CNN to Keith Ellison: "Prove to me that you are not working with our enemies"
Conservative Philadelphia-based radio host Glenn Beck held a brief interview with Congressman-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN) on November 14 during a broadcast of CNN Headline News. Beck stated he wasn't accusing Ellison of being "an enemy," but felt many Americans would consider Ellison an enemy of the United States. A snippet of the interview is below...
In response, Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC's Countdown, named Glenn Beck winner of his nightly "Worst Person in the World" for his conduct during the interview. The full transcript of the Beck-Ellison exchange is after the jump...
BECK: History was made last Tuesday when Democrat Keith Ellison got elected to Congress, representing the great state of Minnesota. Well, not really unusual that Minnesota would elect a Democrat. What is noteworthy is that Keith is the first Muslim in history to be elected to the House of Representatives. He joins us now.
KEITH ELLISON (D), CONGRESS-MAN ELECT OF MINNESOTA: How you doing, Glenn? Glad to be here.
BECK: Thank you. I will tell you, may I -- may we have five minutes here where we're just politically incorrect and I play the cards face up on the table?
ELLISON: Go there.
BECK: OK. No offense, and I know Muslims. I like Muslims. I've been to mosques. I really don't believe that Islam is a religion of evil. I -- you know, I think it's being hijacked, quite frankly.
With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying, "Let's cut and run." And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies."
And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.
ELLISON: Let me tell you, the people in the Fifth Congressional District know that I have a deep love and affection for my country. There's no one who's more patriotic than I am, and so you know, I don't need to -- need to prove my patriotic stripes.
BECK: And I'm not asking you to. I'm wondering if you see that. You come from a district that is heavily immigrant with Somalians, and I think it's wonderful, honestly. I think it is really a good sign that you are -- you could be an icon to show Europe, this is the way you integrate into a country. I think the Somalians coming out and voting is a very good thing. With that...
ELLISON: I'd agree with you.
BECK: Yes. With that being said, you see -- I saw a recent poll that showed 25 percent of Muslims in America will not report a terrorist plot if they see it.
ELLISON: Well, I don't believe that poll. I think that Muslims in America are very loyal, patriotic people. We have over 7,000 Muslims who are in the United States armed forces fighting to defend this great country of ours. So, I just don't see it that way, and I think that I've seen a number of polls that just -- were just flat out wrong about this one.
BECK: OK. Your view of Muslim extremists.
ELLISON: They're criminals. But I think that people who commit criminal acts should be treated like criminals, regardless of their faith.
BECK: And do you believe -- I agree with you. Do you believe that they are destroying Islam as well as trying to destroy us?
ELLISON: Well, I think that -- I think that there are people -- and let me just say this. You know, Timothy McVeigh, who's not a Muslim, was a pretty dangerous guy to America, too. I do think that we have to be clear that, you know, Islam and Muslims in America are good, loyal Americans here to make this country a stronger, better place.
But you know, having said that, I think it is important to note that, you know, if you were to gather Muslims up and ask them how they feel about this country, they'll talk about it being the land of opportunity, the place where they can worship their faith as they choose, a place where they can earn a decent living.
BECK: Yes. I agree with you. We don't have any argument there. I spoke to somebody on the radio just today that echoed those things.
Now, you want to bring the troops home right now. Tell me how that doesn't play right into the hands of Ahmadinejad and the Iranians filling that power vacuum that we will leave if we do that.
ELLISON: Well, I mean, I think that recognizing that a military solution in Iraq is probably not going to make America safer is not the same as cutting and running.
I believe that the United States, together with the world community, needs to help reconstruct Iraq and needs to be a part of bringing the fighting factions there to a point where they have peace. But I don't think that using the military option is the only way to go.
BECK: I can tell that...
ELLISON: Glenn, think about it this way. Look at the National Intelligence Estimate. It was pretty clear that, you know, our presence in Iraq is not contributing to a safer Iraq and, therefore, not diminishing the threat of terrorism.
BECK: But I have to tell you, I mean, to think that we could somehow or another work with the international community and get the Sunnis and the Shias together so they could live in peace is also just as ridiculous on many fronts.
ELLISON: But, Glenn...
BECK: People have been warring against each other forever and on top of it the international community? Come on.
ELLISON: But Glenn, you're a historian, a very educated and intelligent man, and you know that the Shia and the Sunni in Iraq have really never had a civil war before. You're aware of that, aren't you?
BECK: You know what? I have to tell you, if you think that Iraq is put together because everybody is happy as little field mice, you're kidding yourself.
BECK: That is three separate countries cobbled together through a strong man.
ELLISON: I'll agree that it is a pluralistic, multiethnic society that has had its difficulties over time, but the Shia and Sunni have never had a civil war, and that's a historic fact.
BECK: Congressman, thank you very much.
ELLISON: Thank you.
BECK: Back in a minute.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.