Hero: Keith Ellison

by Jay Stevens 

Imagine: you’re an American Muslim. You constantly hear cries from certain quarters that your religion naturally breeds violence — never mind that older Islamic societies were some of the most peaceful, learned and tolerant civilizations the world has seen — that you and your fellow worshippers are hell-bent on conquering the world and “destroying” the United States, democracy, and, one presumes, apple pie. In fact, too many people have suggested American Muslims should be put into detention camps, or, at the very least, isolated at airports and bus and train stations based on your religion.

Would you run for Congress? (I sure as h*ll wouldn’t. I would be living in Canada or New Zealand, thank you very much.)

Not only did Keith Ellison run for Congress, he won a seat. And he plans on swearing the oath of office on his religion’s most sacred book, the Koran.

You may remember the ensuing kerfluffle, when talk-show host Dennis Prager made a fuss about Ellison swearing his oath of office on a Koran. (And Prager’s at it again.) Or the narrow-minded remarks by Viriginia Representative Virgil Goode.

Again, if it were me, I’d have said something nasty back.

Not Keith Ellison. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Ellison sought unity, not divisiveness:

…diversity of our country is a great strength. It’s a good thing that we have people from all faiths and all cultures that come here. And we all support one Constitution, one Constitution that upholds our right to equal protection, one Constitution that guarantees us due process under the law, one Constitution which says that there is no religious test for elected office in America.

So the document that is the bedrock of our democracy expressly prohibits applying any religious test, and I think that diversity in our nation is a great thing and we should embrace it, not be afraid of it.


And so there’s nothing for [Virgil Goode] to be afraid of, and that what we should do is to tell our constituents that we should reach to each other, not be against each other, and we should find ways for common ground.

And the whole hubbub surrounding his religion, and his taking his office? Ellison thought it was a great opportunity for folks to revisit the Constitution.

I’ve heard it said that the Democratic Party needs to clearly define its ethos, so folks will understand what it’s about. Well, I think Ellison has just demonstrated the lefty ethos: tolerance, unity, the rule of law, and the prominence of the Constitution and the principles that founded this country.

  1. noodly appendage

    Never seen much tolerance from the far left. “The big tent” after all, was Reagan’s.

    Finding the “true progressives” and weeding out the rest, is, after all, the blogger led dream of the Democrats.

    I did like what Ellison had to say. But it doesn’t seem representative of the “true progressives” who are eager to marginalize as the other extreme.

  2. Turner

    I’m not sure “tolerance” per se is a virtue among lefties or anyone else. Any ethical person, it seems to me, needs to be intolerant of certain behaviors (e.g., war profiteering, torture, polluting our environment).

    The problem with rightists is that while they’re quite tolerant of the bad behavior of rich Caucasian Christians like Bush and his friends, they’re quite intolerant of certain people (Muslims, Blacks, atheists) for reasons having little or nothing to do with behavior.

  3. Noodly: if that’s what you think of progressives, you’ve been listening to too much talk radio. Most progressive issues — health care reform, fair trade, withdrawal of troops from Iraq — are wildly popular with Americans.

    Again, if you read lefty blogs, ‘net progressives hardly have “litmus tests” for support. Tester’s a great example: he supports the gay marriage ban and is as keen on gun rights as your average American, yet he’s a ‘net fave because of his honesty, integrity, and commitment to middle-class economic issues. Or Jim Webb. Or Bob Casey. Etc & co.

  4. If I was to be sworn into office, I’d not use either the Bible or Koran. They are both nasty business.

    This expalins why I would never be sworn into office.

  5. Actually, I don’t think you have to swear on anything, by law. And I believe plenty of agnostic and atheist Congressmen did just that. I should find a link…

  6. I don’t see how this in any way qualifies him as a hero.

  7. Widowmaker

    Just to add to Touchstones, the pictures of Congressman swearing on bibles is faked. Its a mass “swearing”. Theres no hand on anything. Theres time to additionally use a bible or nothing. Its not noticed whatever you use. Normally I get tired of the phrase “Hate Speech”, but opposition to using the Koran is both hate and ignorant. “Swearing” on a bible hasn’t stopped numerous scandals on both party lines. Maybe the Koran will tighten him up. It will mean something on the Koran, but nothing on the bible. And normally I’m the “crazy” right wing nut!

