Today's Blogs

The First Muslim Congressman

Bloggers, on the whole, welcome as a sign of progress the election of the first Muslim to Congress. They also try to suss out the troops’ reaction to Rumsfeld’s resignation and mourn the death of legendary telejournalist Ed Bradley.

The first Muslim congressman: Come January, Democrat Keith Ellison will be the first Muslim U.S. representative, not to mention the first black congressman from Minnesota. Ellison’s election dominated Middle Eastern headlines and has been hailed there as a positive indicator of American pluralism and tolerance. But some bloggers note accusations that the 43-year-old attorney downplayed his link to the Nation of Islam; in the past, Ellison has defended the group’s less-than-philo-Semitic leader, Louis Farrakhan.

At Lynne’s Parliament and Haringey diary, Lynne Featherstone, a Liberal Democratic British MP, is pleased by Ellison’s election: “From what I’ve seen of his views (such as two state solution to the Middle East and an endorsement from American Jewish World) this will be very good news - both because of the extra prominence it will give to non-Muslims that Muslim doesn’t equal extremist or terrorist and also because the more prominent moderate Muslims there are in leadership positions, the better for the Muslim community itself too.”

Vermont lefty Katharine at Cut to the Chase sees promise in Ellison: “Ellison’s win raises hopes from a House of too often Reprehensibles. Ellison is pro gay rights, pro a woman’s right to choose, for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, and progressive in approach to both health care and education.”

Tell that to conservative Minneapolis attorney Scott W. Johnson. At Power Line, Johnson is discomfited at the chanting of “Allahu Akbar” at the representative-elect’s victory rally and the news that Ellison will be the keynote speaker at an upcoming event hosted by the Council on Islamic-American Relations. Johnson has reproduced documents, and authored an article for the Weekly Standard, relating to Ellison’s association with the Nation of Islam, as well as his past defense of Louis Farrakhan regarding charges of anti-Semitism. Concludes Johnson: “1) Ellison’s involvement with the Nation of Islam exceeded any 18-month period, 2) Ellison’s involvement with the Nation of Islam extended far beyond the promotion of the Million Man March, and 3) that Ellison himself, far from being ignorant of the Nation of Islam’s anti-Semitism, actively supported it.”

Read more about Keith Ellison’s election. Get Slate’s coverage of the midterm elections here.

How’s it play in Anbar province? The New YorkTimes carried a story today about an Iraqi man who seems to be better versed in U.S. domestic politics than the soldiers he’s hosting. Asked by Hashim al-Menti about Donald Rumsfeld’s departure, one Marine replied, “Who’s Rumsfeld?”

Paul Woodward at foreign-policy blog The War in Context writes: “When an Iraqi trapped in his house in Anbar province understands more about American politics than the American soldiers occupying his house seem to understand about either American or Iraqi politics, it’s time to ask not only what America is doing in Iraq, but what is the nature of duty and military service if it can be so mindless? We romanticize the iconic figure of the soldier with the notion that he is willing to place the needs of the nation above his own, yet politely avoid asking how a nation can really be defended by those whose understanding of that nation is so limited.”

Conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters cites a Times of London piece on how the rank-and-file military are leery of a change in leadership at the Pentagon. Many supported Rumsfeld and worry about a hasty withdrawal from Iraq before their mission is completed. Morrissey adds: “It seems to me that any effort to ‘support the troops’ ought to at least involve their input. If they do not see Iraq as a lost cause, then they are right to wonder why so many Americans back home do. … [T]he perspective of the soldiers and Marines on the lines have been woefully underreported in the American media, and it’s somewhat embarrassing that we have to turn to a British newspaper to discover this unease at the change in Pentagon leadership.”

Read more about troop reaction to Rumsfeld’s resignation.

Ed Bradley, R.I.P.: Pioneer is the word most likely to appear in any obituary of Ed Bradley, the 60 Minutes anchor who died Thursday at age 65 from leukemia. Bradley was CBS’ first black White House correspondent and was celebrated for his on-air charisma as much as for his intelligent reporting and interviewing.

Gawker knows when to bow its head before a solemn occasion: “Among [60 Minutes’] roster of luminaries, no one exuded more cool, joy, and intensity than Ed Bradley, who passed yesterday. Younger readers probably know him only as the old guy with the earring, but Bradley, who was a sprightly (for that program) 65, was indeed a pioneer.”

Shanikka at Political Sapphirenever had a desire to be a journalist, but if I had wanted that, I would have wanted to be just like him. Piercing. Mellow. Able to get his subjects to open up and talk: Can anyone say that there was *ever* a more informative, HUMAN, interview than his with Timothy McVeigh as he sat on death row for the Oklahoma city bombing?”

Read more about Bradley’s passing.