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David Hines [userpic]

dear Congressman Ellison: shut up.

July 9th, 2007 (11:34 am)

Hey, remember Keith Ellison? Freshman Congressman; if you've heard of him, it's because he became the first Muslim elected to Congress a while back. There was that kerfuffle when some asshole got grumpy about him being sworn in on the Koran, which didn't bother most people on either side of the aisle and wound up evaporating in a political masterstroke when Ellison arranged with the Library of Congress to be sworn in on not just the Koran, but on Thomas Jefferson's personal copy. Well-played. I had reservations about Ellison himself, but hey, we elected a Muslim congressman while we're at war with folks espousing the radical branch of that faith, and that's gotta give you a warm fuzzy, right?

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that yesterday, Ellison was speaking to an atheist gathering at a library in Edina, MN. Small audience: a hundred or so. The audience received him well, and the reporter got some choice quotes.

Congressman Ellison compared Sept. 11 to the burning of the Reichstag building in Nazi Germany.

"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."

I know a lot of people hate the Bush 43 administration, and think that they used the September 11 attacks to do Nasty Bad Things. And y'know what? That's okay. You can disagree vehemently with whatever party is in power, even hate their guts, and you can say it loud; that's part of what makes politics fun. Remember when Abraham Lincoln supporters pelted Stephen Douglas's carriage with horseshit during their famous series of debates? (Seriously, they did! That's how people rolled back then, and there was lots of horseshit around.) But when people start bringing out the Nazi comparisons, I get really pissed off. Because I lost a lot of people in my family to the Nazis; they died on the train to, or in, an internment camp called Verchovka, in the Ukraine. And when Ellison compares George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler, *he is spitting on their memory.*

Bad rhetorical extravagance. But Ellison didn't stop there.

"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." [Emphasis added -- DH.]

Isn't that dandy? He's not *saying* the September 11 attacks were planned by the US government! Boy, that's sure spiffy, ain't it! Good of him! But not because that's FUCKING INSANE. Not because that's an abominable and immoral lie. But because, y'know, if he came out and said it in public he'd be viewed as either fucking insane or an abominable and immoral liar, and he doesn't want to be dismissed.

I think we can dismiss Ellison right now, frankly, and I'd be very inclined to dismiss everybody in his audience for the simple reason that nobody stood up and yelled, "What the FUCK?" (It's kind of like that Iranian cleric who spoke at Harvard a while back; he spoke very candidly about how he believes the True Brand of Faith requires executing homosexuals. The cream of Harvard stood there and listened politely.)

Democracy rests on having a strong and loyal opposition. We need people on both sides of the fence to watch each other, keep each other honest, make determined and intelligent arguments, have the courage of their convictions. Now more than *ever,* we need good arguments on both sides. And 9/11 Truthers don't deliver that. Nor do those who pander to them.

Dear Congressman Ellison: *shut the fuck up.*