Representative Keith Ellison: Muslim Patriot

Utne Reader visionary
by Staff, Utne Reader
November-December 2011
Add to My MSN


Content Tools

Related Content

How to Win the War on Poverty

Welfare programs have long attacked the symptoms of poverty. What if we targeted the roots?

Usain Bolt’s “Real” Time

An indelible image from last month’s Olympic Games came when Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt dominated ...

Utne Reader Illustrated: Keith Greiman

Art Director Stephanie Glaros explains the process behind an Utne Reader illustration…

Media Conference: Reaching Beyond the Choir

The National Conference for Media Reform kicked off today, looking to the future, building a movemen...

Representative Keith Ellison was chosen as an Utne Reader visionary in 2011. Each year Utne Reader puts forward its selection of world visionaries—people who don’t just concoct great ideas but also act on them.

Representative Keith Ellison Online Extras | 2011 Visionaries Home Page 

Ask the plainspoken U.S. congressman Keith Ellison what’s most important for America and you’ll get a blunt treatise on income disparity. “People who are working and middle class have to see that we have got to maintain some solidarity,” he says. “Otherwise, the corporate bosses will eat us for lunch.”

Ask Americans what they think is most important about Keith Ellison, however, and they’re likely to mention his religion. Ellison is a Muslim—the first to serve in Congress—and this fact has defined his national political career since 2007, when he announced his bid to represent Minnesota’s solidly Democratic Fifth Congressional District.

Since the September 11, 2001, attacks, the apparent divide between Christians and Muslims has shaped global politics above any other force. Ellison has made it part of his mission to bridge that divide. “I can help talk to the Muslim world about the goodness of America, and to Americans about the contributions Islam has given to America,” he says.

What really sets Ellison apart from many contemporary progressive voices, though, is less his faith in Islam than his faith in his country: the America of tolerance and religious freedom. “When Martin Luther King was marching, he wasn’t condemning America—he was calling America to its best impulses,” Ellison explains. “He was saying, ‘We know you’re fundamentally good. Let’s see some of that.’ It sounds corny, but I believe all of that. All countries have roots that are ugly, but America has been able to overcome slavery, Jim Crow, religious hatred, denying women the vote. So what a privilege for me to be positioned historically to remind Americans of our tolerance.”

Representative Keith Ellison Online Extras | 2011 Visionaries Home Page 

168-cover-thumb.jpgHave something to say? Send a letter to editor@utne.com. This article first appeared in the November-December 2011 issue of Utne Reader.








Post a comment below.

 








Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!