Article shows Ellison bashing capitalism, describing fear of crime as ‘white hysteria’

Ellison's 1993 op-ed criticized media coverage of crime for spreading "white hysteria."

Keith Ellison speaks at a press conference at the Hennepin County Government Center in 2018. (Lorie Shaull/Flickr)

In a brief Star Tribune commentary from nearly three decades ago, current Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison trashed capitalism for its “exploitation of labor” and accused the paper of contributing to “white hysteria.”

Alpha News obtained a photocopy of the Star Tribune edition printed on Saturday, Aug. 7, 1993. In the “counterpoint” section of commentary, the paper published a brief article by Ellison, a then-litigator who was identified as a participant in that year’s urban peace summit in St. Paul from July 14-18. One of the summit’s speakers appears to have been notorious anti-white racist and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Ellison’s piece responded to what he perceived as four issues with the Star Tribune’s coverage of the event. One of the concerns dealt with the paper’s use of the term “black capitalism.” Ellison said the term didn’t adequately reflect the views of the summit attendees.

“While it’s true that the urban peace movement is committed to economic development, it’s false that the movement is about ‘black capitalism.’ In fact, I have never heard anyone use the term ‘capitalism’ at any summit,” he wrote.

In the next paragraph, Ellison bashed capitalism for purportedly lining the pockets of the ultra-wealthy while leaving most people in a state of “crushing poverty.”

“Capitalism is a fairly recent method of producing wealth in human history, and it is marked by exploitation of labor, crushing poverty for the many and obscene wealth for the few,” he wrote. “I don’t believe anyone in the peace movement is advocating such a system.”

Also in the piece Ellison accused the Star Tribune of spreading “white hysteria” in its coverage of “black and brown criminality.” Like today, the early to mid-’90s were a violent time in Minneapolis, eventually earning the city the infamous title of “Murderapolis.”

“The Star Tribune isn’t known in the black community as the ‘Johannesburg Times’ for nothing,” Ellison said, referring to South Africa’s apartheid regime that had begun to crumble by the early 1990s.

This is not the first unearthed Ellison column to raise eyebrows. As a third-year law student at the University of Minnesota Law School in the 1989-90 school year, Ellison wrote multiple Minnesota Daily columns under the name “Keith Hakim” on race and the Nation of Islam, according to the Daily Caller.

In one of the columns, he called for voluntary racial separation of American whites and blacks, with separated blacks in their own “black state,” as well as reparations for slavery.

“Blacks, of course, would not be compelled to move to the black state, and, of course, peaceful whites would not be compelled to move away. This is a bargain,” Ellison wrote.

“Whites would be relieved of the burdens of the black-faced but white-dominated social programs. Blacks would employ themselves, teach their own children the truth and control their own neighborhoods. Black-white interaction would be voluntary instead of compelled. No more busing, no more affirmative action and, best of all, no more white guilt,” he added.

These ideas are similar to the black-separatist agenda espoused by the Nation of Islam, a group Ellison was “deeply involved” in during the ’90s, CNN reports.

In another column, Ellison said fear of crime was used to oppress black people.

“Because of fear of the black criminal, African-Americans are oppressed in all the same old ways,” he said, praising the Nation of Islam’s work to combat drug trafficking.

Ellison has claimed to have long distanced himself from Farrakhan, condemning his openly racist views on whites and Jews as far back as his 2006 run for Congress.

“I have long since distanced myself from and rejected the Nation of Islam due to its propagation of bigoted and anti-Semitic ideas and statements, as well as other issues,” he wrote at the time, according to CNN.

But evidence suggests that Ellison’s ties with Farrakhan persisted until at least the early 2010s. The Washington Post awarded Ellison “Four Pinocchios” in 2018 for claiming his association with Farrakhan ended before his time in Congress.

Ellison again distanced himself from Farrakhan in 2016 during a run for chair of the Democratic National Committee.

“These men organize by sowing hatred and division, including, anti-Semitism, homophobia and a chauvinistic model of manhood. I disavowed them long ago, condemned their views, and apologized,” he said.

Ellison has also faced criticism in the past for defending domestic terrorist Sara Jane Olson and convicted cop killer Assata Shakur, CNN adds.

Alpha News reached out to Ellison’s campaign for comment but did not receive a response.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.