Monday, February 25, 2008

Carson Blames Grandmother For Farrakhan Ties

The Star's Robert King has an in-depth and informative story today about Andre Carson's religious faith and how a decision to allow controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan eulogize his late grandmother U.S. Rep. Julia Carson at her funeral is turning out to be one of the greatest liabilities for his bid to become the 7th District's new congressman. Carson stuck to his story of blaming his grandmother for Farrakhan's presence at her funeral, saying the family simply respected one of her dying wishes. He also passed up another opportunity to repudiate what amounted to an endorsement of his candidacy by Farrakhan during his eulogy at her funeral. King writes:

Andre Carson's greatest political asset may be his grandmother's name, but one of his biggest liabilities is proving to be her funeral.

That's because his family gave a spot in the parade of dignitaries who eulogized Congresswoman Julia Carson to Louis Farrakhan, whom Jewish leaders consider one of America's leading anti-Semites, gay rights activists consider a homophobe and who famously referred to white people as "devils."

In recent weeks, Andre Carson has been reassuring Jewish leaders here and in Washington that Farrakhan's appearance wasn't his idea. He has spoken publicly about his distaste for discrimination, homophobia or racism of any kind. He has talked repeatedly of his desire for unity.

But the Farrakhan episode also called attention to something that went largely unrecognized before -- that Andre Carson is a Muslim and that, if elected March 11, he would be Indiana's first Muslim representative in Congress and only the second in U.S. history.

How his faith will factor with voters, if at all, is unknown. But in a post-September 11 world, it has led some of his own campaign advisers to interject, without being prompted, that Andre Carson is not an Osama bin Laden Muslim. And since the funeral -- which included Farrakhan's own plug for Carson's candidacy -- the young Carson has been trying to explain that he also is not a Louis Farrakhan Muslim.

Carson says his faith is just part of who he is. "It is not the totality. Like every other human being, I have various faces," he said. "I am multifaceted."

Carson explains in the story how he was originally drawn to the Nation of Islam but turned off by what he called Farrakhan's, divisiveness, admitting, however, that he attended Farrakhan's Million Man March in D.C. in 1995. King writes:

Perhaps most transformative, though, was the "Autobiography of Malcolm X," the story of a complex man who preached black separatism as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam only to moderate his views before his death.

That story -- and the young Nation of Islam men patrolling his neighborhoods -- made Andre curious, he said. But he couldn't get past the divisiveness embodied by Farrakhan.

"That did not match my experiences or personal beliefs," Carson said. "So, for me, it was like it was good to see the drug dealers being pushed out. But the philosophy and the ideology do not match who I am."

Even so, Carson attended Farrakhan's Million Man March in 1995 -- with a white friend, he says -- because of his interest in black men taking responsibility, rather than any aspect of Farrakhan's persona.

"I was one of the many people," Carson points out, "who didn't agree with everything he said. Still don't."

Muhammad Siddeeq, the father of a friend, helped Carson sort through things. He spent hours answering Carson's questions about Islam, the Nation and Farrakhan. "It was really touching for me," Siddeeq said, "because he was such a youngster and he was seeking clarification."

Andre confronted a choice many young black men considering Islam face, Siddeeq said: To follow Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, with its street credibility on social matters but record of divisiveness, or more universal Islamic teachings that promote tolerance. At crunch time, Siddeeq said, Carson chose tolerance.

"This man," Siddeeq said, "moved in the spirit of what was right and what was wrong and he made the right decision, at the right time."
You see Carson trying to distance himself from Farrakhan throughout the interview, while laying blame for the real ties to his grandmother. King, who includes a quote from me raising the issue of Carson failing to repudiate Farrakhan's endorsement, writes:

Julia Carson and Louis Farrakhan go way back.

They were together, says Andre's wife, on the night Andre Carson was born. They were acquainted from Farrakhan's visits to meetings of the Congressional Black Caucus. When Farrakhan came to Indianapolis in 1997, Julia showed up at Farrakhan's news conference and gave him a hug. And as she lay dying in her Near-Northside home, Farrakhan called to wish her well.

Andre Carson knew little of the personal history. He said he had never met Farrakhan. Word of Farrakhan's phone call came to him from his grandmother's professional caregivers, and from Julia herself. As a grandson, Carson insists he was far from the final voice on her arrangements. But he still sought advice from Siddeeq, who said he must honor his grandmother's wishes . . .