  8. I don’t see how this in any way qualifies him as a hero.

    Let’s see…he took serveral personal, narrow-minded attacks on his religion and turned them into a positive experience for himself and his country…oh, and by the way, he’s the only one of his kind in the entire body of Congress in an atmosphere of fear mongering against people like him.

    If that ain’t a hero, I don’t know what is.

  9. noodly appendage

    “he took serveral personal, narrow-minded attacks on his religion and turned them into a positive experience for himself and his country”

    I agree with that 100%.

    But no, touchstone, it’s personal experience, not talk radio, that shapes my opinions. “Tolerance isn’t a virtue” says the guy who then scorns “righties”. Yep, it’s good to have my points so well illustrated.

    I really don’t support a gay marriage ban. It used to be illegal to have sex with, or get married to, a member of a different race. Anti miscegenation laws and gay marriage bans are fruit of the same prejudices. Tester’s support for such prejudices are not a point in his favor.

  10. Turner

    If you’re going to quote me, noodly, please do it ethically. To leave out the per se in what I wrote is to twist my meaning.

    But I suppose that’s what you meant to do.

  11. noodly appendage

    “By itself; without consideration of extraneous factors. ”

    From wikidiktionary. didn’t have access to the oed.

    I put it in there “by itself” as “tolerance” just as you must have intended, of course, from your use of “per se”.

    You’re right of course, tolerance (see, I’ve put it by itself, without any consideration of outside factors) isn’t a virtue of the far left.

  12. A hero pulls somebody out of the Yellowstone, at great personal risk. After being elected, Ellison faced no consequences for his political stunt.

    I’d be willing to bet that on his campaign materials he didn’t proudly proclaim that if he was elected he wanted to be sworn in on the Koran.

  13. Eric, that’s hilarious. Only you could see the attacks on Ellison as a kind of “stunt” organized by the Minnesota Representative.

    By the way, it was common knowledge during the election that Ellison was a devout Muslim. The voters either didn’t care, or thought that it made him a better candidate.

    Standing up to bigotry and mass hysteria is as bold as pulling someone from a river, IMHO.

  14. gerbats

    He’s a fake,phony and a fraud. Most americans think words are more important than deeds.

  15. When Representative-elect Keith Ellison responded to Wolf Blitzer’s question (on CNN) concerning Representative Virgil Goode’s negative comments, with the statement, “I think he has a lot to learn about Islam!” … I, too, realized I needed to
    Learn more about Islam:

    It was Prophet Muhammad who said, “Whoever sees an abomination must straighten it with his hands.” Saddam Hussein repeated and relied upon this saying in his attack on Kuwait’s ruling family. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt depended upon this saying when they killed Anwar El Sadat. We must never imagine that such Muslims are being unnecessarily wicked …They are simply being faithful to their religion!

    From the President, to most religious leaders, to the average talk radio program, we are being told that Islam is a peaceful religion. It is said that bin Laden and the Taliban only represent an extremely radical Muslim fringe, which is not representative of true Islam.


    First of all, “Islam” means submission, not peace. The Arabic word, “islâm” is submission; from; “aslama”- to surrender, resign oneself; from the Syriac, “aðlem” – to surrender; from the stem “ðlem”- to be complete.

    This does not imply voluntary submission but includes a forced submission where the subjects will not comply. Historically Islam is not known for its peace movements, but for a uniquely Arab word, “jihad,” which means an offensive war intended to lead to the conversion of the infidel to Islam, or to his annihilation!

    Islam in the Arabic language and in the Qa’ran/Koran means total submission and obedience. However, the original meaning of “Islam” in the Arabic language is the acceptance of a view or a condition which was not previously accepted, that is the readiness of a person to take orders from god and to follow them. “Muslim” is a word taken from the word Islam, and applies to that person, who is ready to take orders from god and follow him without question.

    “Do they seek a deen other than the deen of Allah and to him all what is in the skies and in the earth have submitted willingly or forcefully and to Him they shall return. [Qur’an 3:83]”

    The word “Islam” was used in the Qur’an as a symbol for the word “deen,” revealed by the Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad stated that his teachings contain the teachings of all the previous prophets, and all divine commandments. When a person professes the belief in the truthfulness of Prophet Muhammad, and pledges to follow his message, he, in fact, stating his readiness to obey the orders of god unconditionally.

