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My Take: NYPD’s use of anti-Islam film makes us less safe
U.S. Rep Keith Ellison in a Minnesota mosque last August.
February 16th, 2012
04:20 PM ET

My Take: NYPD’s use of anti-Islam film makes us less safe

Editor's Note: Congressman Keith M. Ellison represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District and co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

By Rep. Keith M. Ellison, Special to CNN

Recent news that the New York Police Department presented the film “The Third Jihad” to nearly 1,500 officers is only the latest example of anti-Muslim training materials being used in ways that harm our national security.

The film baselessly contends that “the true agenda of much of Islam in America” is to “infiltrate and dominate America,” smearing a religion that has been part of this country since its founding. Incidents like these sound the alarm on the need for greater transparency and oversight of counterterrorism training at all levels of government.

The NYPD’s use of “The Third Jihad” is disturbing because it leaves officers with the impression that American Muslims are the enemy, not an ally against terrorism. This notion hurts the ability of law enforcement to do its job. No one knows this better than the brave officers who have stood up to such bigotry – it was NYPD officers who objected to the screening of the film, just as it was FBI agents who recently objected to using equally harmful training materials at the bureau.

“The Third Jihad” was produced by the Clarion Fund, a group that lacks national security credentials but is flush with cash. Far-right wing donors gave the Clarion Fund $18 million between 2001 and 2009 to drive their political agenda through Islamophobic films. The group mailed its last film, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” to 28 million swing state voters weeks before the 2008 election.

The who’s who of the Islamophobic fringe leads the Clarion Fund. During the 2008 presidential campaign, one Clarion advisory board member advanced the conspiracy theory that then-Senator Barack Obama was secretly a Muslim (as if it should matter).

Another Clarion board member has said that “Most mosques in the United States are actually engaged in – or at least supportive of – a totalitarian, seditious agenda they call Sharia.” Americans of all political stripes, including former Bush Administration officials, have dismissed these extreme statements

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that whoever approved the request for Commissioner Raymond Kelly to appear in the film “exercised some terrible judgment.” The mayor is right. Not since D.W. Griffiths’ racially charged “The Birth of a Nation” made in 1915 has a film sought to stoke so much fear about one group of American citizens.

Now more than ever, it is critical that law enforcement build relationships with the Muslim community to better fight against terrorism. In my hometown of Minneapolis, the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim community is so strong that international dignitaries have visited to learn about our model. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has said he was able to solve several high-profile crimes only because Muslim community members voluntarily came forward to share information with the police.

The great majority of national security experts view American Muslims as partners – and for good reason. A study last year by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security showed that most tips regarding domestic terrorism come from the American Muslim community (the American Muslim who tipped off police about the attempted car bombing of Times Square in 2010 is one such example. The Triangle Center reported last week that terrorism by American Muslims poses a “minuscule” threat – not a single one of last year’s almost 17,000 murders was a result of Islamic extremism.

Ensuring the public trust is critical to fighting terrorism. As Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2010, “the cooperation of Muslim and Arab-American communities has been absolutely essential in identifying, and preventing, terrorist threats.” American Muslims are well positioned to identify potential terrorists, but it’s harder to win their trust when police departments partner with the CIA to conduct surveillance, train officers to view Muslims as terrorists, or spy on Muslims purely because of their religion.

Trust can be restored only if law enforcement agencies hold individuals accountable for using prejudicial materials and create new mechanisms that ensure transparency and rigorous oversight. The result will be not only a more just society, but a safer one.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rep. Keith M. Ellison.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Opinion

soundoff (399 Responses)
  1. again?