So, in the end, he says he chose to honor his grandmother's wishes for her funeral. But matters grew more complicated for him when Farrakhan, while speaking over Julia's casket gave what essentially amounted to an endorsement of Andre as his grandmother's political successor. It was something he and his campaign staffers say he could easily lived without. It sparked letters to the editor referring to Andre as Farrakhan's emissary. Indianapolis political blogger Gary Welsh says Carson should repudiate Farrakhan's endorsement.

"If he disapproves of what he stands for then you wouldn't want his endorsement for the office you are seeking. And I've never heard that," Welsh wrote.
King has some interesting insight into the steps Carson has taken to diffuse the situation with the Jewish community, although he omits any mention of the fact that Carson's own campaign treasurer, Erin Rosenberg, was so repulsed by Farrakhan's eulogy at his grandmother's funeral that she got up and walked out as he began to speak. King also suggests that polling data may make the issue a bigger problem for Carson at the polls. King writes:

Jewish leaders initially were concerned as well. They asked for a meeting with Carson, heard his explanation of the invitation and accepted it, according to Marcia Goldstone, of the Jewish Community Relations Council. Carson met with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful Jewish lobby in Washington, which their spokesman, Josh Block, describes as "a good conversation."

Brian Vargus, a political scientist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said the Farrakhan flap has been overblown because the minister is, in his view, largely irrelevant to most voters. He says the fact that the 7th Congressional District leans heavily Democratic should override other factors. But he said it will be interesting to sees if political opponents will try to make an issue of Carson's faith.

But polling last year by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that it already is. Pew's survey found that 45 percent of Americans say a candidate would be less likely to garner their support if he or she holds the Muslim faith.

Carson has tried to deflect this, saying his faith is merely a compartment in his life. And indeed his support for abortion and gay rights would be at odds with many Muslims, whose views on social matters tend to be conservative. He has said little about Middle East peace other than he supports a secure Israel and a two-state solution to peace process for Israel and the Palestinians.

If the Jewish community's concerns have been allayed as the story suggests, you couldn't tell that based upon the significant amount of money flowing into the campaign of State Rep. David Orentlicher (D-Indianapolis), who is opposing Carson in the May primary and is Jewish. Orentlicher collected at least $170,000 before the end of last year, eclipsing all other candidates in the race, and some say he could raise close to $1 million before the May primary. Carson supporters like Wilson Allen were openly complaining that Orentlicher was raising money for his campaign before the late congresswoman had been laid to rest. A perusal of campaign finance reports filed with the FEC shows Orentlicher is receiving considerable financial support from the Jewish community both here and from around the country. Orentlicher no doubt draws some support from the Jewish community because of his own faith, but the Farrakhan flap has no doubt worked to his advantage by drawing attention across the country to his race for Congress.
As an interesting aside, Carson talks about his role fighting terrorism as a state excise police officer assigned for less than a year to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security's Fusion Center. When I asked the Indiana State Excise Police for a job description of the work he did there, I was told it could not be disclosed because of the sensitive nature of his work there. Carson, however, provided that information to bolster his stature on fighting terrorism. King writes of that work:
He has spent the bulk of his adult life -- nine years -- as an officer with the State Excise Police, a plainclothes job enforcing alcohol, tobacco and gambling laws. He also spent nearly a year dealing with counter-terrorism efforts at the state Department of Homeland Security, where Carson says he worked as a watch supervisor in a job that worked with the FBI, the CIA and the Drug Enforcement Administration on issues ranging from supremacist groups to threats of terrorism.
There's no mention of the huge controvery surrounding Carson and his cousin Sam's hiring at the Indiana State Excise Police nearly 10 years ago. A grand jury investigation by then-Prosecutor Scott Newman was triggered after there were allegations of political favoritism and illegalities under the leadership of former Supt. Gene Honeycutt, a former campaign manager of the late U.S. Rep. Julia Carson. Both Carson and his cousin were hired for their jobs despite there being more qualified candidates at the time. Carson finished 88th out of 89 in his class at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy according to records obtained from his personnel file by Advance Indiana. As a result of that investigation, Honeycutt pleaded guility to charges he accepted food, drink and other favors from strippers at two local Indianapolis strip clubs. Another excise police officer who worked with the Carsons, Jack Dugan, was charged with ghost employment. Both Honeycutt and Dugan lost their jobs.


Anonymous said...

