Keith Ellison Responds, Swears on Jefferson's Quran
Yesterday, January 4th, Representative-elect Keith Ellison was sworn in as the first Muslim Congressman. He placed his right hand on a copy of the Quran owned by one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. As noted in my earlier posts, Ellison has come under heavy attack for choosing to swear on the Quran because he is a Muslim. But in a savvy move forecasting his political wit, Ellison chose to shut the critics up by using Jefferson's Quran as a symbol of the man's open-mindedness and level of education compared to the bigots who roam the airwaves and even the chambers of Congress today. In a powerful editorial posted yesterday on the Washington Post's "On Faith" forum, Keith Ellison tells the American people to "Choose Generosity, Not Exclusion." It's a must read.
We need a politics of generosity based on the reality of abundance as opposed to a politics of not-enough. The richest 1 percent of the nation, on average, owns 190 times as much as a typical household. The child poverty rate in the United States is the highest of 16 other industrialized nations. Employers are shifting health insurance costs onto workers. Not only are fewer employees receiving health insurance through their employers, but those who still do are paying more for it.Kudos to you, Mr. Ellison.
Recently, I have become the focus of some criticism for my use of the Qu'ran for my ceremonial swearing in. Let me be clear, I am going to be sworn into office like all members of Congress. I am going to swear to uphold the United States Constitution. We seem to have lost the political vision of our founding document -- a vision of inclusion, tolerance and generosity.
I do not blame my critics for subscribing to a politics of scarcity and intolerance. However, I believe we all must project a new politics of generosity and inclusion This is the vision of the diverse coalition in my Congressional district. My constituents in Minnesota elected me to fight for a new politics in which a loving nation guarantees health care for all of its people; a new politics in which executive pay may not skyrocket while workers do not have enough to care for their families. I was elected to articulate a new politics in which no one is cut out of the American dream, not immigrants, not gays, not poor people, not even a Muslim committed to serve his nation.
Photos of the ceremony:
Keith Ellison (D-MN) places his hand on an English translation of the Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson and held by his wife Kim (C) as he is sworn in as the first Muslim member of Congress by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Captitol Hill in Washington, January 4th, 2007. REUTERS/Jim Young
Rep. Keith Ellison, places his hand on the Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson as his wife Kim Ellison holds the two-volume book during his swearing in ceremony, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2007, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, left, joins Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., as they look at the Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson which Ellison later used during his swearing in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2007, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
The Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson and used by Rep. Keith Ellison, is displayed at the Library of Congress , Thursday, Jan. 4, 2007, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)