The leftist magazine Tikkun, in its January–February 2010 issue, carries an “Interview with Keith Ellison” in which the magazine’s editor asks the Democratic congressman from Minnesota about my recent article “Islamism 2.0”:
MICHAEL LERNER: You are aware that the Jerusalem Post printed an article by Daniel Pipes identifying you and Tariq Ramadan as intellectual challengers to American values who are even more significant than the physical attack from terrorists. And I wonder if you have any response to that, or what you thought of that?
KEITH ELLISON: I think that it is a paranoid and conspiratorial point of view and that it is absolutely devoid of any factual support. And that it should not be considered a serious observation.
Here is the thing: I believe in democracy. I believe conflict in society should be resolved through election. I believe in the rights of women and minorities. I believe in equality in front of the law for all people. These are not the views of an extremist. I believe in religious tolerance. I support interfaith dialogue everywhere. I support Israel. I support the Palestinian people and I support their aspiration for a state. I support Israel’s aspiration to live in peace and security but side-by-side with that state. So Daniel Pipes’s point of view is simply not accurate.
I make no personal ad hominem attacks against Mr. Pipes — I don’t know Mr. Pipes — and I am sure he has reasons for thinking what he thinks; I am not suggesting they are legitimate reasons, I am sure they are not. But I am sure he has justification for his thoughts. I wouldn’t mind talking to the man one day because anybody so seriously incorrect really needs some time and attention with people who can help him develop a greater level of understanding. That is all I have to say about that.
Okay, I am paranoid, conspiratorial, not serious yet seriously incorrect, not accurate, and in need of being talked to by Keith Ellison. In response, I wrote him on January 13, 2010, both at his Washington office and via Tikkun’s editor:
Dear Mr. Ellison:
I read with interest the interview you gave Tikkun, where you said about me: “Daniel Pipes’s point of view is simply not accurate. . . . I wouldn’t mind talking to the man one day because anybody so seriously incorrect really needs some time and attention with people who can help him develop a greater level of understanding.”
I appreciate that you “wouldn’t mind talking” to me and in like spirit, I invite you to a public debate on a topic such as “Islam and the United States.”
I look forward to hearing from you.
After getting no response, I sent the letter again on January 29, this time also to the district office. Still no reply. An effort via Facebook likewise failed.
(1) Maybe Mr. Ellison made himself scarce because someone tipped him off to my debate with Ken Livingstone?
(2) I again invite Mr. Ellison to a debate.
(3) That debate should be clarifying and useful both for ourselves and for our audience.
– Daniel Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.