. "I am multifaceted."

Should have said "I am multi-faced".
I pick the side that I think will win, not what I really believe.

Anonymous said...

Good job, Andre...maybe, just maybe, now the haters will let this rest.....others, not Andre, gave a deathbed wish to an old lady.

Anonymous said...

As someone who will not vote for Andre, I found his explanation to be fair. If it's honest, I get it.

But here's a conundrum: it's admirable to grant a dying grandmama's deathbed wish for a funeral eulogist. That's a family decision, and frankly, if she'd asked for a convicted murderer to speak, I'd have moved mountains to honor my grandma's wishes.

But it's quite another thing for an entire Congressional district to unilaterally grant, without question, her wish for successor.

That's on us, not her.

Thanks Andre, for clearing up the whole Minister LF thing. It's a dead issue for me now (no pun intended).

But I've heard your views on major issues, and I've heard your overall vision for Congress. And I'm not buying it. I don't wish you ill will, but I'm not buying the simplistic lines and the sophomoric slogans. It is clear to me you're the least-qualified candidate Mar 11 and May 6.

And that conclusion has nothing to do with your religion, or your grandmama's funeral eulogists.

And if my mind weren't made up, yesterday's Star comparison, side-by-side, made it up for me.

I'm betting there are still folks who will hound Andre for the Minister LF thing. Can we talk about real issues here, please?

Anonymous said...

This controversy will be over when Mr. Carson explicitly repudiates the bigoted Minister's endorsement. I would expect the same from Jon Elrod if David Duke or Indiana's KKK Grand Bigot endorsed him.

Anonymous said...

How much slack do you think the local and national media would give to any white candidate running against Andre Carson if it were known that white candidate and members of his family had ties to any white supremacist group?
We all know the answer to that.
Which begs the question, why does Andre Carson get a free pass? Is known involvement in a black supremacist hate group acceptable to voters because the candidate is black?
The Indianapolis Star article was extremely weak. Why did the reporter not contact the local Nation of Islam leader Minister Nuri Muhammad who dances to the tune of Farrakhan?
It was Minister Nuri Muhammad of Indianapolis that facilitated Farrakhan's invitation on behalf of Andre for Farrakhan to speak at Julia's funeral. Nuri Muhammad sat right next to Farrakhan on the front row at the funeral. This is a fact that the Indianapolis Star refused to print.
If the voters in the 7th District want to vote for a person supported by the top local and national leaders of the Nation of Islam then fine. I know where my vote's going and it will not be going to Andre Carson.

Anonymous said...

NO WAY will it rest! He will never get behind this and his campaign is too stubborn to make him rebuke his Muslim brother Louis K. Farakhan.

I am not buying it , and this B.S. news piece. I do use the term news delicately, and this will prove to be too much to overcome for THE NATION's canidate.

Anonymous said...

Carson blaming his granny for his dies to racist & black supremecist Louis Farrakhan is about as sincere as his fellow democrat, Bill Clinton's famous quote: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman...."

Interestingly enough, does he also blame his granny for GIVING him everything he's ever had, including every adult job he's had?

MissouriDemocrat said...

I never use religion as a litmus test for a candidate. In watching the televised discussion of the candidates Andre kept saying look at my record and I kept thinking what record. Is this the record that Granny got you a job due to political connections over other more qualified candidates and your personnel file is locked over at the prosecutors office that would prove that? Is this the record that the committee appointed you to your current office and you ran unopposed and that in the one month you were on during 2007 you didn’t do anything significant because it was a holiday and there were no relevent things to vote on you could author? Is this the record that you got your current job due to Granny’s influence and the mere fact you were on the CCC and could influence things in favor or your employer? What record is it you speak of Andre? I am a good democrat that is totally turned off with the “Send my seed” mentality. I might have supported you had Granny’s deathbed call not been publicized. I might have considered you more relevant as a candidate if you were Granny’s cousin rather than grandson. I might have considered you if you had personally stood in the line that moves willing politically interested people along toward a candidacy like others who preceded you. Those things not being a fact, I a loyal democrat donated my first buck to a republican. And, I urge everyone I know to vote against my party because it is in the interests of the people of Indianapolis. It is a sad day that the democratic party has chosen you Andre, sad indeed that they look to you as the sole person qualified among 1 million of us in Indy to serve in Congress.

Wilson46201 said... opposed to Jon Elrod having only one job (and for 5 years only) at his Daddy's business?

