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. Usman Akhtar

    Look at these videos and decide for yourself what we should do with these terrorists. Should we Capture them in Guantanamo bay, should we kill them or should we boom them who taught these terrorists the massage of terror? They are openly saying these things and not even scared from CIA, NSA, FBI and may be half dozen more of these departments. What are we going to do with the terrorist who taught these terrorists those things? These terrorists are everywhere, once they even chock our President and also once they even make him stumble and fall face first while he was president (Bush). These things work for the “One” these terrorists are saying the name of. After watching these videos think if it is still OK for you to lie to yourself and to your kids every day. Good Luck. Look Creators Creatures are saying HIS NAME “ALLAH”. I hope you will start living your life on True beliefs. You will never be able to get away from the truth. ALLAH’S Angels are everywhere with every human. Ask your Jewish friends how Mosses(AHS) was able to save Jews from Ferro. Also ask them Mosses(AHS) use to talk to GOD. Show them these videos so they can find their GOD. If they want to be in Paradise.
    Watch and see if anyone can deny.
    Watch where this Red car is going.
    Usman Akhtar

    February 18, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Reality

      They are called the Infamous Angelic Cons:

      Joe Smith had his Moroni.

      "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      February 19, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  2. ploome

    What make anyone think moslems in America have a different agenda than moslems anywhere else in this world. Look to see how religious minorities are treated in every single moslem majority country where moslems have the power.

    This is what islam demands.

    February 18, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  3. Jen06

    Newsflash, Keith. The film doesn’t make assumptions about what muslims plan to do. It points out what muslim leaders have said their goals are. There’s a difference.

    "From the 1880s to 1914, several thousand Muslims immigrated to the United States" (history of muslims in the US) but Keith thinks they have been around since its founding? Maybe he's thinking of the Barbary pirates?

    February 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  4. AGuest9

    "used in ways that harm our national security"

    I guess being from Minnesota, where the concept of national security pertains to "keeping Canadians from fishing on our side of the lake without a non-resident license", Rep. Ellison, elected in 2007, wasn't on Capitol Hill on the morning of 9/11, and has no clue what a clear and real danger jihadists present to our nation, as a whole.

    February 18, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  5. PeterK

    I guess Rep. Ellison didn't hear the news about a co-religionist who was arrested at the Capitol yesterday

    February 18, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  6. BoldGeorge

    This country has been less safe since abandoning our biblical Christian God. Of course Islam is taking a threshold of this country since people have been flushing Christianity down the drain. Hear me out (read rather), God abandons a nation and leaves it to the devil and the slaughterers if the nation has abandoned Him first. What's ironic is that this is all biblical. The good news is if we seek Him, He will seek us out as well. Just like Israel, they always abandoned God and when things got too tough for them to handle, they sought Him out again and God responded to their prayers.

    February 18, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  7. Reality

    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon?

    And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

    The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means. Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed.

    February 18, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  8. Alice

    Who knows God? Who among the living ever travelled to Heaven? For me divinity is the perfect Mystery. There is no such notion in islam. Their Allah is the source of destruction, death, and violence. They worship the devil instead of God. What I also do not like about islam is the force and agression with which its doctrine is being imposed in almost every part of the world.

    February 18, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  9. Enoch

    This guy is a disgrace to Americans!

    February 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  10. Paul

    Like everything else, islam and its threats (whatever these threats may be) should not be a forbidden topic. Religion in general needs discussion and openness although the way this is done in reality may not be ideally good. Some people are used to become excited or almost insane when they hear the word "God". Personally, I support the credal tenets of the DM Church, but I do not think my own belief system if flawless. I would like to see all religious groups to be critical toward themselves, this is needed to overcome all sorts of religious fundamentalism and extremism.

    February 17, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  12. Reality

    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon? And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror? The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means. Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed. Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein.

    Until then, no Muslim to include Keith M. Ellison can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................

    February 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  13. CG in San Diego

    The whole op-ed conveniently ignores the fact that regardless of how many "good" Muslims there are, there are still plenty of radical nutjobs who claim that they are fulfilling an Islamic religious objective in killing innocent people simply because they are "infidels". What is Mr. Ellison's approach to taking care of the real problem, aside from the whining and complaining that "good" Muslims are disadvantaged and prejudiced against? I'd like to hear his approach to solving the *real* problem, and not the secondary problem. Even if there was no prejudice against Muslims, there would still be fanatical Muslims trying to blow up infidels because they were taught that was the right thing for a Muslim to do.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  14. GrouchyKat

    Soon even our thoughts will be under state control. And no one will dare to have an opinion that is contrary to what the government wants us to believe.

    February 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  15. Anderson Pooper

    Hey Keith, Stick it up your nig ger ass.

    February 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  16. Yuyguar

    To a Young Ass
    its mother being tethered near it
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Poor little foal of an oppressèd race!
    I love the languid patience of thy face:
    And oft with gentle hand I give thee bread,
    And clap thy ragged coat, and pat thy head.
    But what thy dulled spirits hath dismayed,
    That never thou dost sport along the glade?
    And (most unlike the nature of things young)
    That earthward still thy moveless head is hung?
    Do thy prophetic fears anticipate,
    Meek Child of Misery! thy future fate?
    The starving meal, and all the thousand aches
    "Which patient Merit of the Unworthy takes"?
    Or is thy sad heart thrilled with filial pain
    To see thy wretched mother's shortened chain?
    And truly, very piteous is her lot -
    Chained to a log within a narrow spot,
    Where the close-eaten grass is scarcely seen,
    While sweet around her waves the tempting green!

    Poor Ass! they master should have learnt to show
    Pity - best taught by fellowship of Woe!
    For much I fear me that He lives like thee,
    Half famished in a land of Luxury!
    How askingly its footsteps hither bend!
    It seems to say, "And have I then one friend?"
    Innocent foal! thou poor despised forlorn!
    I hail thee Brother - spite of the fool's scorn!
    And fain would take thee with me, in the Dell
    Of Peace and mild Equality to dwell,
    Where Toil shall call the charmer Health his bride,
    And Laughter tickle Plenty's ribless side!
    How thou wouldst toss thy heels in gamesome play,
    And frisk about, as lamb or kitten gay!
    Yea! and more musically sweet to me
    Thy dissonant harsh bray of joy would be,
    Than warbled melodies that soothe to rest
    The aching of pale Fashion's vacant breast!


    February 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  17. Carl

    While I don't like the idea of the NYPD handing out propaganda to its officers, I also don't see the legitimate value of CNN running the opinion of Keith Ellison, who is himself a muslim. OF COURSE he is going to say what he said above.

    February 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  18. Jon

    What a heaping pile of political correctness and taqiyya. I don't believe a word that comes out of Ellison's mouth when it comes to Islam.

    February 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  19. Judy

    NYPD is still reeling from the 9/11 conspiracies and need films like this to justify closure.

    February 17, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • AGuest9

      Do you believe in "FEMA Death Camps, too?"

      February 18, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  20. WBC

    More politically correct pablum from CNN. Islam encourages lying and murder for the Glory of Allah and the Prophet. Muslims are encouraged to gain the trust and friendship of Christians but forbidden to return actual friendship or to be trustworthy in fact. I'm sure there are, in fact, non-violent honest Muslims. But they didn't learn honesty or non-violence from Islam as it actually exists, and it is impossible to in fact verify that any Muslim is in fact acting honestly.

    February 17, 2012 at 11:15 am |
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About this blog

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.