Ellison risks becoming as intolerant as those he rails against

By Dwight Hobbes
Contributing Writer

U.S. Congressional Representative Keith Ellison has become a Muslim mirror image of reactionary right-wingers. I refer to the kind of Bible-thumping, soapbox grandstanders who condemn as hell-bound heathens and disloyal traitors to the nation anyone who says anything that happens to rub these self-righteous soldiers for God and country the wrong way.

There is no such thing as free speech so far such myopic blowhards go, not unless it’s pleasing to their ears. And they will twist things, misconstruing and misstating the case until the truth has been bent like a pretzel so that they are right and anyone who even thinks of disagreeing with them is wrong.

For instance, in September, waxing melodramatic on national television, radio, newspapers and every other media he could play to, Ellison decried as “proponents of religious bigotry” those who oppose the proposal to build an Islamic center and mosque near the site of the 2001 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in NYC.

Never mind that quite understandably wounded sensibilities were part of the overall issue — if you had a problem with the proposal, you had a problem with religious toleration. Period. As of just last month, he is at it again, braying like a knee-jerk, arch conservative to spew a narrow-minded mentality dictating basically, “If you don’t support my religion, you’re in the wrong.”

This time he truly put his foot in it, castigating, of all people, icon journalist and political commentator Juan Williams, an individual who was making strides in the media for minorities long before Ellison came along to ride on the coattails of Williams and other groundbreakers to shine as one more “first” who supposedly reflects social progress.

Even if he didn’t owe his freshly minted high profile to people like Juan Williams, Ellison still has a lot of gall slinging mud at Williams for simply sharing his honest reflections in saying over Fox News, “I’m not a bigot.

You know the kind of books I’ve written about the Civil Rights Movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

He didn’t say they don’t have the right be on a damn plane. He just stated that it makes him think twice. Williams went on to qualify his remarks, saying he had to be “careful” to stress that he was not talking about all Muslims when he criticized some, and that America was not at war with Islam.

He also compared blaming all Muslims for the actions of extremists to blaming all Christians for the actions of Timothy McVeigh. None of this cut any ice. NPR, covering its behind from politically correct headhunters, fired Williams from his job there.

Ellison declared, “Sadly, Juan Williams has taken a bat to all the work he did around civil rights. I really feel he has dishonored his legacy to that extent.” When he has made the quality of contributions Williams has made to this country, Ellison will have the right to make such moral judgments.

As it is, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

The whole thing didn’t turn out too badly, at least not as badly for Williams, who was given a three-year contract to host The O’Reilly Factor on FoxNews.com within 24 hours of his firing from NPR. Americans did not fare as well who respect our right to be free from thought policing by politicians who believe the louder they shout about others’ supposed moral shortcomings, the more courageous a crusader it makes them.

The more Ellison keeps dragging his religion out, proselytizing instead of being a responsible statesman, the more clearly he reveals himself to be a special interest representative instead of the congressman he was elected to serve as. And the longer these tirades of his materialize at the drop of a hat, the more he personifies the very intolerant mindset he claims to rail against.

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to dhobbes@spokesman-recorder.com.