    Islam is always the victim. What about the people that die for not reason because of Islam? America needs to wake up. Islam IS trying to conquer by infiltration. This peace and freedom we enjoy today will be taken away, by force and the threat of death, when Islam overtakes America. If he is following the true Islam, he cannot deny not wanting Sharia law in the US. That's why he is in politics. As soon as the opportunity strikes, and if given the opportunity, he would enforce Islam. There might be moderate muslims out there, but, if they follow Islam, there should be NO moderate muslims.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Kat

      yea because the 1% Americans who are Muslim own the white house, congress, the feds, media, banks, wall st, the pentagon, military industry and are conspiring secretley to use their massive power in politics, economy and military to brainwash Americans into Islam...hahaha....The people who have America by the balls are the ZIonazi Islamphobes who are itching for WW3, Armgeddon, racial supremacist Messiah and $$ making temples.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • O.S. Bird

      And if CHristians were to follow the Bible, there would be no moderate Christians. So what's your point? I see *both* religions as poison.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  2. ZorakLives

    Religion is neither good nor evil. It's just an idea. Like any idea, Islam can be used to justify both good and bad acts. In of itself, it's inherently morally netural. That said, to assert that Islam is an ally against terrorism and that Islam was a part of the U.S. from its very beginning is difficult to support. How many Muslims were there in the U.S. in 1776? How many terrorist organizations currently resisting the U.S. are composed primarily of Muslims? Yes, let's encourage tolerance, but let's not delude ourselves in the process.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Rosstrex

      Zorak – you need to read the Koran and especally the Hadith before you make statements like "morally neutral". Please read the Koran and study the life of Mohammed. Then speak to us about how moral Mohammed was and Islam is.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • vmprophet

      Actually, a lot of Muslims were in the us in 1776, they were just known as Slaves, and were most commonly referred to as Mohamedans, a common reference for Muslims back then because they followed Muhammad, just like Christians follow Christ. You can easily google it.

      And yes, the overwhelming majority of terrorists who are fighting the us are Muslim, thats just a fact. But as you said, religion can be used for good or bad, as long as humans are involved in anything they will find a way to screw it up

      February 16, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • vmprophet

      @Rosstrex, I think you should take your own advice regarding reading the Quran. Everything is right there in black and white, so go ahead and point out a verse that is Immoral, or offensive. Oh and because I know you will point out verses from Sura 9, 2, and 5, please dont just post one verse, list the one before and after the verse.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Kat

      it is true too that American terrorists killed 100,000's of Muslims in illegal wars. Let alone those wounded and made homeless.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • Rosstrex

      Morally Neutral – VM?

      [2.191] And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.

      This is one of many verses that commands muslims to kill. Allah is so weak that he cannot take care of the unbelievers, muslims must.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • vmprophet

      @Rosstrex LMAO thats just sad. Did you notice that I told you what Chapters you would post from, I already knew you would go to chapter 2, why? because thats what people like you do, you just pick and choose, its the same reason I SAID, and you can read my response to you above, that if your going to post from chapter 2, dont just post one verse, post the verse that came before or after. Let me help you out:

      2:190 You may fight in the cause of God against those who attack you, but do not aggress. God does not love the aggressors.

      right off the bat it tells you to fight those who attack you, that makes it a self defense think, it also says dont be the agressor

      now, 2:191 as you post it also says kick them out where they kicked you out, the very verse you posted to show the immorality you speak off, is pointing out that THEY KICKED YOU OUT OF YOUR HOME, so you have a right for fight back and get back what they took from you. its just so sad and laughable this ignorance your displaying. Its not even fun arguing or pointing it out, just sad

      February 16, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • vmprophet

      @Rosstrex oh and here is 2:192, the verse you neglected to mention

      "if they refrain, then God is Forgiver, Most Merciful."

      2:193 "You may also fight them to eliminate oppression, and to worship God freely. If they refrain, you shall not aggress; aggression is permitted only against the aggressors."

      AGGRESSION IS PERMITTED ONLY AGAINST THE AGGRESSORS. just a sample of the verses you neglected to list. Like I said before, its just sad

      February 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  3. doc

    If you watch the film, it is very fair and truethful.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Kat

      you mean it is bigoted and discieving, a hate propaganda movie intended to spread hate and persecution of Muslims. It is reminiscent of the anti-semitic "elders of zion" book. Muslims are not secretly conspiring against the US. They are loyal citizens who increasingly have to deal with discrimination, hate crimes and mainstream politics attacks. It has become politically correct to bash innocent Muslim citizens. It gets you more votes among the accepted bigots.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  4. Kat

