Congressman Keith Ellison is speaking out amid scrutiny surrounding he and other Black Democrats’ ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
In a lengthy statement Sunday, Ellison defended his record of fighting hate and intolerance of all kinds before going on to condemn Farrakhan for his recent “disparaging” and divisive remarks aimed at the Jewish community. Several Black Democrats, including Ellison, faced recent criticisms over their past affiliations with the Muslim leader and have faced pressure to denounce his anti-Semitic rhetoric.
“I do not have and have never had a relationship with Mr. Farrakhan, but I have been in the same room as him,” Ellison wrote, adding he had a brief encounter with the minister nearly a decade ago, and then again in New York City where he attended a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. “I didn’t know Mr. Farrakhan would be there and did not speak to him at the event.”
“Contrary to recent reports, I have not been in any meeting with him since then, and he and I have no communication of any kind,” he added.
Ellison, who also serves as vice chair of the DNC, went on to accuse conservatives of trying to pit Blacks and the Jewish community against each other as part of a “smear” campaign.
“[A]s the attacks on me and my fellow Black representatives in Congress intensify, I want to be clear: this is a smear by factions on the right who want to pit the Jewish community and the Black community against each other, and distract from the hatred and bigotry on display by the president and the white supremacists who stormed Charlottesville, Va. this summer with their anti-Semitic chants and Confederate flags,” he continued.
Ellison tore into his detractors, saying they wouldn’t be satisfied any more than when “President Obama’s production of his birth documents satisfied his critics.”
“[T]hose who aim to make me guilty by false association have made themselves hard to ignore,” he concluded.