Congressman Keith Ellison has finally, after prodding by the House Ethics Committee, disclosed that the radical Muslim American Society of Minnesota paid $13,500 for him to attend the "hajj" or Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca last year. The Star Tribune dutifully concludes its report with Ellison's statement that "Bottom line, I didn't do anything wrong."
That may be true, within the limited frame of reference of the House Ethics Committee's reporting requirements. (Charlie Rangel reminds us, with each passing day, how hard it is to do "anything wrong" where that body is concerned.) But Minnesota voters could choose to apply a different standard. Why, exactly, is the Muslim American Society of Minnesota willing to devote $13,500 to send Congressman Ellison to Mecca?
The Muslim American Society, as we noted here, is a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent company of Hamas. Minnesota's chapter of the MAS has been closely associated with the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy charter school, which has generated a great deal of local controversy because it appears to be a religious school subsisting on public funds in violation of the First Amendment.
Worse, the Minnesota branch of the MAS has been behind some of the famous Muslim-related controversies that have erupted here in Minnesota, like the campaign to prevent Muslim taxi drivers at the Minneapolis airport--that's pretty much all of them--from transporting travelers with seeing-eye dogs, duty-free liquor, etc.
So, what does it all mean? The MAS of Minnesota is a fringe group with a radical agenda. Ellison has tried to position himself as a "moderate Muslim." It should be of some public interest that Ellison is indebted to the radicals for what he himself has described as a transformative religious experience. Not to mention the $13,500.
Let's do the usual thought experiment. What if a Republican Congressman--Michele Bachmann, say--got $13,500 to go on vacation from--well, it's hard to say from whom, since there isn't any conservative organization remotely comparable to the Muslim American Society. But let's say, from Focus on the Family. Would Minnesota's media consider that to be a news story, apart from any question about the legality of the trip? I'm pretty sure they would. Here, likewise, Keith Ellison's indebtedness to a radical Muslim organization is a legitimate source of concern for his constituents and others.