Friday, December 07, 2007

Keith Ellison: First Muslim in Congress Makes His Mark

By Ali Eteraz, Posted December 7, 2007.

Thanks to post-9/11 hysteria, American Muslims are one of the most ostracized minority groups in the U.S.

Eleven months have passed since America's first Muslim congressman -- Keith Ellison, from Minnesota's fifth district -- was elected to office. In that time he has exposed bigotry in the media and Congress, and served as a bridge for American relations with the Muslim world.

Throughout his meteoric rise from an anonymous state legislator, Ellison has had unanimous support among American Muslims. Ellison is now using that goodwill to bring a minority group that has been demonized, politically apathetic and often extremely socially conservative into the American political mainstream (and without being pushy, towards the progressive wing of the Democratic Party).

Ever since Ellison's election, much of the focus has been on the venom that greeted him. He received death threats from what he calls "some crazy right-wingers," and last November, Glenn Beck, who regularly has the lowest ratings of the various CNN commentators, brought Ellison onto his show only to ask him, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies." Soon after, Virgil Goode, a Republican congressman from Virginia, tried to turn Ellison's election into a fear-mongering campaign, telling his constituents that, unless "the Virgil Goode position on immigration" was adopted, there would be many more Muslim lawmakers.

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