Marti Abernathey

It’s Not The Issues, It’s Your God

Filed By Marti Abernathey | February 25, 2008 11:48 AM | comments

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The Democratic candidate for Indiana's 7th Congressional District is in law enforcement, sits on the City-County Council, and is the grandson of an Indiana political legend, Julia Carson. Andre Carson wants to end the Iraq War, is against privatizing Social Security, and supports strengthening homeland security against another terrorist attack. Andre's link to the national party is strong, so much so that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted Carson for financial support.

With all these positives, where is Carson's Achilles' heel? The headline this morning answers the question: " 'I am multifaceted' Carson's Muslim faith, Farrakhan's funeral speech raise questions for congressional candidate. " The Associated Press states it even more bluntly: "Muslim has eye on Congress". I wonder if the Associated Press has ever written a story entitled "Baptist minister (or Mormon) runs for President" or  "Methodist runs against Andre Carson"? It seems that Andre's religion only matters because of what religion it is.

It's bad enough that the mainstream media thinks Andre's religion is fair game, but the right wing blogosphere takes it to a whole new level:

"Farrakhan Endorsed Muslim Makes Run For US Congress"

"Muslim with ties to Farrakhan may be headed to Congress"

"Muslims Seek Break Through In Carson Candidacy
"

The last post is from the blog Advance Indiana. The blogger behind Advance Indiana is local gay Republican attorney, Gary Welsh. Welsh can't seem to blog enough about Andre Carson. A Google search of his blog reveals 11 pages (157 posts ) that mention Andre Carson. Worst of all, many of his Carson posts are misleading. Example: "Carson Blames Grandmother For Farrakhan Ties." Welsh says:

Carson stuck to his story of blaming his grandmother for Farrakhan's presence at her funeral, saying the family simply respected one of her dying wishes. He also passed up another opportunity to repudiate what amounted to an endorsement of his candidacy by Farrakhan during his eulogy at her funeral.

This is the kind of journalism/blogging that would have made William Randolph Hearst proud. Carson "stuck to his story"? Welsh has NO PROOF that Andre was lying, but he frames it as a "story"?

Later Welsh says:

Despite his claims of inclusion, Carson saw no reason to apologize for Louis Farrakhan's eulogy at his grandmother's funeral or the bigoted and anti-Semitic religious leader's endorsement of his candidacy to succeed his grandmother in Congress.

Why in the hell would Andre Carson have to apologize for following his grandmother's wishes? Furthermore, why would he have to apologize for Farrakhan at all? I've read Welsh's blog for quite a while, but I've never heard him say that Rudy Gulliani should have apologized for Pat "we ought to assassinate Hugo Chavez" Robertson endorsing him.

Lastly, listen to this horrible diatribe that Farrakhan goes on:


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I'm not sure what part of Louis Farrakhan's beautiful eulogy Welsh thinks that Carson should apologize for. The Indianapolis Star's article reported that Julia Carson and Louis Farrakhan "go way back" and that Andre was only following through with her wishes.The connection between Julia Carson and Louis Farrakhan brings up some very interesting questions. Could it be that Carson was like Obama, in that she could bridge the gaps between different parts of her constituency? Carson was a staunch supporter of GLBT issues in Indiana. Farrakhan is not the most queer friendly person in the world.

When the Human Rights Ordinance didn't pass the City County Council the first time around, it was Julia Carson who was highly critical of Ron Gibson, Steve Talley, Sherron Franklin, and Patrice Abdullah for not supporting the HRO (at a Democratic Dinner, no less).

Julia also stated on Bilerico in 2006 that :

I am opposed to efforts to amend the Constitution to limit the rights of our people--this contradicts our entire history and our basic values as a nation.

I have long been an active and energetic supporter of funding for HIV/AIDS services, prevention programs and research. Many who have followed the history of the effort in Indiana will recall that, as Ryan White lay hospitalized at Riley Children's Hospital, I battled in our State Senate to help the General Assembly understand that our state and our nation faced a very real health crisis, by calling attention to Ryan's situation and taking Elton John, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, along with state legislators, to his bedside. In Congress I have worked hard to increase funding for efforts to address and turn back this terrible disease. This fight is not over.

I am a sworn enemy of discrimination on account of race, gender and sexual orientation and have long worked in that cause. Here in Indianapolis those who followed the matter will recall that I worked hard to see to it that our City-County Council understood the importance--the fundamental fairness--of protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. I was gratified when the council finally voted correctly, against bigotry, a familiar old enemy.

Indianapolis is my home. The treatment of our people and the improvement of their lives has always been vitally important to me. I worked hard for the passage of the ordinance, helping individual counselors to understand its importance as a matter of basic democratic and human values, and would do it again to make our city a better place. In Congress I work to support efforts to advance human rights and oppose efforts to erode those rights.

Andre has assured me that he will continue his grandmother's legacy as an advocate for the GLBT community, regardless of who his friends are, or what religion they are.

If Mr Welsh would like to play the blame by association game, he need only go as far as his candidate. Jon Elrod's website design team has connections to anti-gay activists.

