A Democrat who has come under fire for his ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan despite a long record of warning that hate speech poses one of the greatest threats to U.S. security dismissed calls from the Republican Jewish Coalition for his resignation, saying the organization lacks credibility in his view.
A defiant Rep. Andre Carson told FOX 59 that the Jewish coalition “doesn’t have any credibility with [him]” and that it’s all part of their political agenda.
“The Congressional Black Caucus is asking that organization to condemn (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu and the (Israeli) government for discriminating against Africans who are migrating, who are fleeing dictatorships, who are fleeing oppression,” he added. “There's a great deal of bigotry and racism happening right now they fail to condemn.”
Carson’s remarks came after he was asked about his ties to Farrakhan, who frequently expresses hostility toward Jews, as well as whites and the LGBT community.
The Indiana congressman is one of eight members of the Congressional Black Caucus known to have ties to Farrakhan, who recently made national headlines when he delivered a major speech in Chicago in which he said “powerful Jews are my enemy” and “Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.”
Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, told Fox News that it seems clear to him that Carson flatly refuses to disavow Farrakhan.
“His comment about Netanyahu and Israel is a pivot to deflect from the fact that he’s unwilling and unprepared to condemn the hatred of Mr. Farrakhan,” Brooks said.
The other members of the Black caucus with ties to Farrakahn were recently identified by The Daily Caller as being Maxine Waters of California, Danny Davis of Illinois, Al Green of Texas, Barbara Lee of California, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Gregory of New York, and James Clyborn of South Carolina.
"You cannot condemn anti-Semitism and embrace the anti-Semite."
Ellison is deputy director of the Democratic National Committee and Clyson is the third-highest ranking House Democrat.
Under mounting pressure since Farrakahn’s speech in Chicago, many of the eight CBC members have released statements saying they oppose racism and anti-Semitism. With the exception of Ellison, Meeks and Lee, the statements notably avoided mentioning Farrakhan.
Green and Waters have not yet publically commented.
In a 2015 interview to ABC News, Carson said that racial separatists are the biggest national security threat – more than jihadists -- to the U.S.
“The rhetoric that we’re seeing, it concerns me…most of our domestic threat comes from racial supremacist groups,” he said. “I’ve worked in counterterrorism; I know this to be a fact.”
His spokeswoman Jessica Gail, told Politifact that the congressman “believes that when looking at relative membership numbers, hateful rhetoric, racially based hate crimes and fatalities by right-wing organizations, it paints a picture of a larger threat to the safety of Americans and society as a whole.”
Gail did not address Fox News’ questions, but did release a statement attributed to the congressman that said: “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.”
"Many of these leaders have long track records of creating positive change in their communities, (but) this does not mean that I see eye to eye with them on all beliefs or public statements."
He continued: “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.”
Brooks told Fox News that statements by Carson and others that seem to carefully avoid a direct position on Farrakhan himself are deficient.
“You cannot condemn anti-Semitism and embrace the anti-Semite,” he said.
The liberal group Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Nation of Islam as a hate group, and Farrakhan as a separatist. Farrakhan is a proponent of blacks living separately from whites – a concept also supported by white nationalist groups that Carson said threaten U.S. security.
Farrakhan seems to reserve his strongest attacks for Jews, blaming them for the Sept. 11 attacks, apartheid and for, as he put it in 2006, “promoting lesbianism, [and] homosexuality.”
“It’s the wicked Jews, false Jews, that make it a crime for you to preach the word of God, then they call you homophobic!” he said.
Tony Katz, a conservative radio host in Indiana, called for Carson’s resignation.
“We can’t have him representing us,” Katz told Fox News. “The same goes for members of any party who are associating with bigots and anti-Semites. They say they work with Farrakhan on issues that are important in the black community. Is there not another leader in the black community they can work with?”
The Republican National Committee is calling on its Democratic counterparts to take a stand on the ties some of its members have with Farrakhan. Efforts by Fox News to get comments from the DNC, CBC, Waters, Green and Clyborn were unsuccessful.