Over the years it’s been a rare occasion where I find an opportunity to agree with sentiments voiced by the man who represents me in the United States House of Representatives. So I almost feel obligated to recognize such an occurrence when I can find some common cause with Representative Keith Ellison.
The topic that Representative Ellison was addressing was the recent arrest of six local youths who were attempting to find their way to Syria and/or to join in jihad.
Rep. Ellison: Terror recruits are in the dark, hard to reach:
“I don’t know how we talk to them. I don’t know how we get through to them,” he said. “People like me need to be communicating a message that there is a good life to be lived. There is nothing about U.S. foreign policy that you don’t like that you could not more effectively change by active citizenship. Nobody is going to be complaining if you don’t like Guantanamo. I don’t like it either.”
Firstly, I like the fact that Ellison is admitting that he doesn’t have all the answers. Too often politicians and government officials pretend that they have the solution to any and every problem if only we’re willing to give them the right amount of money or power to implement it. Ellison doesn't offer more government as the answer here which is refreshing.
Secondly, he doesn’t make excuses for the actions taken by these young men. Instead he expresses the obvious, which is that they have an opportunity for a life here which is almost certainly far better than they would have in the place they came from or the places they may want to go to.
Thirdly, he states another obvious fact that they are far more likely to have a positive impact on changing policies they don’t like through peaceful politics instead of violent actions.
Ellison also commented on the person who helped alert authorities to the plot:
”That’s a snitch,” Ellison said. “That’s not what this guy did. He gave information that he thought would probably save their lives. Being in jail is better than being dead in Syria. … Once they got over to Syria and found out that ISIS is nothing but a bunch of bloodthirsty murderers, they’re not fighting for Islam, they’re not standing up for the Muslim community, they’re just a bunch of murderers, then they might try to leave, but it may be too late. They kill people like that.”
Ever since 9/11 there has been a call for Muslim leaders to speak out against terrorism, not offer excuses for it, and to call it what it is. As the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, it’s encouraging to see Keith Ellison doing exactly that. More please.