The congressman's curious theory on the root causes of terrorism.
In rambling remarks Feb. 18 at President Obama's so-called Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) used the opportunity to smear America, downplay Muslim violence, and urge law enforcement to go easy on suspected Muslim terrorists.
Ellison accused the U.S. of breeding terrorists by somehow persecuting Muslims.
"The reason that we are susceptible to violent extremism is because we have not deepened opportunity in our country enough. Now it's true that, certainly, economic deprivation makes people susceptible to being lured and seduced. That's a fact. But it's also true that not only is it economic deprivation, although it is certainly part of it. The other part of it is social deprivation as well and legal deprivation as well," he said.
Of course anyone who follows the American scene knows that Muslims in this country are far from persecuted. It is more accurate to describe them as a protected class. Criticism of Muslims is met with hysterical shrieks and verbal abuse from left-wingers. President Obama, in particular, seems to think Muslims can do no wrong, as liberal Bob Beckel recently observed.
Ellison's contention that prospective terrorists would choose a different path in life if only they had good jobs and were treated better by society echoed State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf's asinine jobs-for-jihadists comment. Harf flamed out spectacularly last week when she said “we cannot win this war” against ISIS by “killing them” and then suggesting that “we need ... to go after the root causes” like “lack of opportunity for jobs.” (Mass grave-digger is a growth profession in Islamic State-held territory.)
That Muslim terrorism is America's fault is a frequent theme in Ellison's speeches.
In 2009 he said that “violent extremism with a Muslim veneer is essentially a post-colonial reaction” (i.e., a reaction to Western colonialism of the past) and a manifestation of a “political environment rooted in grievance.”
Ellison tried to downplay Islamist violence last week by suggesting it was on a par with religious violence committed by members of other faiths:
No religion has a monopoly on violent extremism. And it's critical to point out at this time that we have religious extremists of all faiths. We are today gathered primarily because of Muslims who are engaging in violent extremism and I want to be among the first to tell you I have no concern for them. If any Muslim is violating the law and hurting people, prosecute them, arrest them, convict them, jail them if you need to but at the same time, understand that we don't want to fall into this frame that countering violent extremism is strictly a law enforcement problem because it's not. As we've talked about, it's a social problem, it's an economic problem. And we also don't want to slip into the mistaken idea that the violent extremism problem is essentially a Muslim problem because we know just from Chapel Hill the other day.
Where to begin? In a strictly technical sense Ellison may be right. Islam may only enjoy a near-monopoly on violent extremism but it is very close to cornering the market outright. Outbursts of violence from the occasional deranged Christian are outweighed by the tens of thousands of atrocities committed every year in the name of Islam. No other religions have such bloody track records in the modern era.
And although Ellison may now say he believes Muslims should be held accountable according to law that didn't seem to be his position in 2008. In a radio interview that year he urged listeners to support University of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian. Al-Arian confessed to conspiring to supply goods and services to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group that carried out numerous suicide attacks on Israel. Al-Arian supports suicide-bombing and is known to have chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" at events. After two jihadist suicide bombers murdered 18 people in Israel in 1995, al-Arian referred to the killers as “two mujahidin martyred for the sake of God.” He was recently deported.
Like many members of the media who choose to ignore the facts, Ellison seizes upon the recent murder of three people in Chapel Hill, N.C., who happened to be Muslim.
There is no evidence the alleged killer, Craig Stephen Hicks, targeted the victims because of their religion. Hicks was a self-described atheist whose politics leaned left. His Facebook page features "likes" for Rachel Maddow and the ultra-politically correct Southern Poverty Law Center, a frequent defender of Islam. Evidence suggests the killings grew out of a parking dispute.
But the murders give Ellison and his ilk another false talking point to use against America.
"It's important that we at least admit that what happened in Chapel Hill probably was not only about a parking space," he said to applause at the White House conference. "As long as we say, 'oh, it's just parking,' and this defies our sense of logic and common sense, this actually helps to support the false narrative of the violent extremist."
Look for a variation of this statement in Ellison's upcoming fundraising letters.
Ellison also thinks that law enforcement goes too hard on his fellow Muslims. The police should be more gentle and restrained in their investigations, he suggests:
So we've got to make sure that our constitutional framework is scrupulously adhered to. We reinforce the false narrative that America is at war with Islam when we appear to violate our own requirements of the Constitution regarding surveillance, when we mix surveillance and outreach. This is a very shortsighted thing to do and I encourage members of law enforcement to not do it. Outreach is important, surveillance is important, and they should be done separately. And it's also important to bear in mind that when cases are constructed based on offering the defendant the means, motive, and opportunity to do the crime, that that doesn't assist things either.
In Ellison's view it's not fair when FBI agents pose as terrorists and work with would-be bombers in order to put them behind bars. Perhaps Ellison would be happier if FBI agents sat at their desks and waited patiently for terrorists to turn themselves in.
Ellison's comments will not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed his career.
Along with Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, Ellison is co-chairman of the misnamed Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group of socialist lawmakers in Congress. What social ills he cannot blame on the American system, he blames on capitalism. Not surprisingly, he supported Occupy Wall Street whose adherents committed arson, defecated on police cars, and raped fellow activists, describing the small-c communist movement's anger as "justified."
Ellison was a longtime member of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. He described Farrakhan as “a role model for black youth,” “not an anti-Semite,” and “a sincere, tireless, and uncompromising advocate of the black community and other oppressed people around the world.” He is also a regular at events sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), two groups the Department of Justice has identified as co-conspirators in terrorism financing schemes benefiting Hamas. Ellison is unlikely to demand CAIR be investigated by the authorities anytime soon.
In 2000 Ellison delivered a speech at a fundraising event sponsored by the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Former Weather Underground leader Bernardine Dohrn was in attendance at the event which was a fundraiser for former Symbionese Liberation Army terrorist Kathleen Soliah after her arrest in St. Paul for the attempted murder of Los Angeles police officers in 1975. Ellison demanded Soliah's release and described her as someone who had been “fighting for freedom in the '60s and '70s.” Ellison also spoke favorably of cop killer and leftist icon Mumia Abu Jamal.
When Ellison won his first congressional election on Nov. 7, 2006, at his victory party several of his supporters shouted “Allahu Akbar!" which is the traditional battle cry of jihadists.
It's not that Ellison is actively plotting attacks against the United States; he's making things easier for Muslim terrorists.
He's enabling them. He's got their back.
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