MN Congressman Keith Ellison compared 9/11 to the burning of the Reichstag, Bush to Hitler. You can agree or disagree with the statement. You can think it’s uniquely insightful and courageous or completely idiotic. In the end, the free marketplace of democracy will decide what his supporters think.
But now it appears that Abe Foxman and the ADL have trademarked the use of any language pertaining to Hitler and the Holocaust. There is no denying the singular nature of the Holocaust’s impact on the Jewish people. But apparently, despite the fact that over 5 million non-Jews were also killed, the tragedy belongs not only to us Jews and us alone, but the the Anti-Defamation League.
It must be a funny coincidence- the ADL is going after the only Muslim on Congress. And what did he say, exactly? He didn’t even mention or allude to the Holocaust. As horrible as the Jewish experience was in the Shoah, there was a good deal more to Hitler’s evil crusade. Is everything pertaining to Hitler now out of bounds unless it receives Abe Foxman’s stamp of approval?
Worse, Ellison immediately tried to mend the fences with the ADL. And they spent hours working with him on a statement and, just before he was ready to send it to the media, the ADL sent their own condemnation out. Politics may be a rough game in general, but even by those Machiavellian standards, this was dirty pool at its worst.
Aides to the country’s first Muslim congressman say they were blindsided by a stinging condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League.
Aides to Rep. Keith Ellison, say the ADL criticized Ellison after the Minnesota Democrat had told the ADL that he planned to recant his comparison of Bush administration policies to Nazi tactics.
The offending line came in a July 8 speech to an atheists’ group in Minnesota. Ellison compared Bush administration policies after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to Adolf Hitler’s use of the burning of the Reichstag to consolidate his rule.
After Ellison defended his remarks in a subsequent interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the ADL reached out to him to discuss the issue and convinced him that it was inappropriate to use such an analogy.
Ellison aides and ADL staff in the ADL office in Washington spent much of Tuesday negotiating the language of his recantation, both sides said. It was understood that Ellison would release a statement expressing regret over his earlier comparison and make his feelings known in an interview with The Associated Press.
After this cooperation, Ellison aides said they were shocked when, before the congressman released his statement and the AP article was distributed, journalists called asking about an ADL statement slamming his earlier remarks. The statement said Ellison demonstrated “a profound lack of understanding about the horrors that Hitler and his Nazi regime perpetrated.”
The flap follows several incidents during the past year that have left Democratic lawmakers and staff fuming over what they describe, often privately, as unfair treatment from Jewish organizations. In this case, Ellison aides said the ADL turned its back on good-faith negotiations.
“We went to great lengths, had ongoing conversations,” Rick Jauert, Ellison’s spokesman, said. “No sooner had we gotten off the phone than I received the news — what did we just engage in? It’s not the way friends treat each other.”
The ADL statement, which quoted its national director, Abraham Foxman, landed in journalists’ e-mail inboxes at 5:30 p.m. with an urgent notification — just after Ellison thought he had wrapped up his negotiations with the organization and after he had spoken with the AP. The AP story was sent out a couple of hours after the ADL statement, at 7:30 p.m.
Foxman said he put out the statement although he was aware of the negotiations between Ellison’s staff and the ADL’s Washington office, because the congressman waited too long.
“That story was out there for days,” Foxman said. “He didn’t say anything.”
In his July 8 speech, Ellison said Bush’s post-9/11 policies “kind of reminds me” of the Reichstag fire.
“After the Reichstag was burned,” he said, the Nazis “blamed the communists for it, and it put the leader of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”