Representative Keith Ellison (D, MN), the Muslim member of Congress, has taken full advantage of the recent Congressional hearings on the radicalization of Islam to market himself as a prophet of tolerance amongst an embittered and ignorant mass of bigots. But for those paying attention, Ellison's current avalanche of public appearances has demonstrated not only a dangerous naiveté about the threat posed by radicals within his own faith, but has also unintentionally provided the best arguments in favor of the very hearings he condemns as intolerant.
Take Ellison's own testimony before the Congressional panel assembled by Representative Peter King (R, NY). Emotional from the opening sentence, Ellison referenced the number of Muslim Americans who died on September 11th before concluding with the anecdotal, yet heroic story of Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a Muslim American who lost his life that terrible day as a first responder.
Squeezing tears from his eyes and with voice cracking, Ellison lectured, "Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be defined as a member of an ethnic group or a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his fellow citizens."
Agreed. And it will be, thanks in no small part to the hearings Mr. Ellison found so objectionable. Yes, though Hamdani's heroism had already been chronicled in the New York Times and permanently enshrined in the Patriot Act (a part of the story Keith Ellison curiously omitted in his testimony), it is now forever preserved in the Congressional record as a result of these very hearings.
And that, despite the left's allegations of a bigoted, xenophobic witch hunt, is precisely the motivation behind having such inquiries. There is no questioning the fact that a great many Muslims living in the United States appreciate the blessings of Western society rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic. To them, their allegiance to the Islamic faith does not compel them to war against non Muslim cultures. But only fools would fail to acknowledge the cancerous strand of Islam taught and propagated around the world by radical clerics and Imams hell-bent on the destruction of Israel and the West.
While acknowledging its presence, Ellison blames this phenomenon on radical fanatics who take the Koran out of context. "They're not getting it from the Koran," he told Bill Maher. When Maher -- an equal opportunity antagonist of organized religion -- countered by asking where these fanatics were finding their mad inspiration, Ellison explained, "Like any ideologue, they will take things out of context to do what they want to do. If you listen to terrorist rhetoric, Bill, what they do is they cite politics, they cite political grievances. They don't really use too much religion."
Fair enough. Of course, the problem in Ellison's defense is that unlike other world religions, Islam is simultaneously a political and religious order. Sharia Law stands in stark contrast to the concept of separation of church and state. After all, the Prophet Mohammed didn't have much success as a preacher. Only when he became a warrior and turned to subjugation and conquest did he see any substantial growth in Islamic conversions.
The question then of whether Keith Ellison, Mohammed Salman Hamdani and other Muslims who preach religious pluralism are the true followers of the Koran, or whether the true disciples of Mohammed are those radical clerics who preach the message of supremacy and domination is a matter of some debate. But the importance that distinguishing between the two groups has on our national security is not.
Because those who use Islam as an impetus for mass murder, the ones who would kill us if we do not adhere to their ideology, are the real bigots. And they are so committed to their crusade that they are willing to murder people of their own faith -- people like Hamdani and yes, even Keith Ellison -- if they stand in their way.
That is what the King hearings were meant to illuminate. And it's why we need more of them, asking whether we have a problem in this country (as they do in Europe and around the globe) with the infiltration of radical Islamic teachings into American mosques and Muslim communities.
Given that the killers of Mohammed Salman Hamdani -- the 9/11 hijackers -- attended and drew inspiration from such mosques right here under our noses, that seems like a question anyone crying over Hamdani's tragic death should be demanding, not obstructing an answer to.
Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. Email email@example.com or visit www.peterheck.com.
corrected 10:48 AM EDT. Ellison is not the only Muslim member of Congress