Rep. Keith Ellison talks cynicism and social justice

On Wednesday night, Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) spoke in an auditorium filled with Georgetown students and faculty as per invitation from the GU College Democrats.

Ellison, who initially served two terms in the Minnesota State House of Representatives from 2002 to 2006, was elected to Congress in 2006, thus becoming the first Muslim to serve in Congress.

In his talk with students and faculty, the congressman, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus, made sure to highlight income inequality in the U.S. as one of the most serious faced by the nation today. “[The U.S.’s economic system] is being corrupted,” he said.

He focused heavily on the impact of student loans and high college tuition prices faced by working, middle class families, comparing other countries’ systems of education such as Germany and arguing that the U.S.’s education should not be the way that it is right now.

Nevertheless, the congressman urged young people not to give into cynicism and political apathy. He continued to cite civil rights leaders as examples of younger generations that made tangible changes within their political communities.

“Cynicism never solved any social problem; it never made anybody more equal; it never passed a bill; it never organized a rally…We need you to be active; we need you to be thinking; we need you to be writing,” Ellison said.

Other topics discussed by Representative Ellison include the Islamaphobia he encountered after being elected to Congress, and consequently, the need for religious pluralism and inter-religious understanding.

“At the end of the day, our nation has to make room for everybody, including the Muslim community,” he said. “I believe that fear will subside, that nobility and good faith will prevail; though it’s going to be a bumpy road along the way. And I am telling you, it is the responsibility of all of us to help this journey.”

Photo: Freedom to Marry via flickr

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