Keith Ellison, Antifa fan

Keith Ellison

On Tuesday, we met Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in the U.S. Congress – who, among much else, has defended Louis Farrakhan, likened George W. Bush to Hitler, and compared Trump unfavorably with Kim Jong-un. As we’ve seen, Ellison, who represents Minneapolis and environs, has been quite chummy with the terrorist-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations: he’s spoken at CAIR events, and CAIR leaders have spoken at Ellison fundraisers.

Ellison addressing the US Council of Muslim Organizations

But CAIR isn’t the only dicey Muslim group with which he has cozy connections. He’s addressed at least three conventions of the Hamas-linked Islamic Society of North America. In 2007 and again in 2008, he was the keynote speaker at conventions of the Muslim American Society (MAS), appearing on the second occasion with an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. MAS, which has been linked to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al-Qaeda, and which the United Arab Emirates has designated as a terrorist group, has called for jihadist violence and the murder of Jews, and, in its official magazine, routinely refers to suicide bombers as martyrs and to terrorists as freedom fighters. In 2016, under pressure, Ellison withdrew as speaker from a MAS event.

Ellison with jihad enthusiast and faux feminist Linda Sarsour

As we made clear on Tuesday, Ellison’s radical record was no mystery when Minneapolis voters sent him to Congress in 2006. It is hard to know what to make of the fact that they’ve sent him back five times since then, during a decade when his ties to pro-jihad groups and his hostility to Israel have been repeatedly on display. Less difficult to explain is why his fellows Democrats chose him – by unanimous acclamation – as the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee: he represents the party’s “progressive” wing, and these days, in that party, “progressive” includes everything from socialists-bordering-on-Communists to Muslims (and friends of Islam) whose public criticisms of jihadist terrorism sound painfully tame and pro forma.

Ellison with Mark Bray’s book

The latest cause for widespread concern about Ellison was a tweet he sent out on January 3. It read: “@MoonPalaceBooks and I just found the book that strike [sic] fear in the heart of @realDonaldTrump.” Accompanying the text was a photo of Ellison holding a volume entitled Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by Mark Bray. Antifa, of course, is the umbrella term for a number of groups that, during the last couple of years, have joined together in violent protests against conservative, libertarian, and other non-leftist speakers at various U.S. college campuses. As the Daily Caller noted, “While the group [Antifa] claims to be anti-Fascist, they routinely shut down the speech of people they disagree with.”The Washington Times described Bray’s book as “a history of anti-fascism movements and guide to aspiring radicals.” Some reports have maintained that the book is nothing more than an objective account of its topic (Newsweek called it “politically neutral”), but this claim is nonsense: as an Associated Press report indicated, Bray “calls violence during counter-protests ‘a small though vital sliver of anti-fascist activity.’” Bray also maintains that certain ideas are undeserving of First Amendment protection.

Ben Shapiro

In response to Ellison’s tweet, Alex Griswold of the Washington Free Beacon tweeted: “Um, the deputy chair of the DNC is endorsing a book that advocates for violence in the streets.” The Young America’s Foundation (YAF) chastised Ellison for his tweet, calling it an “inexplicable embrace of violent Antifa tactics.” YAF, which has been involved in arranging many of the campus speaking events that Antifa has sought to disrupt, commented: “No one knows the dangers posed by Antifa better than the conservative college students YAF works with around the country who have been threatened, stalked, and at times attacked by the radical leftists who make up its ranks. Most notably, Antifa thugs attempted to shut down YAF’s campus lecture with Ben Shapiro at the University of California, Berkeley.” 

Nancy Pelosi

Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has vilified Antifa, saying last August: “You’re not talking about the far left of the Democratic Party – they’re not even Democrats. A lot of them are socialists or anarchists or whatever.” But Ellison isn’t the only high-profile establishment figure to signal his fondness for Antifa, and after his tweet went public – and garnered criticism – some mainstream publications dismissed the furor as a far-right tempest in a teapot. “The anger toward Ellison is increasingly a fringe movement,” Newsweek insisted, the implication being that any hostility directed at him is by definition racist and Islamophobic.

Berkeley’s mayor is a radical anarchist, too

Yvette Felarca

This week we’ve been examining the ugly antics of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a California-based “anti-fascist” group whose members carry out violent protests at which they behave like a bunch of fascists. We’ve been focusing especially on BAMN leader Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley middle-school teacher, and on the group’s successful attempt on February 1 last to close down a scheduled lecture by conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, BAMN caused about $100,000 in damages on the UC Berkeley campus and about four or five times that much damage in downtown Berkeley.

Milo Yiannopoulos

One of the questions that were widely raised after BAMN’s Berkeley hijinks was why the police stood down during the whole thing. Videos taken in the midst of the violence showed Berkeley police officers standing nearby but staying completely out of it, allowing thugs to take over the city streets in which they are pledged to keep the peace. There was a total of one arrest. Police officers asked by reporters about their failure to intervene replied by suggesting that the matter be taken up with the mayor and chief of police. Obviously they had been ordered not to interfere with BAMN.

Arreguin being sworn in as a City Council member

Attention turned, then, to Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin, whose public response to the incident was to call Yiannopoulos – falsely – a “white nationalist” and to say that he was not welcome in Berkeley. Some very interesting answers have since emerged. On April 21, the Heat Street website reported that Arreguin is a member of BAMN’s Facebook page. Yes, that’s right: the mayor of Berkeley belongs to the violent anarchist group – a group identified by the FBI and State Department as a terrorist organization – that did hundreds of thousands of damage in his own city. He and Felarca are also Facebook friends. An activist interviewed by Heat Street described BAMN as being “like a cult.”

Arreguin and Che

As it happens, Arreguin’s entire career has been in local Berkeley politics. After attending UC Berkeley, he served on many local government boards, including the Rent Stabilization Board, from 2004 to 2008. For the next eight years, he was a member of the City Council. He has only been mayor since December 1, 2016. Arreguin’s own Facebook page, by the way, features a picture of him with his cat. The cat is named Che.

Yiannopoulos with Ann Coulter

Yiannopoulous isn’t the only speaker to have been targeted lately by the punks at Berkeley. Conservative author Ann Coulter, who has written a dozen or so New York Times bestsellers, was invited by the College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to give a speech on campus. It was originally scheduled for today; campus officials, using the excuse of security concerns, canceled the event, but after an international outcry offered to let her give a talk on May 2, during a week known at Berkeley as Dead Week because everybody’s busy studying for final exams. Coulter insisted she would come today as planned; meanwhile the College Republicans threatened to sue the college if it didn’t come up with a suitable venue. Yesterday, however, Coulter announced that she would not be coming to Berkeley after all, because the College Republicans and YAF, also citing security concerns, had changed its mind about hosting her. “Everyone who should believe in free speech fought against it or ran away,” Coulter lamented.