The Edmond Sun


October 16, 2012

1st Muslim congressman speaks in OKC

OKLAHOMA CITY — U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., recently addressed a gathering at the Democratic Party of Oklahoma’s headquarters on Lincoln Boulevard in Oklahoma City.

The event was presided over by former state Rep. Wallace Collins who now serves as chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, and was part of a program that is known as “meet your Muslim neighbor” in which Muslims in the Oklahoma City and Edmond area invite people of other faiths to share a meal with them. Collins spoke of how State Question 759, which will be on the ballot in Oklahoma in November, would prohibit affirmative action in the state, and said that he believes that Oklahoma still needs affirmative action to allow African Americans and other minorities to fully participate in the state’s economy.

Imam Imad Enchassi of the Islamic Association of Greater Oklahoma City addressed the gathering, and spoke of the connections between Islam and Christianity. He pointed out that Jesus is mentioned 25 times in the Koran, and that many of the prophets that are referenced in the Old Testament, such as Abraham, Noah and Moses are also found in the Koran.

Enchassi said that “your Lord and our Lord are one,” and that we are “brothers from a different mother.”

Oklahoma state Sen. Connie Johnson introduced Congressman Ellison, and pointed out that he was the first member of the Islamic faith to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, and that the  Fifth Congressional district in Minnesota that he represents is overwhelmingly Christian. Johnson and state Rep. Anastasia Pittman presented Ellison with a commendation from the Oklahoma Legislative  Black Caucus that thanked him for the good work that he has done as a member of Congress to assist the less fortunate.

Ellison told the assembled guests that he and his fellow Democrats in Congress have sought to foster inclusive policies that will unite people rather than divide them. He decried the use of wedge issues by some groups in our society that have created division based on immigration status, sexual orientation and other matters.

The lawmaker said that many of the economic problems faced by working and middle class Americans are the result of the concentration of wealth in the hands of approximately 1 percent of the citizenry, and how that group has managed to ensure that its status is protected. He spoke of how Oklahomans approved a ballot measure several years ago that prohibited the introduction of Sharia law into Oklahoma courtrooms despite the fact that there was no recorded instance of any party seeking to apply that law in the state as an example of a measure designed to divide people.

The legislator also pointed out that by the year 2050 whites will be a minority in the U.S., and that many working class whites have ceased participating in the political process in recent years as they have been economically marginalized as many of the jobs that they used to fill have gone overseas. He urged attendees to make efforts to include white working people in the political system so that their needs will be addressed by it.

Ellison criticized Mitt Romney’s recent comments about his not trying to reach out to 47 percent of the citizenry, and said that it is necessary to include all Americans in efforts to revitalize the U.S. economy.

WILLIAM F. O’BRIEN is a retired Oklahoma City attorney.

Text Only
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014


Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

     View Results