Democratic National Committee vice-chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) said he was offended people continue to ask him to denounce anti-Semitism, despite questions over his relationship with Nation of Islam leader and rabid anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.
Ellison was taking questions at the Harvard Institute of Politics when a student mentioned rising anti-Semitism and Farrakhan, who has made many anti-Semitic statements, the Washington Examiner reports. Ellison has had multiple meetings with Farrakhan since being elected to public office, despite the Washington Post giving him their highest rating for lies after claiming he had "no relationship" with Farrakhan.
"What I’m telling you is the only way Farrakhan gets in the news is if somebody tries to say, ‘Oh this black person whose whole life is dedicated to human rights met him or saw him or was in a room with him.’ It’s a smear, man. I’m sorry. It is a smear," Ellison said. "And I got to tell you it is frustrating to be pulled out and be in and it’s like it’s your daily moment to denounce anti-Semitism. We denounce it. We absolutely denounce it. We think it is reprehensible, murderous, and genocidal. And it offends me that anyone would insist that I do it one more time."
Ellison defended other members of the Congressional Black Caucus who have met with Farrakhan.
"The Black Caucus in particular has been targeted with this smear," Ellison said. "The Black Caucus has fought for justice more than any other caucus in the United States Congress, period, and that’s who is being questioned about whether we really stand against hatred. It’s offensive."
Ellison defended Farrakhan in some of his writings in the 1980s and 1990s before distancing himself and expressing regret for his prior activities when he first ran for Congress in 2006. In an anti-Semitic rant in February, Farrakhan called out the congressman, saying "the Jews" made Ellison apologize for his prior membership in the Nation of Islam in order to let him run for office.
Watch Ellison's remarks at the Harvard Institute of Politics: