Muslim Congressman on Radical Islam Hearings: We Need Facts, Not Stereotypes


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 10, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


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BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: "Personal Story" segment tonight. As you may know, the Homeland Security Committee opened hearings on the jihad in America today. And one of the first witnesses was Congressman Keith Ellison from Minnesota, who is a Muslim. Mr. Ellison talked about a 23-year-old Muslim paramedic who was killed on 9/11.


REP. KEITH ELLISON, D-MINN.: Mohammed Salman was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. Life should not be identified as just a member of an ethic group or just a member of a religion. But as a man who gave everything for his fellow Americans.


O'REILLY: Joining us now from Washington is Congressman Ellison. Now, you told the committee today that you believe the hearings are stereotyping Muslims. But don't you want to know, Congressman, the facts about the jihad and some mosques? There are allegations as you know that extremism is being preached in some American mosques. Do you want to know that?

ELLISON: Well, I'm not sure I buy your basic premise either, Bill. But I will say this. I think that it's very important to understand as much as we can about violent extremism, in the Muslim community and throughout any community.

I mean, the fact is, is that my problem was the -- was the demonization of a singular community when as we know Timothy McVeigh, violent extremist, murdered Americans; Jared Loughner; people who committed horrific acts at Columbine. This is not simply a problem with the Muslim community but I, in fact, I am concerned about that problem, too.

And that's why I have spoken out and written and supported legislation on these points.

O'REILLY: All right. Now you said you don't understand my premise. What is my premise?

ELLISON: Well, you're using loaded words like jihad. I think that -- I think that if you were to talk to Muslim Americans, what you would find is that they are law-abiding people to try to help Americans --

O'REILLY: Well, I don't doubt that. But the investigation, the Homeland Security investigation is on the jihad in America. How extensive is?

ELLISON: No, it's on violence -- it's on -- it's on violent extremism.

O'REILLY: All right, which is pretty much what jihad is, a holy war using violent tactics to advance the cause of Islam. Ok, I don't want to get caught up again.

Now, I asked this question to Alan Colmes and he couldn't answer it so I'm hoping that you can. 1962, Robert Kennedy was Attorney General of the United States. And they did a big, big exposition of organized crime centering on Italians in America.

Now, at the same time, there was, other crimes committed by other ethnicities. But, the hearings and the focus was on the Mafia, Italian organized crime. I think this is just about the same thing in the sense that one ethnicity; one religion is being singled out for investigation. Absolutely right on that. Ok?

ELLISON: No, you are wrong about that, Bill, I'm sorry. You're incorrect.

O'REILLY: How am I -- how is it wrong?

ELLISON: Well, it would be similar if -- an attorney general said we're going to investigate Italians and radicalization or criminal acts among Italians.

O'REILLY: Well, that's what Kennedy did.

ELLISON: That's not -- no, that's not what he did. What he did is he said we're going to investigate a specific criminal organization. And today --

O'REILLY: That was made up of all Italians.

ELLISON: -- wrong, that's not the point. The point is if Peter King said we want to do an investigative hearing on al Qaeda, you would have no argument with me. I would say absolutely go get them.


ELLISON: I would have recommendations to how you did it --

O'REILLY: Well, maybe he should have. You know, it that -- if that's your feeling, maybe he should have targeted down and just do what I'm doing, we're going to investigate the jihad in America.

All right now, look, Frank Gaffney, do you know Frank Gaffney --

ELLISON: Well --

O'REILLY: -- do you know him and his group?

ELLISON: No. I'm not familiar with him.

O'REILLY: Ok, you should be and I'm not saying that in a condescending way because you would be very interested in -- in what Mr. Gaffney has to say. He and his organization allege that violent extremism and Sharia law is being condoned in 75 percent of the American Muslim mosques.

ELLISON: That's absurd. That's absurd and ridiculous.

O'REILLY: Ok, now that is his contention.

ELLISON: He's wrong.

O'REILLY: Isn't it worthy -- isn't it worthy if Congressman King and I hope he calls Gaffney. And I hope he calls Gaffney and say back this up. Isn't it worthy if that committee, the Homeland Security Committee could debunk this? Now, I don't know if it's true or not but I would like to know if it's true.

ELLISON: Well, let me ask you this. Why -- why won't -- I would rather that Congressman King call in the attorney general. Call in the FBI. Call in experts on the -- in the field who are learned and -- and published --

O'REILLY: I assume he will. I assume that's going to happen.

ELLISON: -- and have peer -- and have peer-reviewed information to share.

Now, you might have some individual who has some opinions and that's fine. But you -- we need to get facts, not stereotypes.

O'REILLY: I -- I'm with you. You and I agree a thousand percent this is what I said last night. Get the facts on the table. Stop the hysteria.

ELLISON: Yes but you know what --

O'REILLY: And I think King is going to do that.

ELLISON: -- well, I hope he does. But you offered this individual, who I don't know, but it sounds like this allegation that he's making is not credible and has no merit --


O'REILLY: Well, that -- look --

ELLISON: -- and so I think that --

O'REILLY: -- that's what. That is what --

ELLISON: -- let's start --

O'REILLY: Go ahead. Go ahead.

ELLISON: -- let's -- let's start with what we -- with credible witnesses who actually have valid information to share. Let's call Eric Holder. Let's call Muriel from the FBI.

O'REILLY: I think that's why I'm with you 100 percent -- I want to see those guys.

ELLISON: Let's call people who know what they're talking about.

O'REILLY: I want to see those guys but I also want to see Gaffney and I want to see Gaffney can back it up. I might have Gaffney on this program next week.

ELLISON: I don't want to -- I don't want to see anybody who -- who is just throwing around allegations and stereotypes.

O'REILLY: No -- no but you want -- you should, Congressman.

ELLISON: Irresponsible information.

O'REILLY: -- you should want to see that. Because if he gets up there in front of that committee --

ELLISON: No, I don't.

O'REILLY: -- and he's got bupkis (ph) and he can't back it up, they are gone. You should want that.

ELLISON: No. Congress needs to focus its attention on high value information, not just naked stereotypes --

O'REILLY: All right.

ELLISON: -- that anybody can toss around.

O'REILLY: Congressman, we really appreciate your time tonight. We know you are very busy. Thank you.

ELLISON: Thank you. Thank you Bill.