereotypes about Jewish control of our government, a poisonous myth that may persist in parts of the world where intolerance thrives, but that has no place in open societies like the U.S.," the ADL's statement reads. You can read the full statement below. Becca Stanek