Keith Ellison’s Tears And Epistemic Closure

Rep. Peter King’s hearings on “radicalization” of the American Muslim community, and his contention that the community doesn’t cooperate with law enforcement, was both a waste of time and tax dollars. The affair didn’t produce a single insight into the actual and urgent issue of radicalization and extremism.

If King expected to come out of hearings as some sort of hero, he failed. Two of his witnesses offered largely anecdotal evidence which didn’t support the premise of his hearings and another embarrassingly implied that only people who have something to hide seek legal counsel.

Los Angeles County Sherriff Lee Baca reiterated yet again the point that the Muslim community in Los Angeles has done a lot to help his agency combat all sorts of crime, a point that undermines the case that Muslims have adopted some sort of ‘stop snitchin’ mentality.

The undisputed hero of the day was Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, who stole the headlines away from King after offering an emotional testimony in which he shed tears recounting the story of a dead 9/11 responder who some accused of being in on the conspiracy for the simple fact that he was Muslim.

Hearings that were supposed to make the country suspicion of their brown-skinned doctors and cab drivers actually produced the opposite result. The story Ellison recounted stole the show and whatever anti-Muslim narrative some of the hearing’s biggest supporters were hoping for, went with it.

That couldn’t stand. Some sort of controversy had to be manufactured to put the narrative back on the right. Ace conservative reporters took to the task of looking for that controversy. Naturally, their first tool was Google. The National Review Online’s Matthew Shaffer took to the internet, found that only one newspaper backed up Ellison’s story and concluded in a piece that the Congressman was a bigot. Wait, what?

Follow the logic here. After doing some searching around on the internet, Shaffer could only find a New York Post article that cast suspicion on the 9/11 hero. Therefore, Ellison was wrong. No, in fact, he is a bigot. Because the testimony he gave wasn’t backed up by much proof.

The problem, of course, is that had Shaffer used LexisNexis, he would have seen that other media outlets had in fact reported on the issue, including the New York Times and the New Yorker. After these other articles were brought to his attention, he issued a correction. In typical conservative style, however, he did so by attacking those who asked him to be set the record straight.

The damage, however, had already been done. The original article was picked up by other conservative sites, including by some of the vilest, most contemptible people on the face of the planet. Rep. Louie Gohmert, of terror baby fame, actually read the article on the House floor. In less than 24 hours, a lie created by a lazy writer became the narrative that was being used to discredit Ellison. The lie is now part of the Congressional Record.

The next hatchet job was by the Daily Caller’s Matthew Boyle. Boyle’s piece actually makes less sense the Shaffer’s. The article is billed as an exclusive but it seems that it’s only exclusive in the sense that only an exclusive number of brainless and logically-impaired people would actually make the argument that Boyle is making.

Boyle charges that the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a Muslim advocacy group, gave House democrats talking points to use during the King hearings. In order for this to be a story, you need to ask two important questions: First, Is there something wrong with an advocacy group briefing lawmakers? The answer is obvious. But since the group is a Muslim group, this very routine practice of giving lawmakers talking points is some nefarious conspiracy.

The second question. Did the lawmakers actually use the talking points? Boyle asks the people involved and they all deny any coordination. Ellison, who Boyle says “regurgitated all the MPAC talking points” denies that he even received the memo. At this point, the story is dead.

But being the enterprising reporter that he is, Boyle investigates some more. He sees similarities between this leaked memo and some of the questions that Democratic members of the committee raised. At this point, he once again has a story. If lawmakers echoed an advocacy group’s talking points word for word, it might interest some people. But that didn’t happen. So Boyle concludes that when Rep. Al Green brought up the KKK, it was clearly because of the fact that the MPAC memo told lawmakers to suggest that the hearings hurt our national security.

The fact that Al Green is the son of a Christian minister, and most likely has some knowledge of the KKK, as well as the fact that he has a large Muslim constituency in Houston, isn’t why he bought up the KKK. It was because MPAC told him to do so by suggesting to lawmakers to highlight the threat that the hearings posed to national security.

Every single point that Boyle sees as possible collaboration is actually a point that the editors of some of the largest newspapers in the country made. Whatever memo MPAC might have been spreading likely contained the same language as the memo of every other group opposed to the hearings. Those opposed to the hearings had a very coordinated message. That’s one reason why the hearing produced nothing of substance.

That bothers conservatives a lot.

The Washingtons Post’s Dana Milibank has, in my opinion, written the absolute best piece on the hearings.