    Zionazi hate/war mongers would have us believe that the 1% Americans who are Muslim own the white house, congress, the feds, media, banks, wall st, the pentagon, military industry and are conspiring secretley to use their massive power in politics, economy and military to brainwash Americans into Islam...hahaha....The people who have America by the balls are the ZIonazi Islamphobes who are itching for WW3, Armgeddon, racial supremacist Messiah and $$ making temples.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  5. The Central Scrutinizer

    She danced

    Each jewel on her gown flying outward

    Perhaps never to return

    Each shiny gem in a cloud of total darkness

    She danced and she sang

    Her gown twirling like a pinwheel faster and faster still
    Soon to become many

    And many to become light

    And that light to become trillions of sparkles

    Still she danced

    And now the swirls were as giants dancing

    And the dancing giants would collide in beautiful confusion

    And forever the spinning would last

    Unless it stopped.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  6. Lewtwo

    "Muslims are the enemy, not an ally against terrorism"
    Perfectly accurate statement. Isallm is the same the world over. There are not separate Korans for each region of the world.
    IIslam: The world's largest organized hate group.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • O.S. Bird

      WIth Christains running a very close second.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  7. The Central Scrutinizer

    Heaven is a place in Hell.

    A place where Angels and Demons dwell.

    The bell rings, the Devil Swings and on God’s throne he begins to dwell.

    Looking through space and time the duality of the immortals shine.

    The singing begins and the song is one of the infinite.

    Universes are sung, Galaxies too.

    Stars and planets and me and you.

    But we can hear the singing not.

    For we are here on this planet caught.

    The web we weave to cry and deceive.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
  8. The Central Scrutinizer

    My thorns, now flies.

    Buzzing around my gruesome head and face.

    My wasted body……finally brought down. Breathe still in me, just a whisper.

    Nurtured and cleansed. Bandaged and cared for.

    Now I am risen to say my final farewell.

    Do not worship me.

    Do not mourn for me.

    Do not build churches for me or profit from me.

    I am a man, born of a woman from the seed of my father.

    I am as you are. A man and a human being.

    Learn from the sacrifices I have made. Learn from the hypocrisy.

    Bury me in good company. Remember me as a friend.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  9. Islam is one sick crew

    rag headed rug rubbers

    February 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  10. Just Thinking

    Surprised no one has mentioned the honor killings: husband chopping his wife's head off in NY, Canadian family killing their daughters and one of dad's wives, etc.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Kat

      yea becaue domestic violence, murder of children, and murder crimes between non-muslim couples is unheard of...don't make me laugh..haaaaaaaaaahahahaha

      February 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • BG

      So, what're you saying, Kat?

      You love the sound of Coptic laughter in the morning?

      February 16, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Naeem

      It is so refreshing to see Islam haters fuming in their own rage and anger. Did you know Islam is the fastest growing religion in the US with thousands of Americans reverting to it.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Rosstrex

      Kat – So the domestic violence you mention is religous in nature? Christians, Jews, Buddhists and others kill their daughters and wives because they are not Christian enough or Jewish enough or Buddist enough? You laugh as if killing in the name of god is somehow the same as killing out of anger or greed or because of substance abuse.

      If you are a Muslim this is disturbing that you would miss the reality of why non-muslims refuse to believe in a "prophet" that murdered thousands of people to take over a city. That is the divide between us.. God does not need his followers to murder his children. This is something muslims obviously have missed.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Kat

      Ross, HA! so when non-muslims do it it must be because of drugs and anger and passion but when Muslim criminals do it it must be because of Islam....lol...your ignorance and bigotry is showing. Islam forbids murder, let alone "honor killing". It is a cultural practice by people of various religions (christian included) who reside in certain regions of the world.
      You're confusing prophet Muhammad with Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, and the other peaceful prophets/religious warriors in the Old Testicles. Prophet Muhammaded never murdered 1000's, let alone to take over a city. Thats why the Old Testicles prophets kept doing and what Jesus is supposed to do too when he returns, according to the New Testicles.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Rosstrex

