Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who is a Muslim, told Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on Sunday that he was making a mistake with calls to profile the Islamic community in the United States because similar actions in the past had created a “national stain” on the country.
NBC host David Gregory noted in a Sunday interview with both congressmen that King had insisted to the National Review that law enforcement should not be “bound by political correctness” after two Muslim men with a Chechen background were accused of carrying out bombings at the Boston Marathon.
“Absolutely,” King agreed. “What the NYPD is doing in New York with a thousand police officers focusing on this issue, knowing where the threat is coming from. Now, most Muslims are outstanding people, but the threat is coming from the Muslim community.”
“You’re a Muslim,” Gregory pointed out to Ellison. “This concerns you on civil libertarian grounds and other areas.”
“Well, I’m an American,” Ellison replied. “And I’m concerned about national safety — public safety — just like everyone is. But I think it’s ineffective law enforcement to go after a particular community. I think that what we need to do is look at behavior and follow those needs where they would lead.”
“Once you start saying, we’re going to dragnet or surveil a community, what you do is you ignore dangerous threats that are not in that community, and you go after people who don’t have anything to do with it,” he added, noting that the recent poison ricin letters sent to President Barack Obama and other elected officials were terrorist attacks that had not come from the Muslim community.
“And remember, we went after one community in World War II. And the Japanese internment is a nation stain on our country. And we are still apologizing for it.”
King interrupted: “No one is talking about internment! We are talking about following the Constitution.”
Watch this video from NBC’s Meet the Press, broadcast April 28, 2013.