Once again, the local Indianapolis media are ignoring the religious issue involved in the second Muslim being elected to Congress. A week ago relatively high voter turnout for a special congressional election propelled local city council member Andre Carson into Congress. He is facing a stiff Democratic primary battle in less than 8 weeks, and if he wins will run against the Republican nominee in the general election in November. Nationally and internationally, the story has been the fact that America's second Muslim was elected to Congress. Locally, the issue was hardly mentioned:
And although much has been made of his faith as a Muslim -- as well as the fact that controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan was among those who eulogized Carson's grandmother at her funeral -- Carson said his campaign had benefited from volunteers who crossed all age, racial, religious and social backgrounds.
As you can see in the above WashingtonPost.com video, Carson faced two big questions from reporters in Washington: how does he feel being the second Muslim elected to Congress, and what is he going to do what the Super Vote he now holds? There is no good answer for that second question (Indiana's Democratic party establishment is largely behind Sen. Clinton, and Carson doesn't want to alienate anyone with a primary election 8 weeks away), although Carson did have an interesting answer to the first question:
I'm honored to be. This is what democracy is all about. It's about America. I'm a proud Muslim, I'm a proud American, I'm a proud Hoosier. So I fit in very well along with brother Ellison.
One confusing part of that video is the question asked of Carson: "Is that the same Koran that Congressman Ellison was sworn in on?" Carson's response: "This is the U.S. Constitution." I can't tell from the video if that is actually a copy of the Constitution, but if it is, it's a rather large book version of a rather short document. Can anyone tell a difference?
It shouldn't make a huge substantive difference what document a person swears his oath of office, but it does reveal a bit of the person's character and heart. The historic symbolism behind Rep. Ellison's use of Thomas Jefferson's copy of the Koran was significant in many ways. The document Indiana's first Muslim representative in Washington, D.C., used to swear his oath of office should be worthy of some local news coverage.