Sunday, December 13, 2015

The most prominent Muslim elected official in America sees a ‘message of hope’ in Trump’s ‘weakness’

    Sunday, December 13, 2015   No comments

Keith Ellison, the most prominent Muslim elected official in America, was having a pretty good day.
Never mind that the Republican front-runner in the presidential contest — Donald Trump — had proposed to temporarily bar all people of the congressman’s faith from entering the United States, roughly a quarter of the world’s population. Never mind that his House colleague — Indiana Democratic Rep. Andre Carson, the only other Muslim in Congress — received another death threat. And never mind that a Republican colleague — Iowa Rep. Steve King — was, at that very moment, questioning his patriotism in the press, saying the Detroit-born progressive Democrat has not sufficiently denounced Sharia law. Ellison had greeted King with a smile several times that day, even shaking his hand.

But the congressman’s routine belied the chaos engulfing Muslims around the country. Following the California shooting by a couple who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, anti-Muslim violence appears
to be escalating. A shop owner in New York City was savagely beaten last weekend by a stranger promising to “kill Muslims,” while a Muslim man praying and playing volleyball in a San Francisco Bay area park was struck by a woman saying he was “deceived by Satan.” In Philadelphia, a severed pig’s head was discovered outside a mosque, interrupting morning prayers.

Yet this is not so extraordinary, Carson and Ellison note. They have faced multiple threats on their lives since arriving in Congress. Each has received police protection for periods of time while on the job. They say they trust the Capitol Police, which is investigating the most recent threat against Carson, to sort things out.

Ellison, who called optimism his “weakness,” admitted he might be deluding himself.

“It might be better to see things only as they are, as opposed to seeing the positive spin on stuff,” he mused. “I am optimistic. But I tend to be right! I mean, if you look at history, why not be optimistic? … The only reason to go pessimistic is if we’re not doing nothing about what we’re facing. But we are, we are.”

“You know, you can’t control when you’re coming or going out of this world,” he said of the threats. “So I don’t really worry about it. Never occurs to me.”

Trump’s rise is a painful reminder to U.S. Muslims that some Americans remain uncomfortable with them — more than half have a “somewhat” or “very unfavorable” view of Islam, according to one poll taken earlier this year. Forty-two percent of Republicans and 38 percent of GOP primary voters support Trump’s plan to temporarily prevent Muslims from entering the country (although 57 percent of Americans oppose it).

Ellison, an African-American convert to Islam, has faced this discomfort from colleagues in the House.

After Ellison’s election in 2006, for example, former Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) called on constituents to embrace strict immigration laws, lest more Muslims get elected to Congress and choose to be sworn in on the Koran. (Ellison did this, sparking controversy on the right.)  source


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