Rep. Ellison’s Tears, and the Shaming of Peter King

Here you’ll find the video of Rep. Ellison’s powerful, moving testimony before the King committee on “radical Islam.” It’s as though McCarthy had been born for nothing. Frankly, I’ve not often been moved to tears by Senate hearings, but in this case if you don’t feel the urge to cry, you’re not human. And neither is Peter King, who shut down a fellow committee member who wanted there to be more opening statements by the rest of the committee. He simply shut her down and brought to the microphone a fellow knuckle-dragger, another pasty white guy filled with dread about them Mooslums.

King’s hypocrisy can’t be overstated. He supported the IRA, I mean in terms of material, actual support; if he’d given an Islamic charity with ties to al-Qaeda the same amount of support, he’d be in Guantanamo right now and about a hundred pounds lighter (full disclosure: pot/kettle on the weight front). Yet he looked at Rep. Ellison without a hint of shame. Incredible. Absolutely incredible.

Racism is the only possible, logical explanation for King’s position. Nothing else makes sense. This is neither patriotism, concern for security, or even base nationalism (an odious notion no matter where it’s practiced). This can only be that matter-of-fact racism that blinds the person who holds those beliefs to any concept of hypocrisy, from a political or religious basis. I find it impossible to imagine a genuine, practicing Christian who could treat all of Islam this way, yet every day on the news we see it. From denials for permits to build mosques to burning the Koran, it shames the Christian more than it could ever hurt Islam because then the rest of the world can see them for who they really are when they remove those piety masks.

Ellison cried when he told the story of a NYFD first-responder, a Muslim, who was among those killed when the towers collapsed. Afterwards began a hideous rumor—that somehow this young guy, who’s certainly more of an American than Peter King, Mitch McConnell, Ralph Reed, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, the Repub/TP cabal, was a co-conspirator in the attacks. It was clear Ellison wasn’t going to make it through the whole of his prepared text, but he continued, fighting his emotions under the glare of the political lights, until finally he choked out the words “I yield back—”

At this point, King was in damage-control mode. Ellison had suddenly changed the tone of the debate, forcing King to deny the motion that other committee members be given a chance to speak for the record because God only knows, he must’ve thought, what these others would say. Instead, King’s reaction made him look petulant, like a bully, and ignorant, as witnessed by his second speaker.

There was fear on King’s face. He panicked. America could see it. 

I think Ellison succeeded in shaming King, by simply telling the truth—without filter, but with all the raw human emotion any individual would have to feel in Ellison’s position. Sometimes the hard, clear truth is the toughest thing to face, and King failed, manifestly failed. His hearings are a racist sham that reveal much more about King and the people on his ideological side than it ever could about Islam, or radicalism. Ellison correctly pointed out that the US never held hearings on the issue of white Christian male terrorists who’ve actually been successful in their attacks (and why not? I’d love to see those hearings, wouldn’t you? Now that would be appointment viewing.); but because we’re talking about Islam as a basis rather than Christianity, King and his kind don’t see a problem.


About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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