The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports from Congressman Keith Ellison's visit to a meeting of Minnesota atheists:
As he was introduced to the eclectic gathering, which included one man wearing a black T-shirt that read "Investigate 9/11," Ellison was told that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Muslims had joined atheists at the bottom of popular opinion polls.
"You'll always find this Muslim standing up for your right to be atheists all you want," Ellison, the first Muslim to serve in Congress, said in a speech to more than 100 atheists at the Southdale Library in Edina. As Minnesota's first black member of the U.S. House ends his first six months in office, Ellison did not disappoint a crowd that seemed energized the more pointed he made his opinions.
It is true that, compared to American opinions of Catholics, Jews and Protestants, Muslims consistently rank lower in "popular opinion polls." But according to a December 2001 Pew survey, Muslim-Americans were "more accepted" by Americans after the attacks of September 11 than before. (The suggestion that Muslims "joined atheists" suggests that "acceptance" numbers had fallen.) According to the report, "the [American] public has a better opinion of Muslim-Americans than it did before the attacks. Favorable views of Muslim-Americans have risen from 45% in March to 59% today, even though 40% of the public think the terrorists were motivated at least in part by religion when they carried out the Sept. 11 attacks." Those numbers appear to have held steady since 2001, with a declining number of respondents agreeing that "Islam encourages violence."
Ellison argued for the impeachment of Dick Cheney, saying that the Vice President's refusal to "answer any questions from the citizens of the United States" was the "very definition of totalitarianism, authoritarianism and dictatorship."
But don't forget fascism! On the September 11 attacks, Ellison had this to say:
"It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is that I'm not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that because, you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box—dismiss you."
So wait, Keith Ellison blanches at being called a "9-11 truther" not because the conspiracy theories are nutty, but because he doesn't want to be called nutty? And while I'm willing to give Ellison the benefit of the doubt and assume that the Reichstag comparison was clumsily phrased, one wonders why he extends the analogy from the Nazi Enabling Laws ("he could basically have authority to do whatever he wants") to the "blaming" of the innocent Communists?
reason on Ellison and the loathesome Virgil Goode.