Newt Comes Out As A Muslim-Baiter
July 22, 2010, 7:56 pm
Filed under: Politics, Religion | Tags: , ,

Early this week, disgraced former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich warned that “a commitment to religious freedom and God-given rights is being replaced by a secular oppression…”  Just hours after those words appeared on Human Events, Gingrich issued a statement forcefully opposing the construction of a community center and mosque in downtown Manhattan, two blocks from Ground Zero.

Gingrich’s affinity for religious freedom and his belief in God-given rights it would seem, doesn’t extend to Americans who are Muslim.  Such outright bigotry and blatant hypocrisy from Gingrich, an avid historian and former college professor, is even more repulsive when you consider his reasoning.

“There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York,” he writes, “so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.”  Gingrich, who has been railing against the so-called secular socialist machine for trying to take religion out of the public square, and who, like most conservatives, decries the influence of foreign law, wants the U.S. to apply the same standards on Muslims that Saudi Arabia applies to those who are not Muslim.

That’s rich.

As the Washington Monthly‘s Steve Benen, after noting that conservatives continually justify despicable acts of torture on the premise that other nations and non-state actors employ such tactics, points out, “We’re not supposed to lower ourselves to the levels of those we find offensive.”

Gingrich’s clarion call continues: “Those Islamists and their apologists who argue for ‘religious toleration’ are arrogantly dishonest.”  What makes them Islamists, apologists or even dishonest? Gingrich doesn’t say but if you ask him, he’ll likely tell you about the Katusha rockets that Hamas has fired into Sderot or how Iran is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.  Anything and everything to take the subject away from the “religious freedom and God-given rights” to which American Muslims are entitled.

To understand Gingrich’s paranoia that “America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization,” one must delve deeply into the polarizing, overzealous and paranoid minds of professional Muslim-baiters and the politicians who depend on their support and cater to their illiberal demands.

Many of them are monomaniacs who have made it their life’s mission to defeat Islam and “expose” all Muslims as radical Islamofascists.  If one asks them for evidence to support their claim that no Muslim can be trusted, they will likely mention a purported plot by Muslim Brotherhood operatives to destroy America from within.  The Council on American Islamic Relations and their intern/spies are routinely placed at the epicenter of the evil conspiracy.

Among these folks, any and all Muslims who “refudiate” such insane theories — who denounce violence and terror, profess their loyalty to the American system, take part in the democratic process and who have assimilated into the American landscape — are cleverly employing taqiyya, which, as any Muslim-baiter would tell you, is religiously sanctioned deception.  The same was said about Jews decades ago and anti-Semites once evoked the specter of “Judeo-Bolshevism” the way that Muslim-baiters and politicians like Gingrich today warn of “Islamofascism.” But none of those awful facts really matter, even to a historian such as Gingrich, because facts have long been accused of being part of the secular-socialist machine.

Gingrich’s stand against the mosque project and his attempt to smear its backers as “Islamists” and apologists earns him his anti-Jihad bona fides, and with that, the support of an increasingly mistrustful and hateful electorate which lives off of tying American Muslims to every heinous act that occurs anywhere that remotely sounds Islamic.  In this world, if the media fails to make the connection, they are clearly part of the soft-jihad.

Here is the key: The connection rarely has to be solid.  In fact, the more specious the connection, the more the Muslim-baiter will be seen by others as a patriot and an enterprising investigative reporter.  For instance, the New York TimesRobert Wright highlights one smear that has been contrived to defame the man leading the effort to bring the project to fruition.  The imam behind the project is not to be trusted because conservatives say that “[his] wife has an uncle who used to be ‘a leader’ of a mosque that now has a Web site that links to the Web site of an allegedly radical organization.”  If you can’t keep up with all of that nonsense, then you’re complacent about the Jihad.

Any and all statements against violence made by Muslims must always be placed in the right conservative context: scare quotes.  Gingrich does this masterfully.  That simple act in effect says that Muslims who preach peace are actually jihadists.

As Gingrich and his buddies believe, either you are with them or you are, through your dhimmitude, a proto-Jihadist.  No, you’re worse since you probably support a second genocide against Jews.  (Prominent Muslim-baiters have argued that Muslims instigated the Nazi holocaust!)  Now that you’ve learned all of these made up facts, you simply do not have an excuse to not fight! Wake up and oppose the “Ground Zero Mosque” the “Islamization of America” and prove to those who hate the freedom in America that those freedoms, as Newt argues, don’t actually apply to all Americans.

