Welcome to December. Order those holiday gifts in the coming days, and give yourself some leeway with the shipping time!
Representative Keith Ellison’s Imam: Homosexuality Is ‘Not What God Intended’
BuzzFeed has decided that the world needed an expose of the religious views of the pastor of Chip and Joanna Gaines, host of the Fixer Upper series on HGTV. And because the editorial team at Buzzfeed deems those mainstream traditional Christian views controversial, they concluded that the hosts must be hounded until they publicly express their views on the topic.
So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage? And would they ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s House Hunters and Property Brothers? Emails to Brock Murphy, the public relations director at their company, Magnolia, were not returned. Nor were emails and calls to HGTV’s PR department.
If this social-media-mob-stirring, guilt-by-association, drive-out-the-heretics philosophy is how the game is going to be played now… I’d like the folks at BuzzFeed to turn their attention to Imam Makram El-Amin, leader of Masjid Al-Nur mosque in Minneapolis.
Choudhury’s thoughts about creating safe spaces for LGBTQ members aren’t welcomed by all Muslims, especially religious leaders. Munhazim says mosques in Minnesota don’t accept openly gay people and he’s been kicked out of mosques in the past. Imams say they take issue with those promoting homosexuality.
“It’s not within our paradigm, really, to change the word of God,” said Imam Makram El-Amin, leader of Masjid Al-Nur in Minneapolis.
“Our religion is clear about this matter. It’s not a lifestyle that we accept as being part of the natural way of things for human beings. When it comes to that, that’s my position, and that’s Islam’s position. And this incident as tragic and terrible as it is that does not change that,” he said.
El-Amin was one of several local religious leaders who came out after the shooting to say they stand in solidarity with LGBTQ members. But that doesn’t mean it’s an endorsement.
“We know that there are certain things that come up to the level of human rights that supersede even the differences that we have,” he said.
Lest you think that was a one-time comment from the imam…
The Qur’an is “pretty explicit in the fact that it is saying that this is not a lifestyle, or life choice, that is recognized as legitimate for Muslims,” said Imam Makram El-Amin of Minneapolis’s Masjid An-Nur. “It is not recognized as being what God intended for humans in terms of their relationships with one another.”
You know who worships at the Masjid Al-Nur in Minneapolis, right? Congressman Keith Ellison, now considered a leading candidate to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. And from news accounts, the two men are pretty close: “Imam El-Amin has counseled Ellison on religious issues and accompanied him on international trade trips.”
For what it’s worth, Congressman Ellison supports gay marriage and gays serving in the military. No word on whether he’s ever thought of homosexuality as “what God intended for humans in terms of their relationships.”
Now, from where I sit, everybody’s free to think whatever the heck they want about homosexuality, and everybody deserves equal protection under the law. There’s no point or good purpose served by haranguing Chip and Joanna Gaines about their pastor’s views, or any average Catholic about the Pope’s views, or Ellison about his imam’s views. There’s a strong argument to be made that trying to stir up furious public outcry over someone’s views about God and His teachings comes uncomfortably close to religious bigotry and discrimination.
But if we’re going to pick out some little-known Texas pastor and turn him into public enemy No. 1 over his traditional religious views on homosexuality, it doesn’t seem unfair to apply the same standard to other figures advising elected officials who make the country’s laws. In other words, BuzzFeed chose to take this tool out of the shed; they can’t complain when someone else starts using it.
Was it just eight years ago we were assured that the controversial and incendiary ranting and raving of Jeremiah Wright had absolutely no influence on the thinking of then-senator Barack Obama?
The Always-Convenient Gerrymandering Excuse
On Twitter, radio host and periodic CNN guest Roland Martin insists gerrymandering is why Democrats “are missing in the deep south.” (I would describe his views in more detail, but he’s blocked me.)
Gerrymandering, which involves redrawing U.S. House district lines to maximize partisan advantage, doesn’t really explain why there are so few Democratic senators and governors in the South. Florida has one Democratic senator and Virginia has two. There’s a Democratic governor in Louisiana and Virginia, and they appear to have narrowly won the North Carolina race this year. At the presidential level, Obama won Virginia and Florida twice and narrowly won North Carolina in 2008.
If gerrymandering was the primary reason for the GOP advantage, you would think Democrats would be able to win the occasional statewide race in places like Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, or Texas. Last year, Democrats held just one statewide office in the ten states below a line from Oklahoma to South Carolina: the Mississippi Attorney General’s office.
Blaming gerrymandering helps Democrats believe that their problems aren’t really their own fault, and that the elections are… well, “rigged.”
There’s a report that the Trump team has narrowed the options for Secretary of Veterans Affairs to former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown (R.) and Pete Hegseth, an Army veteran and former CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. There’s also a report from NBC News that Sarah Palin is in the mix.
Like Dan McLaughlin, I think overhauling and fixing the VA is one of the most important litmus tests for a successful Trump presidency. This was perhaps Obama’s most shameful, unforgivable failure, the colossal foul-up that generated the most bipartisan cries of outrage. Obama talked a good game on the campaign trail about a national commitment to taking care of our veterans, and then he and Eric Shinseki obliviously acted like everything was fine as problems grew worse. If Trump fixes this, and there’s broad satisfaction among veterans with the speed and quality of care, he will have gone a long way towards making America great again.
Brown and Palin are well-known. Hegseth is less-well-known, but there probably aren’t too many people who have thought longer or more deeply about how to give veterans better care. He’s already laid out a detailed, extensive, 100-page plan, working with experts like Senator Bill Frist, Representative Jim Marshall, and the king of all health-care policy wonks, Avik Roy.
No doubt Palin cares, but she brings the circus with her everywhere she goes. Brown would be a solid choice. But Hegseth would be bold — perhaps even revolutionary. It might be going a bit too far to declare that if Hegseth can’t fix the VA, it can’t be fixed. But he would probably be antimatter to the department’s complacency.
ADDENDA: Our friends at National Review Institute are seeking applications for (paid!) interns at their NYC offices.
The suits at NR are nudging us to ask for money again.