Congressman Keith Elllison spoke passionately and powerfully today at Peter King's congressional hearing about Radicalized Islam in the USA. In distinction from the distasteful background to these hearings (see my earlier post this week), Congressman Ellison reminded us that every American Muslim is an individual and it is incumbent upon us all to stand up in the face of Islamophobia, or any kind of racism that talks about a 'them'. He did so by telling us about one particular American Muslim, 23 years old, who was a first responder at the Twin Towers on 9/11. His testimony speaks for itself.
No-one would deny our obligations to keep America safe and to root out terrorism. But when we forget that for every radical in any group there are many more stories like these, and try to tar an entire community of millions with the brush of extremism, we are guilty of racism, plain and simple. There are more and less effective ways to identify terrorists and terrorist plots, whether they be within the USA or beyond our borders. Holding a congressional hearing contributed not one iota to that goal. Congressman Ellison helped communicate that message loud and clear.
Rabbis for Human Rights just released a first set of youtube videos of Rabbis of all denominations speaking out against Islamophobia. You can view them here.
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz