In Defense of Muslim Americans - Against Hatred and
1. Keith Ellison: In defense of Muslim Americans
(James Capehart in the Washington Post)
2. Video - Rep Ellison Tears Up At King Hearings While
Telling Story Of Muslim 9 11 First Responder
3. Dingell to Peter King: Don't Become the Next McCarthy
(Shani O. Hilton in ColorLines)
Keith Ellison: In defense of Muslim Americans
by James Capehart
Posted at 3:56 PM ET, 03/10/2011
I was standing behind the press cordon at the bullying
conference in the East Room of the White House when the news
came over Twitter that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) broke
down in tears at the House Homeland Security Committee
hearings on radicalization in the Muslim community and that
community's response. Ever since the problematic committee
chairman, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), announced his
controversial hearings, emotions have been running high.
As I wrote on Monday, while King is right to worry about and
call attention to radicalization grabbing a foothold among
some in the Muslim community, he has ignored or eviscerated
evidence of other forms of Made-in-the-U.S.A. radicalism.
But when you see the first Muslim American elected to
Congress become overwhelmed by the task of defending the
patriotism of fellow Muslims, you can see how deeply the
tenor and tone of King's comments in the past and leading up
to today's hearings have cut.
Let me close with a story, but remember that it's only
one of many American stories that could be told.
Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a 23-year-old paramedic, a
New York City police cadet and a Muslim American. He was
one of those brave first responders who tragically lost
their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks almost a
After the tragedy, some people tried to smear his
character solely because of his Islamic faith. Some
people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in
league with the attackers only because he was Muslim. It
was only when his remains were identified that these
lies were fully exposed. 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.
You're emotionally dead if after watching the video you feel
nothing, not even a pang of empathy, for Ellison.
Unfortunately, many of you won't. According to a Gallup poll
released yesterday, only 53 percent of those surveyed said
they believed Muslim Americans are "supportive of the United
States." That's 47 percent too few, if you ask me.
Questioning the patriotism of an individual is one thing.
Questioning an entire class of people on the issue is wrong.
[Jonathan Capehart is an editorial writer for The Post,
specializing in national politics and environmental issues.
Capehart joined the editorial board in 2007. Prior to
joining The Post, he was a member of the New York Daily
News' editorial board from 1993 to 2000. He then became
National Affairs Columnist for Bloomberg News from 2000 to
2001, and left to work as a policy adviser to Michael
Bloomberg in his successful campaign for Mayor of New York
City. He returned to the Daily News as deputy editor of the
editorial page from 2002 to 2005.
Capehart and the Daily News editorial board won the 1999
Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing for their editorial
series on the Apollo Theater in Harlem.]
Rep Ellison Tears Up At King Hearings While Telling Story Of
Muslim 9 11 First Responder
news clip version:
Dingell to Peter King: don't Become the Next McCarthy
by Shani O. Hilton
March 10 2011
Homeland Security Committee Chair Peter King kicked off his
controversial hearings on "The Extent of Radicalization in
the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response"
this morning with a panel that included Reps. John Dingell
(D-Mich.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.).
The Long Island Republican opened the hearings by defending
them from detractors who have said King is the real radical
and that his hearings will damage the government's
relationship with Muslim Americans. King insisted the
hearings were "the logical response" to the government's
increased efforts to thwart domestic terror plots. He also
called on "responsible Muslim leaders" to work harder to
Ellison, who is Muslim, took issue with King's assertion
during his own statement, saying, "Violent extremism is a
serious concern to all Americans." "It's true that some
individuals, including some who are Muslim, are violent
extremists," Ellison offered in his statement, but "when you
assign their violent actions to the entire community, you
assign collective blame to the whole group."
Dingell, who represents a state with a significant Muslim
American community, suggested King's hearings verge on
McCarthyism. He said that, as former chair of a House
investigative committee, he kept a picture of Sen. Joe
McCarthy - the man who convened anti-communist hearings in
the 1950s that smeared hundreds with unsubstantiated claims
- to remind himself of what he didn't want to become. He
urged King to be careful that "we do not blot the good name
of Arabs or Muslims or other Americans en masse."
Ellison also insisted that working with the Muslim community
is of critical importance to national security, since both
Attorney General Eric Holder and independent studies have
concluded that Muslim Americans have contributed greatly to
foiling terrorism plots. Ellison said, "I am concerned that
the focus of today's hearing may increase suspicion of the
Muslim community, making us all a little less safe."
While concluding his statement, Ellison struggled through
tears to tell the story of Mohammad Salman Hamdani, a 9/11
first responder who was killed trying to help people escape
from the World Trade Center, though he was initially viewed
with suspicion due to his faith.
According to a piece in the New York Times, "After Mr.
Hamdani, 23, disappeared on Sept. 11, ugly rumors
circulated: he was a Muslim and worked in a lab; he might
have been connected to a terrorist group. Months later the
truth came out. Mr. Hamdani's remains had been found near
the north tower, and he had gone there to help people he did
The King hearings continue through the afternoon, with
testimony from Muslim American community leaders. King has
said that he was outraged in the weeks following 9/11 by the
way in which Long Island Muslim community leaders failed to
denounce radical voices whom, he says, supported terrorism
against the United States. The hearings are meant to explore
both the extent of so-called radicalization in Muslim
communities nationwide and the responsibility of community
leaders for challenging that.
[Shani O. Hilton is the Washington, D.C. correspondent for
Colorlines.com. She covers the intersection of congressional
and White House politics and racial justice. Shani also
works as the associate editor of CampusProgress.org. A
native of central California, Shani earned a degree in
journalism from Howard University. Her writing has appeared
in The American Prospect, TheAtlantic.com, The Root, and
other publications. She also maintains a personal blog where
she muses on pop culture, race, and feminism.]
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