Rep. Karen Bass, a top contender to become presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, appeared at Nation of Islam events, posed for a picture with a top Nation of Islam official, and attended a forum in 2013 hosted by the organization’s official mouthpiece.
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has referred to Jewish people as “satanic,” blamed them for the Holocaust and the Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks, and once praised Adolf Hitler as a “very great man.” Farrakhan has also denounced interracial marriage, which he said has “mongrelized” the black race.
The Nation of Islam holds that white people were created 6,000 years ago as the result of a selective breeding program by a black scientist called Yakub.
“This teaching of the birth of the White race has been central to the belief system in the Nation of Islam and it has been met with hostility and profound resistance by its critics, who have most commonly termed it ‘hate teaching,’” the Final Call, the Nation of Islam’s official mouthpiece, states on its website.
But Bass, a California Democrat, appeared alongside Tony Muhammad, the director of the Nation of Islam’s Western division, at events in 2014 and 2015. Bass is seen posing with Muhammad in a photo posted online by Mablean Ephriam, the former host of Fox television program “Justice With Judge Mable.”
She attended an anti-police brutality event in April 2015 along with Muhammad and other Los Angeles-area activists, video shows. Dr. Mauluna Karenga, the founder of the holiday Kwanzaa, also spoke at the rally.
Karenga was convicted in 1971 on charges that he tortured two women who were part of his black liberation paramilitary group, US Organization.
Bass attended a summit hosting first ladies from Africa in April 2013 hosted by the Final Call, the “official communications organ of the Nation of Islam,” which posted a photo of the California Democrat at the event.
Muhammad praised Bass and another California Democrat, Rep. Maxine Waters, during a 2018 interview.
“I have to say, I thank God for Maxine Waters and Congresswoman Karen Bass,” Muhammad told the Los Angeles Sentinel in April 2018, when some Democratic lawmakers were distancing themselves from Farrakhan.
“I think our Black politicians should stand down. Minister Farrakhan will take a call from a Maxine Waters or Karen Bass. He will stop what he’s doing … come and correct him, he’s told them. But don’t let anyone tell you I’ve done something wrong without checking,” Muhammad said.
A spokesperson for Bass told the Daily Caller News Foundation that Bass has never met or talked to Farrakhan, in contradiction to Muhammad’s statements in the 2018 interview.
“Rep. Bass has never met Louis Farrakhan, has never spoken to Louis Farrakhan and has no ties to Louis Farrakhan,” the spokesperson said, asserting that the congresswoman “is in no way linked to Louis Farrakhan or the Nation of Islam.”
Regarding the events that both Bass and Muhammad attended, the Bass aide said that she “did not control the program, the other speakers or attendees.”
The Bass spokesperson did not address a question of whether she is willing to denounce the Nation of Islam and Farrakhan.
The Church of Scientology awarded Muhammad its highest honor in 2017. The DCNF reported Friday that Bass praised the Church of Scientology at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for one of its facilities in Los Angeles in 2010.
Bass isn’t the only prominent Democrat to have faced scrutiny over connections to the Nation of Islam.
Illinois Rep. Danny Davis praised Farrakhan as an “outstanding human being.” In a March 2018 interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation, Davis confirmed that he had a personal relationship with Farrakhan and said he was unbothered by Farrakhan’s “position” on “the Jewish question.”
Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib in 2006 wrote an op-ed for the Final Call, which described her as a “guest columnist.” A spokesperson for Tlaib later said that she rejects Farrakhan’s “anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ views.”
Waters was captured on video hugging Farrakhan when he met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2006.
In 2002, Waters appeared at a Nation of Islam conference where Farrakhan defended Palestinian suicide bombers. “We have Maxine Waters here,” Farrakhan told attendees of the California conference, describing her as “our great congresswoman from this area.”
Waters hasn’t disavowed Farrakhan or the Nation of Islam.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s ties to Farrakhan began in the 1990s and continued for years after Ellison entered Congress in 2006, despite his statements to the contrary. The Washington Post in March 2018 awarded Ellison four “Pinocchios” — its worst possible fact check rating — for claiming that his relationship with Farrakhan ended before he entered Congress.
Indiana Rep. Andre Carson admitted taking a private meeting with Farrakhan in a Washington, D.C., hotel room in 2015. Carson confirmed the meeting’s existence to a newspaper columnist in 2018 and declined to rule out further meetings with the Nation of Islam leader.