      Kat – Mohammed personally lead 9 of 27 military campaigns during his lifetime – Please look it up. Mohammed in the koran and Hadith chronicle a murderous warlord bent on the take over of Mecca. He did take Mecca and then promply killed 600 members of the Quizra tribe. Look it up please.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • O.S. Bird

      Rosstrex: No, the CHristian god doesn't need someone to do his killing. He does it himself, and very efficiently too. Children, virgins, young and old, he line's them up and smites the you-know-what out of them.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Kat

      Ross, lol, no, you look it up. You must hang out too much in ww christian lies dot co m

      February 16, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Rosstrex

      Kat – your insults and childish attacks just show how lost you really are.

      February 17, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  11. Rosstrex

    Nice article but including lies written by the Triangle Center weakens your point.

    The Triangle Center reported last week that terrorism by American Muslims poses a “minuscule” threat – not a single one of last year’s almost 17,000 murders was a result of Islamic extremism.

    The reason this is a lie is because they are forgetting the murders in New York, New Jersey and Arizona of Muslim wives and daughters that were not "Muslim" enough. To say that murdering your Wife or Daughter because she is too Western is not extremist is ridiculous.

    CNN is on a mission to convince the US that Muslims are following a peaceful religion.

    Islam is not peaceful it is violent, oppressive and deadly if you dare to speak against it in every single Islamic State on the planet. Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Ahamadis, Shea and Sunni Muslims are all murdered on a daily basis across the world in the name of Islam.

    The representative from Michigan would have us turn a blind eye to what is happening to every single religious group unfortunate enough to live in an Islamic State or Islamic majority country.

    I support the City of New York in their vigilance and I denounce the LIE that Islam is peaceful as the preceding statements would get me attacked, jailed or even killed if I was typing this in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt and many, many more.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Kat

      yea it was some Muslim leader who speaks to his "heavenly father" who got the votes of millions of fanatic believers twice who lied to his people, forged evidence to justify wars and invaded America to change its way of life by force, murdering, torturing and making homless millions of people on way, right? twisted fundi Zionazis scmbag

      February 16, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Rosstrex

      Kat – I share your rage with Bush. I cannot tell you why a man claiming to be a Christian could have lead this nation into wars that were obviously for Oil and not to avenge 9/11. I for one doubt that 9/11 was committed by 30 guys with box cutters.

      You have the false impression that Bush is Christian. Look up his life and his "conversion" convenianly just before he ran for Govenor of Texas. Bush is about as Christian as the sky is purple.

      I know you have alot of hatred for anyone that speaks out against Islam but I cannot ignore what is happening in the name of Islam.

      Ask yourself this: If Islam is the final revelation then why cannot men follow it properly? Why is Islam divided if it is indeed the final revelation. Would not God send a prophet that would leave one unified religion to worship him?

      February 16, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  12. dinak

    Yes, I am sure that CNN and the liberal politicians would be equally outraged were the NYPD to have watched videos about the dangers of the Tea Party. Give m a break. CNN would have produced the video gratis it they had the opportunity.I love the way negative knows no bounds on the left when their focus is a conservative – but discuss the real dangers of a group that liberals are sympathetic toward- which includes Muslims, then oh, no, that cannot be discussed or broadcast. I'd love to see CNN do one of their 'truth detector" pieces on Obama or any liberal groups statements, predictions, and outcomes. Won't happen.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  13. Watson

    We must stop Islam. The history of Islam is a history of violence and attempted conquests (look it up why don't you). Islam is a "religion" of war and intolerance. When will Americans on wake up?

    February 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • DB

      Get OUT OF MY COUNTRY you bigoted piece of garbage.

