Rep. Keith Ellison, the only Muslim serving in Congress, is speaking out on the “Is Obama a Muslim” garbage that keeps circulating and how he thinks Hillary Clinton is trying to capitalize on the doubt by using qualifiers when Steve Kroft asked her about the Muslim question in an interview on “60 Minutes.”
Rep. Keith Ellison, in an interview with The Huffington Post, said the Clinton camp was “opportunistically trying to reap the benefit” of voter concerns about Obama’s religious beliefs. Ellison, who is a declared supporter of Senator Barack Obama, faced fierce religious attacks in his election to congress two years ago.
“People are going to throw some stuff on the wall and see what sticks and at this point the Clinton camp is trying to do whatever it can to be successful,” said the Minnesota Democrat. “And if that means benefiting from political bigotry, I don’t think they will try to put a stop to it.”
Ellison’s comments came two days after the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes ran a segment last Sunday in which a male voter explained how he was influenced by the fallacious Muslim smear campaign against Obama. Later in the show, Clinton was asked if she believed the rumors.
“Of course not,” said the New York Democrat. “I mean, that’s — you know, there is no basis for that. You know, I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn’t any reason to doubt that.”
Asked by correspondent Steve Kroft whether she was taking Obama at his word or personally believed he was not a Muslim, Clinton expanded on her answer: “No. No. Why would I? … There is nothing to base that on, as far as I know.”
I’m not going to get into the all kinds of wrong to even ask Clinton about what religion Obama is. I don’t want anyone saying what my beliefs are but me, so this was all a little suspect. But Hillary Clinton’s response after Kroft continued to prod her after she said she didn’t think he was a Muslim, resulting in her equivocating that “as far as I know” Obama’s not a Muslim.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews went into fits after this, but that was more about him than caring about Obama and the stigma being placed on people who are Muslims.
I do think the Clintons are trying to capitalize off the doubts. They’ve never passed up anything that might help Hillary Clinton’s bid for the nomination. But I also see others being complicit in keeping this rumor going, from Republicans to racists to scaremongers to just about anyone who doesn’t want to see Obama elected president. Not to mention the press who I feel are trying to address the issue, but failing at it at the same time by focusing on the more sensational aspects.
I don’t think they know what to do to this ridiculous “Muslim” question. He’s not a Muslim, but there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim. There is no religious test for the office of President.
Yet the drama continues.
When Ellison was sworn into Congress he used a Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson, that still didn’t stop detractors from bemoaning the fact that someone took the oath to protect and serve our country with anything other than a Bible. For all America’s accomplishments, bigotry is still sitting here in the form of racial and religious intolerance. This election cycle has a meme that incorporates both.
I think it’s pathetic that we even have this issue at all.