MissouriDemocrat said...

Mr. Allen, since you seem to be the expert on Mr. Carson and you like to bash Mr. Elrod, Mr. Elrod has worked albeit with Daddy as an Attorney. Going into the family business is a time honored tradition. If Granny Carson owned a real business I wouldn't at any time critize poor little Andre's credentials for working with Granny. The government of the people, by the people and for the people is not Granny Carsons personal business. Mr. Elrod was elected to two separate offices, he walked the streets to get his votes door to door in established democratic party areas. Mr. Carson called Granny. Two totally different means to an end. One is honest, the other is not.

Anonymous said...

Wilson, Elrod's family business isn't funded with taxpayer dollars. There is a BIG difference!

Anonymous said...

Well, to tiptoe through the memory books just a little, Julia had a private enterprise for awhile. It was a women's clothing store, in the now-defunct Claypool Court. It was belly-up in three years.

To her credit, she made good on all the debts, but it took a long time.

Nobody gives Wilson much credit for anything smart. Don't start here. His ragging on Elrod's experience is especially hollow, given Andre's experience and from when it came.

Generating your own income, Wilson, is not only difficult, it's frought with economic danger. Working in the public sector is often an honorable calling--but if it's your only income source ever, you have no idea what it's like to generate your own salary.

But that's not something I would expect you, or Andre, to understand. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Wilson bloviated:
" opposed to Jon Elrod having only one job (and for 5 years only) at his Daddy's business?"

One would not expect Wilson, who lapped from the public trough as a low level clerk for his bacon, to understand the difference between joing a family's private enterprise, being responsible to compete in the private marketplace (Jon Elrod's career path) and depending on your Grandmother to get you jobs in the public sector (Andre Carson's career path). There is, of course, a huge difference, but don't blame Wilson for not seeing that. He can't help it. He was born with the taxpayers' wallet in his mouth (to paraphrase).

Anonymous said...

sAnyone who know anything about Andre Carson will tell you that his involvement in NOI American Islam came via his activities on the streets with a gang known as The Five Percenters. Andre's involvement with the early Hip Hip scene was as a result of his buying into the dogma of the Five Percenters which dominated and continue to dominate the Hip Hop scene today. The Five Percenters were Andre's ticket to street cred and was the basis of his involvement in the early Hip Hop rap years.
The Five Percenters are NOT a religion, they are black supremacists. Their recruiting ground is not only in the inner city hood but more seriously in every one of America's prisons.
When Andre told Ruth Holliday that he was involved with the Five Percenters in Dodge City she didn't have a clue what the hell the Five Percenters were. Yet Andre told the Indianapolis Star he was involved with Nation of Islam youth and NOT with the Five Percenters. The NOI is black supemacist but the Five Percenters take it to a much much higher level. It's not religion it's dogma and ideology of a black street gang.
Andre Carson is pulling a ruse on the people in this city as he spouts political correctness all the while running an agenda known only to him and a few who you will never see in the headlines.
After you've googled exactly who the Five Percenters are then ask yourself if Andre Carson is the type person you want representing you in Congress.
To be honest with you, Andre Carson scares the hell out of me. He should scare the hell out of a lot more people, especially white people who make up nearly 70% of the 7th Congressional District.
This NOT about religion people, it's about what race and Andre's background has done nothing but help stoke the fires. If my warning about Andre and the Five Percenters throws another log on that fire then so be it. The people of Indianapolis have a right to know where this guy comes from.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Sexist Andre is singing a different toon now I see!

indyernie said...

Wilson is living in Mommy's house while criticizing Elrod for following in the family business. Such a pitiful hypocrite Wilson is.

indyernie said...

For info on the five percenters and Carson go to:

Read this, it sounds just like Carson's bio. Rapping and all. Very eye opening, a window into how Carson see the world. The more you read the more André you will see.

indyernie said...

Five percenters believe that 85% of African Americans are ignorant, dumb, and unable to think for themselves.
André better hope that they aren't smart enough to go to:

If they knew what he thinks he wouldn't get a single African American vote.

He's arrogant and he proves it daily with his words and backs it up with his actions

Wilson46201 said...

Ernie Shearer:
My Mother has been dead for some time now. As usual, you are wrong again.
I own my home.

Anonymous said...

We need to send the Board of Health to Wilson's home. Its a rat trap. He is one triffing man.