Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity launched an Islampophobic attack against Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) during his Fox News show on Thursday night, implying that the Muslim Congressman is a racist and an anti-Semite. The segment came just days after Ellison and Hannity engaged in a confrontational interview on Tuesday night. “We decided to take a closer look at the man who called me immoral and a liar,” Hannity began. “Now it didn’t take long to prove his hypocrisy, as his past reveals a host of radical connections primarily to Louis Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam.”
In the late 1990s, Ellison worked with the group to organize the Million Man March, but apologized for failing to “adequately scrutinize the positions and statements” of the Nation of Islam and Farrakhan six years ago in a letter to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.
“I wrongly dismissed concerns that they were anti-Semitic,” he wrote, adding, “They were and are anti-Semitic and I should have come to that conclusion earlier than I did.” “I have long since distanced myself from and rejected the Nation of Islam due to its propagation of bigoted and anti-Semitic ideas and statements, as well as other issues.”
After the accusations first surfaced in 2006, Ellison’s Jewish law school colleagues said that “they never got the impression that Ellison himself was anti-Semitic” and American Jewish World, the newspaper for Minnesota’s Jewish community, endorsed him.
The Jewish Community Relations Council has since defended him from anti-Muslim attacks. “Representative Ellison is a friend to the Jewish community and we have enjoyed a strong working relationship with him since he assumed office in 2007,” the group said in a statement released last year.
At one point during the segment, while discussing Khalid Muhammad, Hannity asked, “What is the difference, I mean, do we have somebody then in Congress that is the equivalent of one side of what the Klan is?”
After Ellison was sworn in on the Quran in 2006, Hannity compared it to Mein Kampf: “[Y]ou know, would you have allowed him to choose, you know, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which is the Nazi bible? In other words, where does this stop? Is there any limitations whatsoever?”
Religious leaders are coming to Ellison’s defense. Here is Rabbi Marc Schneier, president and Co-founder of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding: “Congressman Ellison has been a valued friend to the American Jewish community. He has been a partner in strengthening Muslim Jewish relations. As an example, he was responsible for organizing the letter by Muslim Americans to Khaled Meshal, head of Hamas, in demanding the release of Gilad Shalit.”