December 13, 2015

Contact: Olivia Alperstein
Communications and Policy Associate
(609) 206-7920


Progressive Congress responds to Rep. steve king's remarks on reps. keith ellison and andré carson

We are profoundly disturbed by the comments made by Representative Steve King regarding Representatives Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, both of whom are Muslim.

On “Talking Points Memo,” Representative King thanked Donald Trump for proposing a ban on Muslims traveling to the United States and asked his Muslim Congressional colleagues to answer the question, “Which is superior, the Constitution or Sharia law?” That Representatives Andre Carson and Keith Ellison are not proponents of Sharia law seems to have escaped him.

Representative King continued, “You can’t be assimilated into the American civilization and accept Sharia law as being superior to our Constitution. It’s antithetical to Americanism.”

We, as Americans, are equipped to answer King’s challenge readily: of course Muslim Americans can and have “assimilated” into American culture. Our culture itself is made up of influences of many different faiths and nationalities. Our duly elected Members of Congress represent people from a wide array of backgrounds — that mix of cultures is what makes our own culture so strong. That is what we celebrate as Americans.

Our Statue of Liberty welcomes the poor, tired, huddled masses of the world without exceptions for religion, ancestry or skin color. Liberty in this country comes without an exclusionary clause.

The moment we start to label people as “un-American” because of who they are, we might as well just trash our Constitution and give up on our fundamental American values. Fear and ignorance will set us back. The times we have progressed most as a nation are when we have set fears aside and embraced forward-thinking progress.

Embracing people’s differences might scare the Steve Kings of the world, but let’s remember: our Founders were part of a group of people who fled persecution because of what they believed. Would King have turned them away from our shores because of their values?  Would King have rounded up all German Americans or Irish Americans and accused them of collusion or treason? Would he have turned away Albert Einstein — or his own ancestors, German and Irish immigrants seeking a bold promise of freedom?

It is un-American to discriminate against an entire group of based on their religion— it’s also un-Constitutional.  Representatives Andre Carson and Keith Ellison are the embodiment of real American values.  They have chosen to serve as elected officials and to fight for the rights of ordinary Americans. They serve as an inspiration for others.

We’ve spent decades overturning policies that were based on fear and ignorance— looking back, we are horrified that women and people of color were denied the right to vote. We are horrified that people once dunked men and women in ponds because they suspected them of being witches. We are long past the era of Joe McCarthy and his fear mongering. Let’s not let history repeat itself. Let’s defeat fear, ignorance, and terror.  Let’s get back to upholding our Constitutional values and recognize the true meaning of being an American.


Progressive Congress is a 501(C)3 organization based in Washington, D.C. that amplifies and strengthens connections between change makers in the grassroots Progressive community and lawmakers in Congress.