On MSNBC, Rep. Keith Ellison Calls Out Ted Cruz's Reliance On Anti-Muslim Hate Group Leader Frank Gaffney
Ellison: Frank Gaffney "Is A Primary Chief Hater And The Moral Equivalent Of David Duke"
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From the March 23 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
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CHRIS HAYES (HOST): So Representative, let me start by asking your reaction to watching this debate play out around Ted Cruz's proposal.
REP. KEITH ELLISON: Well, first of all, Chris, I'm so brokenhearted for the people of Brussels. My sympathies go out to them. I think it is incredibly sad that their tragedy ends up being a political football in the United States, and people like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump try to exploit this in order to make electoral gains. I mean, the fact is what both Trump and Cruz have said is reprehensible, wrong, unconstitutional, counterproductive and bad policing as Bill Bratton made very clear. It's bad policing, doesn't help us get safer, but it does undermine the rights of U.S. citizens and residents. I'm from Minnesota. I'm a few blocks away from where he might be talking about, in terms of Muslim neighborhoods. And I can tell you this neighborhood is full of excellent, hardworking, patriotic people who love this country and make it better all the time. I'm offended for them. I'm offended with them. And we're not going to let go of our American value system, just because Cruz is scared and doesn't want to actually do the hard work of making America safe, but would rather just scapegoat a religious minority.
HAYES: Are you concerned about putting the genie back in the bottle from the perspective of rhetoric? I mean, it's just been striking to me how normalized things in, you know, prominent figures in American political life now, talking in a generalized way about Muslims as a group, that if people talk that way about Jews, about "the blacks" in that way, that we would rightly recoil in horror. It would violate some very important and justified social taboos. Do you worry about where the rhetoric's gone?
ELLISON: Yes. I'm actually pretty concerned about the rhetoric. As you know, there are these open calls about "the Muslims" but Ted Cruz has one of the foremost haters as a top adviser. Frank Gaffney is one of his -- is treated like a legitimate political adviser, where this man, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center is a primary chief hater and the moral equivalent of David Duke. So this -- so we are at a critical stage, and real cause for concern, but it's not just Muslims. I mean, remember, Trump started out talks about how Mexicans are bringing drugs and crime, and some are rapists, moved on to making horrific statements about women. Actually Trump did say "The blacks," and maybe has made racist statements over the course of time. We are -- the political discourse has gone down on the extreme right, and they've exhibited features of fascism, quite frankly, and have caused great concern. And -- but I think vigilance is what's required here, calm and making sure that we adhere to our American values.