Evo Morales Scores Again
December 7, 2009, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Election, Latin America, Politics | Tags: , ,

Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, has secured reelection by a landslide. In fact, the victory gives him an even greater mandate than the one he previously enjoyed.  Unofficial results show that Morales received 63 percent of the vote, an increase of almost 10 percentage points from his win in 2005.

His main rival, Manfred Reyes, exceeded analysts’ predictions and garnered 25 percent of the vote.  Not surprisingly, Reyes performed much better in Departments that have long been hostile to Morales.  In Santa Cruz Department, the capital of the countries opposition, Reyes won an estimated 44 percent of the vote to Morales’ 39 percent.
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Different Tactic, Same Goal
December 3, 2009, 2:26 am
Filed under: Health Care, Politics | Tags: , ,

For months, Republican in Congress have been hell-bent on undermining President Obama’s most important domestic policy goal: health care reform. But while their goal is the same, House and Senate Republicans have employed different strategies.

In the House, the Republican campaign has largely rested on obfuscation. Death panels, sex clinics and the like. The tactic, though effective, ultimately failed. The House passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act with a 220-215 vote. Rep. Joseph Cao from Louisiana, who represents one of the most Democratic-leaning districts in the country, was the lone Republican casting an aye vote.

In the Senate, the Republican campaign rests largely on obstruction. Much like in the House, Senate Republicans have made it abundantly clear that they will do what it takes to delay and potentially derail health care reform. But while they spew their fair share of misinformation, their opposition ultimately rests not on having a persuasive argument, but on using rules of the Senate.

On Monday, this tactic was clarified when the office of Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire sent a letter to Senate Republicans instructing them on how to obstruct the health care reform debate. Gregg advises Republicans to use procedural tactics to do what House Republicans could not do.

That’s not right. Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Reid, must push health care reform forward in spite of such tactics. As the Boston Globe puts it, “Democrats shouldn’t let it happen. This is a test of their unity and leadership.”

The Hill has more on Gregg’s letter.

Orly Taitz Looses Her Cool
August 4, 2009, 9:22 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags: ,

On Monday, MSNBC hosts David Shuster and Tamron Hall interviewed Orly Taitz, one of the leaders of the so-called “birther” movement.  Taitz, a California attorney (her law degree is from an online academy) and dentist, was brought on to discuss President Obama’s supposed “Kenyan Birth Certificate“.  Taitz lost her cool.  What ensued was nauseating and yet, a bit magical.

China’s Uighurs Face Fasting Restrictions
September 11, 2008, 5:48 am
Filed under: Politics, Religion | Tags: , , , ,

The restrictions against Ramadan continue in Xinjiang. I blogged about  this a few days ago.  Here is Al-Jazeera’s take on it:

Ramadan is the most important time of the year, a time of spiritual reawakening that, while at times difficult, is never the less a duty and obligation for all able bodied Muslims.  One hopes that the government in Xinjiang will soon recognize that moving against Ramadan is a counterproductive measure, as it obviously creates more resentment among a restive population.  This crackdown might sever as the impetus for a concerted effort my Uighurs to demand even greater autonomy, something China is obviously opposed to.

Perhaps a Sign of things to come: Italy Will Pay Reparations to Libya
September 2, 2008, 3:49 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , ,


Though unlikely to open the floodgates towards some sort of reparations throughout the developing world, Italy’s decision to compensate Libya for its occupation of the country is interesting. It remains to be seen what action other countries, or at least their publics, will now take given that Italy apologized for its colonial past.  Of course, any political move of this nature is quid pro quo and so while Italy will pay Libya, Libya will undoubtedly be expected to make some concessions of its own. Earlier in the week, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi proclaimed that his country would abandon its socialist policies and embrace the free market system. If that is the case, or even if Libya does decide to embrace the market, the 5 billion it is set to receive from Italy will be chump change in comparison to what multinational corporations will be taking out of the country in the decades to come.

From Time: Italy Pays Reparations to Libya

One of the perks of one-man rule is picking your national holidays. Libya’s Col. Muammar Gaddafi has invented a few fêtes for his North African nation since seizing power in a 1969 coup. Three years ago, during stalled negotiations with Italy over reparations for Rome’s colonial rule in Libya, he added another: Oct. 7 became “Vendetta Against Italians Day.”

Now, in an unprecedented act of contrition by a former European colonial power, Italy has formally apologized for its past injustices during its 30-year reign in Libya early last century, and agreed to pay $5 billion in reparations to Tripoli. Gaddafi promptly declared Aug 30 – the day the deal was inked in – Libyan-Italian Friendship Day.