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Keith Ellison accuses GOP of ‘bigotry’

Islamic group buys proposed center site; gay groups nationally seek Minnesota “volunteers”; sports-free bars spotlighted; and more.

Editor’s note: Former Glean writer Max Sparber is filling in for Brian Lambert for a few days.

There’s something to be said for this time of year. The afternoons crackle. The crickets chirrup. And the politicians, perhaps more so than any other time, offer up great quotes. We can always count on Rep. Keith Ellison, who was interviewed by Mother Jones. The publication seemed so taken with him that it titled the piece “Rep. Keith Ellison: GOP is ‘Basically a Bigoted Party.’ ”

Now, I don’t think anyone is telling tales out of school when we discuss the Republican strategy of going after the bigot vote. There is, after all, a strategy called “the Southern strategy,” which worked pretty well for Nixon and relied heavily on going after Southern white voters by characterizing them as disenfranchized from their own country by a series of boogeymen, including upstart minorities. And while Nixon was a long time ago, New York Magazine just published a piece  on the Republican Party’s heavy reliance on white votes, and how this reliance might be failing the party. Senator Lindsey O. Graham is quoted in the Washington Post as saying, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

So what did Ellison say? Well, Ellison was responding to questions about Republicans’ occasional panic about Shariah law, which they will claim Democrats are secretly inserting into American politics. (As an example, Michele Bachmann.) Ellison sees these comments as part of what Mother Jones calls a larger “narrative of exclusion,” and the magazine quotes Ellison thus:

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“Why do they want to become the party of hate? They’re hating on immigrants who are from Latin America. They’re demonstrating hatred toward Muslims. They’re demonstrating hostility toward women. They act like they don’t like gay people. Who is their party supposed to be made up of in 20 years?”

Perhaps his frustration is understandable. There are, after all, some 2.6 million Muslims in the United States, including Ellison, and they are often treated as an invading army, rather than as fellow citizens.

I mean, look at the Muslim cultural center that has been proposed in the former Medtronic headquarters. Janet Moore of the Star Tribune reports that this center has been opposed by locals, and the proposal was rejected in June by the St. Anthony City Council after a dispiriting meeting with residents where “disparaging remarks” were made about the Muslim faith. (Sample: “Islam is evil. There’s no other religion in the world that endorses violence.”)

The GleanAn Islamic group has gone ahead and bought the building anyway and is attempting to iron out approval, but it’s got to be a bit of a grind to be cast as evil by neighbors and manipulative outsiders by politicians.

Ellison brought up the issue of gay marriage as well, which is a subject that is no small potatoes in Minnesota just now. After all, there is an amendment on the ballot that would take gay marriage from simply not being legal to being super-illegal. As the AP reports, gay groups nationally are seeking volunteers to come to Minnesota for a week. The story doesn’t detail what these volunteers would do here — presumably do what volunteers do, which usually involves shaking hands and knocking at doors. I would also recommend hitting a few bars. It won’t help your cause any, but politicking is thirsty work.

Of course, it’s hard to find a bar that isn’t playing some horrible sporting event on giant televisions. Some people like that, but if you don’t, WCCO has compiled a handy list of bars that don’t devote most of their wallspace to the largest televisions humans can produce in order to show the spectacle of people throwing balls to each other. At the top of the list: Triple Rock Social Club. Missing from the list: The Bradstreet, which is the only place in Minnesota you can get a decent sazarac. I’m not saying WCCO doesn’t know its business on this; I am saying they should have called me.