Minnesota Not-So-Nice?

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Minnesota politician Keith Ellison grabbed headlines back in September, when he won the Democratic primary to replace Martin Sabo. The 14-termer Sabo represented the heart of Minneapolis, a district that voted 71-28 for Kerry over Bush. That, apparently, was that—Ellison, a former Nation of Islam activist, would become the first Muslim to serve in Congress.

While polling indicates that Minnesota Democrats are going to notch huge victories across the state, Ellison's support is surprisingly weak. A weekend Survey USA poll shows Ellison winning with only 49 percent of the vote. The main reason: Democratic defections to the energetically-named Tammy Lee. Prominent Democrats who worked for Sabo have endorsed her over Ellison, as has Tim Penny, the former Democratic congressman who used to be the party's point man on Social Security privatization (back before they were against it). Twenty-three percent of Democrats, the same number of whites, and 19 percent of liberals back Lee.

None of this suggests that Ellison could actually lose. Actually, the tolerance this 71 percent white district is showing for a black Muslim would have been unthinkable 10, 20 years ago. Still, why are a sizable number of liberal Democrats gunshy about pulling the lever for a Muslim? Is Ellison just uniquely controversial (as the Powerline dudes have been insisting with a fury that makes Dan Rather feel like he got off easy)? Once Democrats are no longer scrambling for their very survival as a party, are they going to take another look at a voter bloc that's only supporting them because of the botched war in Iraq?

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  1. One minor quibble–to me, adherents of the Nation of Islam can only loosely be called “Muslim,” at best.

  2. Yeah, they used to say a Catholic could never be president too.

    Why would Dems vote for a Muslim? Those guys are just as hard line as any Fundie right winger.

  3. Well said, I agree completely.

  4. “Is Ellison just uniquely controversial (as the Powerline dudes have been insisting with a fury that makes Dan Rather feel like he got off easy)? ”

    Well, Ellison is clearly anti-Semitic based upon numerous stuff that Powerline has dug up. Given past statements by Jim Moran, etc., however, I’m not so sure this is too extreme for the Democratic Party these days.

  5. Not sure if the guy is still a member of the Nation of Islam or not, cuz that is very different than just being a mainstream Muslim. Who knows, maybe it would be the same if any other black Muslim was running, but in this case, a Nation of Islam candidate should rightly be shunned by most people, unless he’s running against Ann Coulter or something, then you’ve got a real dilemma.

    I may be beating a dead horse, but the Nation of Islam officially believes that white people were living on “all fours” in caves when black people ruled a civilized earth. A dissident black scientist created a “bleached” race of people, and eventually God decided that this bleached race would rule the earth for 7,000 years, but that the black man would eventually overtake this evil race (i.e. white devils) and rule the earth in glory once again.

    I can’t say whether or not any particular NOI member today believes that, but it is what Malcolm X was taught, though he denounced it after his pilgrimage to Mecca. Not surprisingly, the NOI doesn’t emphasize this part of their doctrinal past, and for all intents and purposes, it may not be nearly as important as it once was, but it hasn’t been officially denounced, apologized for, or changed.

    All this may be common knowledge, and any ole black Muslim may be getting similar treatment, but a Nation of Islam member running for Congress in a white district should be getting a hard time, just like an admitted white-supremacist should if he were running in a predominantly black district.

    BTW, the NOI nowadays is much more specifically anti-Semitic than generally anti-white.

  6. the tolerance this 71 percent white district is showing for a black Muslim would have been unthinkable 10, 20 years ago.

    I disagree completely. A district that voted 71% for Kerry would have decades of experience in multi-cultural tolerance. You’d probably have to go back 30 years before this would be true.

  7. One minor quibble–to me, adherents of the Nation of Islam can only loosely be called “Muslim,” at best.

    Yeah and Mormons aren’t “real” Christians neither are seventh day adventists and the pope is the anti-christ…

    Give me a fucking break.

  8. Yeah and Mormons aren’t “real” Christians neither are seventh day adventists and the pope is the anti-christ…

    Give me a fucking break.

    Maybe you should take a break.
    The problem with your analogy is that while the Church of LDS and the 7th Day Adventists are way outside of mainstream Christian churches, they were founded by former members of Christian churches. The Nation of Islam was not. It was founded by a nutjob who liked the exotic trappings of a religion that he knew nothing about.

  9. The Nation of Islam was not.
    If it is not clear, I mean to say that the Nation of Islam was not founded by a Muslim.

  10. Does this show the system as an establishment one has to be a part of to get support from the parties regardless of elections and rules? Seems similar to Leiberman pouting when he played by the rules and lost, then the party support falling out from under the guy who won (whatever his name is).

  11. I would be as likely to vote for a former Nation of Islam activist as I would a Wolrd Church of the Creator activist.

    That is, not at all.

    I don’t trust anyone who has been an activist for a racial supremist group.

  12. I think this says more Ellison’s image and the failings of his campaigning than about the communities willings so accept a muslim. Keep in mind that some part fo the 5th district at a city fo MPLS level are represented by the Green Party. While they may have voted for Kerry, they’re not all voting along the DFL party line.

  13. For those of you that don’t speak Minnesotan…

    In Allen’s comment he mentioned the “DFL.” This is the acronym for the Democratic Party in Minnesota – it stands for Democratic-Farmer-Larbor party (the Farmer-Labor party merged with the Democrats in the 1940’s).

    Another aside is that the MN Republicans used to call themselves the Independent-Republicans from the mid 70’s until the mid 90’s until they got over their shame in being associated with the Watergate era stuff. Newt was in so they decided to be out and proud and thus dropped the “Independent” part of their name.

    Sweeds rool!!1!
    ‘Wegians drool!!!!!~!!

  14. “Still, why are a sizable number of liberal Democrats gunshy about pulling the lever for a Muslim?”

    Duh! No offense to Mr. Weigel, but this seems a rather dumb question, politically correct, but dumb. Could it be because America is in a shooting war in several Muslim countries? Could it be because polling data amongst Muslims in America, and Europe, and the middle east consistently shows high levels of support for Muslim violence and mayhem against the west? Could it be because at the beginning of the Iraq war, a US Army sargeant and Muslim rolled a couple of grenades into the tent of sleeping American soldiers and murdered several of his conveniently non-Muslim comrades because he objected to “war against a Muslim country”? Could it be because a US Marine (and Muslim) serving in Iraq “vanished” and later turned up a deserter living with relatives in Lebanon, because of his “objections to war against a Muslim country”?

    There seems to be a common, albeit politically unpalateable thread in all these incidents. Even Palm Beach Democrats are smart enough to put two and two together, though the intricacies of punch card ballots eludes them; Certainly, hardy cold-tolerant Minnesota Democrats can figure this out.

    Don’t take my comments to reflect anything but love for my fellow human beings, Muslim, Democrat and Republican.

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