Thanks to subscriber, Vicki Armstrong, for pointing me to this mind-bending story. MediaMatters reports that Keith Ellison, who won the first Congressional seat ever held by an American Muslim, was interviewed by CNN’s Glen Beck on November 14th. As background, Ellison’s district contains the largest Somali community in the U.S. This community gave him solid voting support.
But listen to the Islamophobia, barely concealed hysteria and utter ignorance in this colloquy:
BECK:…May we have five minutes here where we’re just politically incorrect and I play the cards face up on the table?
ELLISON: Go there.
BECK: OK. No offense, and I know Muslims. I like Muslims. I’ve been to mosques. I really don’t believe that Islam is a religion of evil. I — you know, I think it’s being hijacked, quite frankly.
With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying, “Let’s cut and run.” And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, “Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.”
And I know you’re not. I’m not accusing you of being an enemy, but that’s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.
It’s truly an astonishing interview for its absurdity. Beck demands that Ellison “prove” that he is “not working with our enemies.” And follows that with “I know you’re not. I’m not accusing of being an enemy.” Well, excuse me–you certainly are accusing him of being “an enemy.”
And since when has being a native born American Muslim meant that you were a member of Al Qaeda or an Islamic extremist? As for Beck’s claim that “a lot of Americans will feel that way,” this is utter rubbish. Only Fox News viewers feel that way and they aren’t even nearly a majority of Americans. As for the Americans who do demand that a member of Congress prove he’s not in cahoots with a foreign enemy, well, Keith Ellison owes them no explanation. The demand is repulsive and beneath his dignity to respond to.
I have to say that Ellison handled Beck deftly and far better than I might’ve. I would’ve jumped down his throat when he said “You are saying ‘Let’s cut and run.'” The congressman waited patiently till Beck had immolated himself on his own hatred and suspicion and then coolly replied:
Well, let me tell you, the people of the Fifth Congressional District know that I have a deep love and affection for my country. There’s no one who is more patriotic than I am. And so, you know, I don’t need to — need to prove my patriotic stripes.
And just in case you might be thinking that Beck couldn’t stoop any lower, he does:
You come from a district that is heavily immigrant with Somalians [sic]. And I think it’s wonderful, honestly, I think it is really a good sign that you are a — you could be an icon to show Europe, this is the way you integrate into a country. I think the Somalians coming out and voting is a very good thing.
I can remember back to the 1960s when white politicians used to try to prove their racial bona fides by saying things like that: “I like Negroes, I know a lot of Negroes, some of ’em are my friends…” It doesn’t come out sounding any better hearing it 40 years later.
I complained to CNN (you can too) asking whether their journalistic standards permitted their correspondents to demand that elected federal officials prove they are not in league with our nation’s enemies; especially when the journalist, McCarthy-like, presents not a scintilla of evidence that this might be the case. It seems to me that this type of question, whether coming from the right or left, should be treif. We’ll see what and whether they respond.