    From the Koran/Qur’an (“An English Interpretation of the Holy Quran with Full Arabic Text,” A. Yusuf Ali), “The deen [religion] before Allah is Islam. [Qur’an 3:19]. Whosoever seeks, other than Islam, a deen, it will not be accepted from him and he, in the Hereafter, is among the losers. [Qur’an 3:85].”

    The concept of “deen” involves four principles: 1) Subjugation, authority, and ruling; 2) Obedience and submission due to subjugation; 3) The method and the habit; and 4) Punishment, reward and judgment. Therefore, “deen” implies a comprehensive system of life that is composed of four parts: 1) The ruler ship and the authority belong to Allah only; 2) The obedience and submission are to Allah; 3) The comprehensive system (intellectual and practical) is established by this authority; and 4) The reward given by this authority (Allah) to those who followed the system and submitted to him and the punishment inflicted upon those who rebel against it and disobey it. Prophet Muhammad said: “Every human being is born in a state of pure nature; but through the influence of his parents, he may become non-Muslim.” Islam is a “divine” system, and with it Allah sealed all other religions, and made it a comprehensive system dealing with all aspects of human life (belief, intellectual, moral, and practical). This system is based on total submission to Allah alone, purifying worship to him only, and following the traditions (sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad.

    Therefore, when you hear people saying that Islam is a peaceful religion, know rather, that Islam is fighting a holy war for control of the world! That war was begun by Prophet Mohammed himself in the seventh century, and is still being carried on today by his followers through terrorism. These terrorists are not radicals or extremists, as the media continually labels them. Rather, these are Islamic fundamentalists who are true to their religion and the teachings of the Qu’ran, and who are following faithfully in the footsteps of the Prophet, Mohammed.

    As Abd El Schafi has said in his book (Behind The Veil: Unmasking Islam), “We must never imagine that such Muslims are being unnecessarily wicked. They are simply being faithful to their religion. The fact is never hidden as to what the proper attitude a good Muslim should have towards Christians and Jews. In fact, much of the incitement to violence and war in the whole of the Qu’ran is directed specifically against Jews/Christians who rejected what they felt to be the strange “god” that Prophet Mohammed was trying to preach. Prophet Muhammad and his successors initiated offensive wars against peaceful countries in order to impose Islam by force as well as to seize the abundance of these lands.” So, Islam was imposed upon Syria, Jordan, Palestine (Jerusalem), Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Iran, all of North Africa, some parts of India and China, and later Spain. So, it appears the “radical” fundamentalists are closer to historic Islam than those who profess to be followers of so-called “mainstream” version. Islam has always been, and continues to be a religion (a way of life) spread by force, not through peaceful means or persuasion.

    Islam was planted by Prophet Muhammad with the sword, not a philosophy or ethic of peace. It’s rather astonishing to learn just how cruel and brutal Prophet Muhammad was as he tortured his captives with fire, then killed them and took their wives as bond maids for himself, as well as for his companions. Following his death, these brothers-in-arms then fought each other in relentless, savage wars; competing for authority and out of deeply rooted hatred, Prophet Muhammad’s relatives and closest friends sacrificed and slaughtered each other!

    No wonder we see Moslems, these days, fighting with each other. In fact, these wars and hostilities spring from the very heart of the Islamic teachings, since it calls for the use of force to combat “wrongdoing,” … just as Prophet Muhammad’s relatives did with one another! It was Muhammad who said, “Whoever sees an abomination must straighten it with his hands.” Thus, Saddam Hussein repeated and relied upon this saying of Muhammad in his attack on Kuwait’s ruling family; and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt depended upon this saying when they killed Anwar El Sadat (a real man of peace).

    Therefore, when you hear people saying that Islam is a peaceful religion, know rather that Islam is fighting a holy war for control of the world! That is, the concept of an offensive war, to spread the faith, is a genuine Islamic concept; known as a Holy War for the sake of god. This, not peace, is the essence of Islam! That is, if there were sufficient military power available to Islamic countries, they would attack all other countries in order to force them to embrace Islam. The Qu’ran is the authoritative scripture for the Muslim, and here are a few quotes advocating this militancy toward the non-Muslim:

    #1) But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them. And seize them, beleaguer them. Lie in wait for the in every stratagem of war; but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah 9:5)

    #2) Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, even if they are of the people of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with will submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Surah 9:29)

    #3) Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive and struggle with your goods and your persons, in the Cause of Allah. (Surah 9:41)

