Past ties make Ellison the worst possible choice for DNC chairman
© Getty Images

The Democrats lost the Electoral College, both houses of Congress and many local elections, not because they lost the votes of radical leftists but because they lost their traditional base among white, working families, particularly in the “rust belt.”

So why are they considering the radical leftist Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonProgressives ramp up fight against Facebook Judge threatens to put prison officials in same uncooled cells as inmates Minnesota students file federal lawsuit against school district alleging 'deliberate indifference' to racist incidents MORE as the new head of the Democratic National Committee? It is difficult to imagine a worse choice.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ellison will always be known — and for good reason — as the youthful supporter of, and advocate for, Louis Farrakhan and other radical anti-white, anti-American and anti-Semitic bigots such as Stokely Carmichael

At the time Ellison was working with the Nation of Islam, its leader, Farrakhan, was regularly espousing the most hateful bigotry against the “white race,” against America and against the “gutter religion” of Judaism and its “synagogue of Satan.

Ellison had to know what Farrakhan was saying: everyone else did. Yet Ellison publicly defended this bigot, writing that Farrakhan “is not an anti- Semite,” but rather “a role model for black youth.” Ellison then subtly went after what Farrakhan repeatedly described as the Jewish controlled media.

Ellison argued that the accusation of anti-Semitism was the result of “relentless negative propaganda disguised to defame Afro-Americans.” He went on to cast blame on the media, controlled by you-know-who: “Black people have no history of using the media, the movie industry or any other propaganda sources, to collectively defame White America. Any student of the media, however, knows all about how the White media has called our very humanity into question.” 

As a law student at the University of Minnesota, Ellison defended a speech by Stokely Carmichael, in which Carmichael claimed, “Zionists joined with the Nazis in murdering Jews so they would flee to Palestine.” 

Ellison condemned the university president for criticizing Carmichael’s anti-Semitic creed by arguing that

... the University’s position appears to be this: Political Zionism is off-limits no matter what dubious circumstances Israel was founded under; no matter what the Zionists do to the Palestinians; and no matter what wicked regimes Israel allies itself with — like South Africa. This position is untenable.

Ellison also chose to affiliate with other radical groups in his career as a political organizer and radio talk show host. In 2000, he appeared at a fundraiser for a convicted domestic terrorist Sara Jane Olson of the SLA who participated in the bombing of two police cars.

Ellison said that Olson was prosecuted for her political beliefs, although she pleaded guilty to possession of explosives with intent to murder. He also praised Assata Shakur — a member of the Black Panther Party, and a convicted cop-killer — and praised Fidel Castro for offering her asylum in Cuba.

Ellison maintained his full throated support for anti-American, anti-White and anti-Semitic “role models” until he decided to run for Congress in 2006. But even then he was less than truthful about his knowledge of Farrakhan’s bigotry. 

He said that he had “neglected to scrutinize the words” of Farrakhan and other race-baiters. But Farrakhan’s words did not need scrutiny: they were crystal clear, and Ellison had to have known that.

Moreover, Ellison himself had engaged in bigotry when he was a law student. A woman who had known him then — she is a liberal democrat and a person of unquestioned integrity — told me that Ellison had said to her: “I can not respect you because you are a woman and a Jew.” Views like that do not easily change, especially when the purported change comes about opportunistically as part of a campaign for Congress in a multi-ethnic district.

Nor has Ellison’s tune changed all that much, especially when he has spoken to Muslim groups, even after being elected to Congress. In 2010, for example, at a private fundraiser hosted by the past president of the Muslim American Society, Ellison suggested that America’s foreign policy is governed by Israeli interests.

In the audiotape, Ellison is heard as saying,

The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad for a country of 7 million people. A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million. Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right? When the Americans who trade their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes. Can I say that again?

To the mostly Muslim (and pro-Palestinian) audience, Ellison argues that the strong American support Israel receives is largely the result of lobby groups, such as AIPAC:

We can’t allow another country to treat us like we’re their ATM. Right? ... Now some of us have affinity for other places around the globe. But whether you’re born here or whether you accepted America as your own voluntarily, this is our home. Right? All of our home equally, and we can’t allow it to be disrespected because some, by a country that we’re paying money to ... It just doesn’t make any mathematical sense. But it makes all the sense in the world when you see that that country has mobilized its Diaspora in American to do its bidding in America.

After this audio tape emerged, several groups and individuals rescinded their initial endorsement of Ellison, most notably the ADL called Ellison’s statement “deeply disturbing and disqualifying.” As its chairman Jonathan Greenblatt explained,

His words imply that U.S. foreign policy is based on religiously or national origin-based special interests rather than simply on America’s best interests ... Ellison’s 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.

In addition Haim Saban, the head of the Brookings Institute Saban Forum and a leading Democratic fundraiser and contributor, has said that

If you go back to his positions, his papers, his speeches, the way he has voted [he was one of only 8 Congressmen who voted against funding Iron Dome, which protects Israel civilians against Hamas rocket attacks], he is clearly an anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel individual ... Ellison would be a disaster for the relationship between the Jewish community and the Democratic Party.

One does not have to agree that Ellison is an anti-Semite, to conclude that his appointment would be a disaster for American and for the Democratic Party.

Why then are Senators Schumer, Warren and Sanders supporting this “disaster,” even in the face of White House’s resistance to Ellison? Don’t they realize that many traditional, centrist Democrats of every religious background will leave the Democratic Party if it is headed by Ellison?

The case for Ellison is weak: the Democrats don’t have to pander to the hard left. The case against Ellison is overwhelming. If the Democratic Party is to retain its position as the centrist liberal party that cares about all Americans, it must not appoint Ellison to head the DNC.

Dershowitz is professor emeritus at Harvard University and author of "Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law."


The views of Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill