In the featured article at FrontPage this morning, I discuss Keith Ellison’s comparison of 9/11 to the Reichstag fire, and ask the Congressman a few questions:
Upon assuming office, United States Congressmen swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) is on the job, zeroing in on a large-scale plan to subvert the Constitution, led by none other than George W. Bush. Speaking last week in Minnesota to a meeting of a group called Atheists for Human Rights, Ellison said of the September 11 attacks: “It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader [Hitler] of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”
The Nazi regime staged the fire at the Reichstag, the German Parliament building, on February 27, 1933, and blamed it on German and foreign Communist agents. The German Communist party was swiftly outlawed, thousands of Communists were arrested, and Hitler and his henchmen were able to bully the other parties in the German Parliament to grant him dictatorial powers, allowing him to legislate without approval from the assembly. But in making this comparison Ellison emphasized that he wasn’t saying that the Bush Administration staged the 9/11 attacks, because, “you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box — dismiss you.”
Ellison didn’t entirely avoid the “nut-ball box,” however. He went on to assert that Vice President Cheney”s behavior when he refused to answer questions put to him by Congress was “the very definition of totalitarianism, authoritarianism and dictatorship.” Such a “definition” may come as a surprise to those who may think that concentration camps, rule by fiat, and violent suppression of dissent are more reliable hallmarks of totalitarianism, authoritarianism and dictatorship than declining to respond to inquiries. And Ellison’s overall point was no more successful at avoiding “nut-ball” territory. To suggest that since 9/11 Bush has been “in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted” ignores not only the Democrat-controlled Congress and the mainstream media’s unstinting hostility to the President, but the fact that Ellison himself was speaking freely, without fear of retribution — while if someone like him had said similar things in National Socialist Germany, he would have faced arrest and torture.
Meanwhile, as someone who has sworn to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” Ellison has more to answer for than just hysterical anti-Bush rhetoric. Ellison has taken money from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a case involving funding of the terrorist group Hamas. The mainstream media has been silent on this; would treat the specter of a congressman taking money from the Ku Klux Klan with similar indifference? CAIR co-founder Nihad Awad has declared his support for Hamas in the past, although he now disavows the group. And as for the Constitution, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper has said: “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.” And Omar Ahmad, co-founder of CAIR with Awad, has declared that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant,” with the Qur’an “the highest authority in America.” Ahmad now denies having said this, but the original reporter of his remarks stands by her story.
Such statements don’t require forced and hysterical comparisons with Hitler to be recognized as explicit threats to the U.S. Constitution. Will Ellison, now that he has sworn to defend that document and appears so solicitous to fend off threats to it, now disavow CAIR, return the money he has received from that organization, and repudiate any attempt by Muslims in the United States to impose Islamic Sharia law here?
When Ellison was elected, some of his supporters shouted “Allahu akbar!” at his victory party, while the victor himself looked on with obvious embarrassment. But he had no need to be concerned. In a gushing piece on his victory, the New York Times never mentioned CAIR once — and dismissed concerns about his record as coming from “Muslim-bashers in the blogosphere.” It noted that some “Muslim American activists” have compared Ellison’s candidacy to “John F. Kennedy”s breaking the taboo against a Roman Catholic’s being president.”
The big difference, of course, is that in Kennedy”s case he addressed those concerns — which were in any case baseless, since the Pope had in fact no plans to rule the United States through a Catholic president. But concerns about Ellison’s views on terror groups and Islamic supremacism are hardly baseless: they stem from amply documented statements and activities of the CAIR officials whose support he has never disavowed. Nevertheless, these concerns are dismissed as “bigotry” and left unanswered, while the congressman himself compares the leader of the world’s oldest and largest republic to the most notorious dictator in history. If he would tone down the hysteria and instead answer some pointed questions about his own associations and views, Americans would rightly be reassured.