"Keith Ellison, running in Minnesota, would be the first Muslim to serve in Congress. He has had to defend past associations with the Nation of Islam," notes the Washington Post caption to the photo above right. (David Joles, Minnesota Star Tribune) The lively debate surrounding the primary candidacy of this bluest of blue-state Democrats has been set in motion not by the local MSM but by a couple of A-class bloggers. "I lead my life in a way to not make religion a big deal," says the candidate. (alt.muslim photo left)
"How can you tell Bill Clinton is lying?" went the old saw. "His lips are moving," came the reply. It's the very definition of a slick politician. Now bloggers are asking the same question of U.S. Congressional primary candidate Keith Ellison, Minnesota's DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) Party's anti-war, pro-Hillarycare golden boy. From the Washington Post:
Jewish Democratic activists have rallied around Ellison. Samuel and Sylvia Kaplan, a Minneapolis couple who are influential fundraisers, said he reminds them of the late senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn).
But is Catholic-raised Muslim convert Ellison really the Wellstonian ultra-liberal he claims to be? Describing the candidate as "an intelligent and articulate lawyer," The Washington Times explains:
Although DFL endorsement is usually tantamount to nomination in this very liberal district, and DFL nomination is, in turn, tantamount to election, Mr. Ellison . . . was not vetted thoroughly. A number of controversies about his past quickly surfaced.
"Soon after Mr. Ellison won the endorsement of Minnesota Democrats at a party convention in early May, the blogs began drawing attention to the lawmaker's background, and in particular his affiliation with a black Muslim group that espouses anti-Semitic views, the Nation of Islam," reports The New York Sun:
"They've driven the discussion by their own research and analysis," a political science professor at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., Steven Schier, said. "That's been the real dynamic of the race."
The bulk of the trouble for Mr. Ellison, 43, has come from Minnesota Democrats Exposed, a blog run by a local Republican operative, and a national conservative blog, Power Line, which is best known for helping to bring down a CBS News anchor, Dan Rather . . .
Since the flap over his ties to the Nation of Islam, Mr. Ellison's record on Jewish issues has been spotty, local leaders said. He unequivocally condemned Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups, a position that few politically active members of the American Muslim community have been willing to take. However, he recently appeared at a Muslim-organized fund-raiser for his campaign at which a leader of the Council on American-Islamic Relations spoke. Many Jewish leaders view that group as apologists for terrorism.
On the one hand Ellison's smoothly articulated progressive politics and photogenic personal style make him the perfect candidate for the ultra-blue Fifth Congressional District. "Ellison doesn't emphasize his Muslim faith, but he doesn't shy away from it either," according to alt.muslim:
"It's good for people to see a reasonable, moderate face of Islam," said Ellison, who has worked with the local Muslim community to promote civic participation . . . [He] remains unfazed while he hits the campaign trail. "I just started studying [Islam] and found it interesting," said Ellison of his conversion many years ago. "I lead my life in a way to not make religion a big deal."
We were intrigued with the comments of OmarG at alt.muslim, responding to other commenters' concerns:
I'm not sure that his identity is based soley on [his] being Muslim. It's possible he sees his own identity as being American or Black American and that Islam is his religion, not necessarily his identity. That's why I don't believe Muslims should seek to become a political block like Jewish Americans have: its too narrow and even many American Jews refuse to take part in the identity politics that some members of their communities try to foster and good on them for it.
Do we hear a melting pot bubbling? Ellison has said that he "never shared Nation of Islam's anti-semitism and should have come to that conclusion earlier than I did." Some have taken him at his word, while others are not so sure. Then there's the matter of his association with and acceptance of campaign contributions from the controversial Council on American-Islam Relations, credibly dubbed by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs "the premier Islamist front group."
Conspiracy theorists worry about taqiya, described by Paul Sperry, author of Infiltration, as the "Muslim art of telling 'white lies; to defend the faith and further the cause of Allah, as instructed in the hadiths, the sacred supplements to the Quran." According to LGF reader jlfintx, presumably quoting from Sperry's book:
Lying about religion to avoid “persecution” (or the consequences of murdering innocent people is my translation) is accepted by Muslims and called taqiya.
The Arab media often uses taqiya to cast Islam in the best light and the west in the worst light, severely distorting facts in the process, admits the editor of the London based daily Al-Sharq Al-Aswat.
Richard Landes's Pallywood comes to mind, of course, but it reminds us of our own media as well. As Scott Johnson of Power Line, quoted in the New York Sun article said, "I think I've eaten their lunch on this story. They're so paralyzed by political correctness they've let us have a field day," he added, referring to the Minneapolis Star Tribune's dhimmitudinous failure to raise questions about Mr. Ellison's past. "That said" -- as they say -- we're thinking, based on all we've read from all sides, that Scott & Company may be overreacting regarding the likeliness of candidate Ellison's intention to turn our nation into a Sharia state. On the other hand, it's possible to read into the words of Ziad Amra, a Minneapolis businessman who was one of the coordinators of that fundraiser where Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Hamas supporter spoke.
"It's only one of 435 [House seats], but it would be a start. You have to start somewhere."
Islamists' patience is legendary. As a Hezbollah commander told a Guardian reporter recently, "Patience is our main virtue."
Update: "We came together, all colors, all faiths, all of us," a jubilant Ellison said, savoring his victory. John at Power Line is skeptical: "It remains to be seen whether even the heavily Democratic 5th wants to send a fringe candidate like Ellison to Congress. In the meantime, [Republican opponent Alan] Fine can use your support to get his message to the voters."
Interestingly, no one beyond Minnesota MSM and Minnesota bloggers took much interest. RINO Senator Lincoln Chaffee's victory in Rhode Island's primary -- with a record voter turnout -- led both local and national news broadcasts. As Jim Addison of Wizbang! noted yesterday, Chaffee opponent Cranston Mayor Steve "Laffey has the conservative credentials, but the GOP establishment is backing Chaffee as the only chance to hold the seat in 'dark blue' RI." Politics as usual.
Update II: Best quote of the day -- from Allah at Hot Air -- re hold-your-nose-and-vote Chaffee win: "My heart says Laffey but my brain says RINO."