    #4) The infidel is to be “killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land, and in the hereafter theirs will be an awful doom. (Surah 5:33)

    #5) Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth no aggressors. And slay them wherever you find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out. But if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving, merciful. (Surah 2:190-92)

    #6) Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day. Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah. ( Surah 2:29, 41)

    #7) Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who reject the faith do battle for the cause of evil. So fight ye against the friends of Satan. (Surah 4:76)

    Prophet Muhammad founded Islam with the sword; his followers maintained Islamic rule with the sword; subsequent generations have always spread Islam’s oppressive rule beyond the Arabian Peninsula with the sword. One cannot be a true follower of Islam without holding to the tenants of the Qu’ran, which also advocates forced submission to its rule. How can anyone who knows anything about Islam deny this? Why are so many, today, inclined to believe that Islam is a peaceful religion and not a militant movement, which desires to conquer the world through Jihad?

    Obviously there are political motives behind the President and his administration that have given rise to their many statements that Islam is a peaceful religion. Yet such is simply not the case. If Islamic terrorism is ever going to be defeated, people are going to have to face the fact that it is driven by a historic Muslim belief in “Holy War” as a means of spreading their religion.

    So then, now (today 1/5/07) that we finally have a Muslim (see definition above) in our House (of Representatives) … My CNN question, would be, “Representative Ellison, as a Muslim and ‘deemed’ follower and ‘true believer’ of the Qu’ran … Representative Ellison, to WHICH are you really true – #1 Your elected position, as the American people’s Representative (be they Muslim or NOT), or #2 to your religion’s more demanding and unrelenting requirements? … You, of course, can’t be both; so which is it, really?”

    And he would answer … in the popular and politically correct way, that, ”I was just being bigoted for having even thought to ask him such a question!” … So be it, but at least, I was thinking!

    It’s a hard,
    hard rain that’s gonna fall,


  16. Uh, the left and tolerance? Two great ideas that don’t go great together. The left is the most intolerant section of our society. By saying they are tolerant, they mean that they will tolerate any group or idea that is leftist. Try to get them to tolerate a Christan. Or a social conservative. This idea of tolerance is a joke anyway. If you believe in something then you have automatically excluded a whole group, namely the group that takes a different position. So being in a group is good. That means you believe something. You have an opinion. Therefore, All groups can’t be included in your world view. So the left thinks gays, animal lovers, tree huggers, and dope smokers are good. The right thinks that straits, hunters, paper mills, and drug free folks are great. They can’t include each other in their groups!

  17. I’m dying to see some reference where a lefty blogger or politician or thinker called for all Christians to be put in detention centers — like some prominent right bloggers did for liberals.

    I’m dying to see some reference where a lefty blogger or politician or thinker called conservatives “traitors,” calling criticism of the government “treason,” the way prominent right bloggers did for liberals.

    Show me where a lefty blogger or politician or thinker thought that straight, Christian, or logger sex should be illegal, and called for laws outlawing straight, Christian, or logger adoptions; denied straights, Christians, or loggers protection from workplace harassment or discrimination; called straights, Christians, or loggers societal pariahs, like many conservatives do to gays, liberals, and dissenters.

    At least I’m glad you admit you think tolerance is a “joke.”

    I admit I am intolerant — of incompetence, stupidity, hatred, and prejudice. In other words, traits that we all have control over. (And judging by your president, those are traits you apparently admire.)

  18. gerbats

    Touchstone is so above labeling anyone, until he mentions the President. You want our troops defeated in the war on terror or else you would support our forces. If the shoe fits wear it,traitor.

  19. There’s a world of difference between “tolerance” and “respect,” gerbats, something you folks apparently have trouble grasping. And remember, George Bush has earned through deed or word every criticism I’ve leveled at him.

    Also remember as you call me “traitor” that I’ve always fought for the US Constitution, the rule of law, and the United States. If that’s treason, you are worshiping an idol, my friend.

  20. gerbats

    What a bunch of crapola. You aren’t interested in protecting this country or it’s people. You just think “Bush sucks”.
    You think fighting for the Country is shooting off a bunch of words.
    Touchstone, my friend, when they come to cut our heads off, yours will hit the ground right after mine, even though you hate President Bush.

    I said President Bush cause I know it really bothers you.

