By Pamela K. Taylor
Tuesday's primaries in Minneapolis's fifth Congressional district delivered up a double whammy of hope. In a district that is overwhelmingly Democratic, the winner was Keith Ellison, a progressive politician and a progressive Muslim.
Mr. Ellison, who received endorsements from environmental, feminist, labor, latino, jewish and GLBT groups, is expected to be a shoe-in this November.
Needless to say, as a political activist and a progressive Muslim, I couldn't be happier. We need more progressive politicians in our system. Lots of them. Preferrably a majority of them so we can turn our country back in the right direction (or should I say left direction *wink*).
We need to start implementing policies and programs that serve our needs like creating an excellent public education system for all children, no matter how rich or poor their districts; implementing univeral healthcare; creating a sane energy policy and incentives for developing alternative fuels.
We also need more progressive Muslim voices.
Mr. Ellison is not afraid to aver that his faith inspires his values. This is particularly refreshing when it comes from a man who has a reputation as a progressive politician, and who has won endorsements from groups that most Americans think Islam discriminates against like women, Jews and gays, or that most Americans think Islam ignores like environmentalists, the working class, and farmers.
I hope that with a Muslim representative, some of the more vocally anti-Muslim congressmen will take some time to learn something about Islam and Muslims, rather than base their understanding on CNN, FOX, and the testimony of "expert" witnesses.
In my most hopeful of moments, I dream that our foriegn policy, homeland security, and airport procedures will stop being so prejudicial against your average Muslim, and start implementing strategies that might actually make us safer.
I have to admit I feel sorry for the mainstream (read: conservative, mosque based) Muslim community. They will be delighted that there is at long last a Muslim representative in Congress, but I'm pretty sure they will disagree with many of Mr. Ellison's positions. It will be interesting to see if they bring him to address their conventions and conferences.
By all rights, they should be trumpeting this man. I wonder if they will.