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miércoles, 14 de marzo de 2018

DNC vice chair Keith Ellison had secret hotel meeting with Louis Farrakhan

It looks like the Democrats’ Louis Farrakhan problem isn’t going anyway.

Despite denouncing Farrakhan and claiming to have severed contact with him in 2006, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Vice Chair and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) had a private hotel meeting with Farrakhan in 2016, according to The Washington Post in a fact-checking article published on Friday. 

Ellison also attended at least two other events at which Farrakhan was present while he was serving in Congress.

The representative’s relationship with Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam reportedly stretches back to the 1990s.

Ellison secretly met with Farrakhan

Ellison tried to downplay his known connections with Farrakhan when running for DNC chair in 2017, distancing himself from the brazen anti-Semitism and bigotry of the Nation of Islam leader. But Friday’s Washington Post report mentions at least three instances of possible contact between Ellison and Farrakhan since the DNC vice chair claimed to have cut ties with Farrakhan in 2006.

In 2016, Ellison and Indiana Representative André Carson, the only Muslim members of Congress, met Farrakhan at a hotel. This meeting reportedly occurred shortly before Ellison wrote an op-ed denouncing Farrakhan, itself prompted by a 2016 CNN article probing the relationship between the two men.

The Washington Post reported:

2016: Ellison met privately with Farrakhan. Shortly after Ellison wrote his Washington Post article, Farrakhan posted an interview on his Facebook page in which he said the “deceitful” op-ed was the result of “Jewish control of politics, economics, Hollywood, music, media.”

He also said that Ellison and Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), the only other Muslim member of Congress, had recently met with him and had a private chat.

“Both of them, when I was in Washington, visited my suite and we sat down talking like you and I are talking,” Farrakhan told his interviewer, Munir Muhammad. “But evidently, the enemy has made me the litmus test for all black people who want to rise in their world.”

The response

Rep. Carson later confirmed the meeting to the Post:

I’ve spent my life fighting discrimination in every form, from anyone. As a Member of Congress, I have met with a diverse array of community leaders, including Minister Farrakhan, to discuss critical issues that are important to my constituents and all Americans.

While many of these leaders have long track records of creating positive change in their communities, this does not mean that I see eye to eye with them on all beliefs or public statements. Racism, homophobia, islamophobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance have no place in our civil discourse.

This is part of my responsibility as a Representative to the diverse constituency I represent. As public officials, we must all recommit ourselves to simultaneously advocating for our communities while fostering a more inclusive, tolerant society.

Ellison’s staff did not respond to a Post request for comment, and when prompted last month by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to address the hotel meeting, Ellison demurred.

“No relationship. My political opponents keep pushing this out there in order to smear and distract from the key issues,” he said.

Two other meetings

Two other meetings between Ellison and Farrakhan also suggest that the DNC chair has been less than forthright about his connection to the anti-Semitic firebrand.

The Daily Caller uncovered a 2013 video taken sometime in the early 2010s that shows Farrakhan and Ellison attending a function at an Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia. The two men are shown conversing in the same group of people, although not directly with each other.

Ellison also attended a dinner in September of 2013 for Iranian president Hassan Rouhani that was attended by Islamic leaders, including Farrakhan. Ellison claimed to have not known who would be attending in advance, neglecting to mention Farrakhan in his statement:

As part of the 2013 U.N. General Assembly, and as negotiations were under way for what would become the Iran deal, I attended a meeting with President Rouhani and nearly 50 American Muslim leaders.

This was not a private dinner, I didn’t know in advance who else would be there, and my decision to attend was not an endorsement of the political views of other attendees.

I attended the meeting to advocate for a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue and to press President Rouhani face-to-face for the release of former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, who was illegally detained and tortured by the Iranian regime.

As always, I disavow anti-Semitism and bigotry in all of its forms.

Farrakhan won’t forget

For his part, Farrakhan won’t let Ellison forget his involvement with the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan criticized Ellison for distancing himself from the group during an anti-Semitic speech on Feb. 25, brandishing a photo of Ellison selling Nation of Islam newspapers in the 1990s.

Indeed, Ellison’s involvement with the Nation of Islam goes back years. As a college student, Ellison defended Farrakhan against accusations of anti-Semitism. He participated in preparations for Farrakhan’s Million Man March in 1995 and was involved with the black nationalist group until at least 1998.

Ellison can try to spin this however he likes, but the evidence doesn’t lie. Ellison and the DNC have some explaining to do.