      Signed,
      A non-Muslim God loving American

      February 16, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • DB

      Signed,
      A non-Muslim God loving oblivious American

      February 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • O.S. Bird

      When will Americans wake up? It might be a while. We're still tired from the Crusades.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • O.S. Bird

      Repeating things over and over and over, day in and day out doesn't help anything. It just get people to avoid your posts, even when you, rarely, post something different. Think about it.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  15. petemg

    To me Muslims are not helping things any either. They come to America for freedom but they do not leave their troubles behind. They come to this country expecting us to bow to their way. I can appreciate their strength in dressing in the way they do, but when they apply for jobs that they know have dress codes. They wear their scarfs or whatever you call them but they demand that everybody has to hire them even if it is a health code. Yes they pray what five times a day, expecting their place of employment to have breaks according to their prayer times. But if a Christian wants to take off to pray, they cannot. they have to do it either during their work time or wait until break time. I have tried to befriend Muslims but they do not want to touch my hand. I have been taught that Muslims feel we are nobodys. What do they expect us to change for them. Whenever a woman from this part of the world visits the Muslim world they are supposed to dress the way the Muslim women do. When a Muslim woman comes here, she dresses as she wants. To gain respect you should respect others.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • zai

      America is a nation of immigrants. Who we are is a mosaic of various different cultures. The difference in cultures in other countries isn't as varied as it is here. That is why a women going to a Muslim country covers up – it si out of respect for the culture of that region. Immigrants to the US have also adopted some of the bits and pieces of the existing cultures already in the US.

      Btw, no one expects you to "bow" to their way. All anyone asks is that you respect them and their culture. how about we all live and let live?

      February 16, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • BG

      @ zai

      Go sell that to the Muslims and see the reaction you get.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  16. mike hunt

    yea, but the film is true! why would you be against something that speaks the truth???

    February 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • zai

      Have you seen the film?

      February 16, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • BG

      I have. I found it objective and factual.

      Why don't you tell us what in the film is fabricated?

      February 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  17. Just Thinking

    From a purely logical perspective, this article is completely self-defeating. Regardless of your stance of the whether the video is good or bad-I don't know I have seen it and neither have you-there is an issue with terrorism that is undeniable (USS Cole, Pentagon, Twin Towers, Fort Hood, etc). To deny the problem is to admit clear bias and close-mindedness.

    The premise is SHOWING THE VIDEO MAKES US LESS SAFE. In other words, we would be safer from terrorism without showing the video. If terrorism is real (and indeed it is), then the only way to help protect against it is to educate. But the author says this makes us less safe. This is poor high school logic at its best.

    The author should be offering better ways to protect from terrorism and educate instead of taking cheap illogical shots at someone else who is trying. But I guess that's what makes us Americans...we don't really want to take the tough steps to fix any issues, we just want to blast anyone else who tries.

    Ellison has achieved ABSOLUTELY NOTHING POSITIVE with this article, and he knew he wouldn't. His only objective was to create a stir, which he accomplished.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • zai

      i agree with you. Terrorism is definitely a threat around the world. Instead of just pointing out flaws, he should give an alternate solution. How about trying to figure out the real motives behind the terrorist actions and attack those?

      February 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • BG

      " ...the real motives behind the terrorist actions.."

      This is always laughable. You're either naive, or an Islamic propagandist.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  18. chuckmartel

    NYPD film makes us less safe Ellison? Is that some kind of threat?
    Some congressman.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  19. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things!

    † Atheism makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things.
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists causes problem in our religious society.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
    † No traditional family lifestyle, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    † Atheists are angry, alcoholics and committ the most crime.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    † Atheism have no holidays, no culture, no nothing. Waste of living in this planet...

    †† Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator ††

    February 16, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • O.S. Bird

      You, on the other hand, sound like a psychotic drug addict having hallucinations. Your spewings are so detached from reality.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Just Thinking

      Please don't use the Bible to spread your hate. It is holy and you should ask forgiveness for not loving your neighbor as yourself. What did Christ do when Peter lopped off the soldiers ear? What did Jesus say to Zaccheus?

      February 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Derangedcowbrain

      Your post does more to support atheism than any I have seen in a long time. Nicely done.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Andrew Feinberg

      It's like this is halfway between hate speech and satire.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:57 am |
  20. jlo

    This man is directly tied, and even paid by MAS and the Muslim Brotherhood – which now also means he's being paid to do things for another country's government party. He needs to be removed from his 'office' or whatever the term is in the US. Also all Muslim politicians must be scrutinized to ensure they do not work for anti-American-anti-West organizations.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.