  21. What a bunch of crapola. You aren’t interested in protecting this country or it’s people.


    –I’m against the Iraq war, which the NIS found to be creating terrorists and threats to the US.
    –I’m against suspending habeas corpus and promoting unlimited executive power, which, if unchecked will turn us from a democracy into a dictatorship.
    –I’m a strong proponent of battling terrorism, especially al Qaeda, which has been put onto a back burner for Iraq.


    Seriously, everything the Bush administration has done has made us less safe and for what? To give the president more power than the Constitution grants him? It’s like a game to these people.

    If you support the President — and his escalation — it’s you who doesn’t care about security and the American people. As the body bags come rolling in, remember that. It’s you who’s at fault.

  22. gerbats

    No attacks in US. Terrorists created and killed in IRAQ.
    No suspension of Habeas Corpus (another liberal straw dog ).
    Latest news indicates we’re looking and killing terrorist all over. You are not a strong proponent of battling terrorism. You just hate President Bush. Why don’t you just admit it.
    Your reference to “body bags come rolling in” is sick.

  23. Considering our war on terror has pretty much not resulted in any significant arrest or detention of real terrorist, the attacks in US argument is moot. It’s likely 9/11 was an outlier, an exception.

    As for “terrorists” in Iraq, al Qaeda is hardly a presence. And, thank you very much, I’m not fan of US deaths there.

    No suspension of Habeas Corpus? And what’s a “straw dog”? Is that something you smoke when you write comments?

    I hate president Bush. I admit it.

    Sorry if you can’t handle the truth about the body bags.

  24. gerbats

    I am glad you were finally able to admit you hate President Bush. You can now begin your recovery from liberal insanity.
    Straw Dog is an expression,you can find it in the dictionary,its that thick book with all the dust on it from lack of use.

  25. “Finally” admitted I hate Bush? And you think that’s a problem? Do you know why I hate Bush? Maybe it’s because he sides on every issue against me and my family with big corporations.

    My taxes go up; theirs go down. Industrial waste is dumped into my air, water, and soil; they walk away counting their billfolds. My children’s healthcare costs spiral out of control; they tuck my money in their pocket and still deny me adequate medical attention.

    And then there’s the war and the constitution. I happen to have a deep respect and affection for the US Constitution and our national freedoms. I also want my country to be safe. That’s why I hate President Bush.

  26. gerbats

    When have you or anyone in the USA ever been denied medical attention? Or do you want me to pay for it.
    Your kid’s healthcare costs and mine also spiral out of control because people in our generation seem to demand that the government pay the doctor’s bill every time they go to the doctor for anything.
    You sound like a parent, did you teach your children to be responsible for their well being or to rely on the government.
    You probably don’t hate President Bush but point to him as an easy target.
    I’ll bet we are all on the same page when it comes to loving our country and wanting our kids and grandkids to be safe.
    Politics always complicates everything.
    Bottom line to me is do what we have to do to make sure my kids and Touchstone’s kids don’t have to fight here in the USA. That is the reason why we have our guys fighting in such Godforsaken places around the world. They understand, they make the sacrifice “over there” so Touchstone and Gerbats can word battle over here. Get a grip.

  27. (a) Health care is expensive b/c it’s more profitable for insurance companies to discourage claims with bureaucratic quagmires and high deductibles than it is to fund long-term health.

    US per-capita expedidures on health care is almost three times it is in other countries, yet our health is significantly worse. That is, I pay more for less service.

    (b) I am a parent. I teach my kids to deal squarely with others and expect the same in return, and not put up with fools, cheats, liars, and thieves.

    I.e., the insurance industry.

    Honestly I don’t understand why people fall over themselves to defend these scumbags who put profit over product, money over health.

    (c) I admit I don’t know President Bush, so it’s true I can’t honestly hate the man, but I do despise his public demeanor and the man or administration who would implement the policies he has. It’s true he’s an easy target in that way.

    (d) I agree whole-heartedly we want the same things.

    (e) If you think we’re safer because we’re in Iraq, then I imagine you’re the kind of guy who thinks going around swatting hornets’ nests with a baseball bat gets rid of hornets. IMHO, you find the nest, you sneak up on it at night and you poison the hell out of it. No stings. No one gets hurt who didn’t deserve it.

    PS – Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism before we went in. It still doesn’t really. Most of the violence we see is religious and nationalist anti-American sentiment expressed — that kind of violence didn’t exist before we went in. And the same radical Islamic terrorist groups exist. So now the world is more dangerous. Get a grip yerself.

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