For once, I agree with Abdul:

To not vote for Carson because he is a Muslim is the same as not voting for Mitt Romney because he was a Mormon. The founding fathers were pretty sharp guys with not wanting a religious test for anyone to hold public office. To solely judge an individual based on their faith is a bad idea. Religion can gives us an idea about the candidate, but it is just a facet.

It is their position on issues and the leadership they can provide should be the true test of whether they are worthy of your vote.

But in the end that's exactly what supporters of Elrod fear. Talking about the issues might shed light on the fact that Elrod mirrors George W. Bush on just about every major issue.

cross posted to Rabid Yellow Dog
and Blue Indiana


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I agree that Carson's religion shouldn't be used as a wedge issue. It's blatantly wrong. I have my own post coming on this later today, in fact.

That said, I still don't think Carson is the best candidate for Congress. Again I'm stuck with holding my nose and picking the least offensive. I can't fathom sending another Republican to Congress, but at the same time I want to send someone that I think will get the job done.

I do feel compelled to point out a few things though...

The Democratic candidate for Indiana's 7th Congressional District is in law enforcement, sits on the City-County Council, and is the grandson of an Indiana political legend, Julia Carson.

Carson is NOT in law enforcement. He was with the Excise police for a while, but was investigated for getting the job due to his grandmother's influence. The leadership team that gave him the job were axed, but - shocker! - Carson's job was saved and the records used as evidence somehow disappeared.

Carson was appointed to the CCC and not elected by the public. He "won" his regular term after the city allowed his name to be put on the ballot after the deadline and there was no opponent. Hardly a decisive victory.

Big deal that his grandmother was Julia Carson. George W is George Bush's son. We can see how well that worked out...

This is the kind of journalism/blogging that would have made William Randolph Hearst proud.

I've known you for years, dear. You've done quite a bit of puff pieces and yellow journalism yourself. :) In fact, quite a bit of this one is a puff piece for Andre.

Let me be clear though - I think attacking Carson for his faith is ludicrous and xenophobic. Especially when there are many other "Achilles heels" you can hit.

That said, I still don't think Carson is the best candidate for Congress. Again I'm stuck with holding my nose and picking the least offensive. I can't fathom sending another Republican to Congress, but at the same time I want to send someone that I think will get the job done.

I've heard many David O supporters say he's not the best candidate, but I've not really heard to many people articulate why. The only reason I've heard from you is you said in previous post that

Carson is NOT in law enforcement. He was with the Excise police for a while, but was investigated for getting the job due to his grandmother's influence. The leadership team that gave him the job were axed, but - shocker! - Carson's job was saved and the records used as evidence somehow disappeared

.

Last I checked, the excise police are considered law enforcement. The other claims you made, can you back that up with proof? It sounds suspiciously like Republican rhetoric.

Carson was appointed to the CCC and not elected by the public. He "won" his regular term after the city allowed his name to be put on the ballot after the deadline and there was no opponent. Hardly a decisive victory.

What is your point? He IS on the CCC, regardless of how he got there. I didn't say he was elected, I did say it was a positive.

I've known you for years, dear. You've done quite a bit of puff pieces and yellow journalism yourself. :) In fact, quite a bit of this one is a puff piece for Andre.

Let me be clear though - I think attacking Carson for his faith is ludicrous and xenophobic. Especially when there are many other "Achilles heels" you can hit.

Apparently, you don't know what yellow journalism is. It isn't doing puff pieces, but includes deliberately inaccurate information.

It's a shame that you'd engage in the same nasty rhetoric that Republicans.

A.J. Lopp | March 1, 2008 8:03 PM

While so many Christians go around thinking that Muslims will go to Hell, I am willing to leave that decision up to God and His Wisdom. I know a lot of Muslims that I respect more than I do the average Christian.

I do not know if Andre Carson is the best candidate, and I don't think that Julia being his grandmother should garner him all that many points. However, I do think that targeting non-Christian candidates is despicable. The US Constitution says that there shall be no religious test for public office, and I believe that that should be the public attitude as well. I have no problem with voting for a good Muslim candidate, especially until their percentage of representation at federal and local levels reflects their percentage in the general population of that jurisdiction. I believe that democracy (our democratic republic, actually) works best when the diversity of our leaders reflects the diversity of the populace.

Unfortunately, Farrakhan is indeed anti-semitic, anti-white, and anti-GLBT, and anyone who is willing to add to Farrakhan's power, by being a follower, has to answer for those positions. The historical fact that apparently Elijah Muhammad was behind the assassination of Malcolm X also gives me great caution at supporting any member of the Nation of Islam. (On the other hand, I have no problem commending the Nation of Islam on their projects in the black communities to fight poverty, promote good health, and encourage education, some of which are very good.)

The way one examines a candidate can properly be quite subtle: I think attacking a candidate for being simply non-Christian is cheap, but one can properly object to specific positions of specific religious organizations, both Christian and non-Christian.

My whole point was that he's shown that he's going to follow in the footsteps of Julia.

As far as Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, I'm not sure how that relates to Andre. He is a Sunni Muslim and attends prayers at the Nur-Allah Islamic Center which is not affiliated with the Nation of Islam.


Honestly, I just wish people would study the issues and vote accordingly.