Q: Do you think the film and other recent incidents have made Americans more open to the idea of banning some kinds of speech?
A: American Muslims can explain to the rest of the world how free expression works. . . . I was in the [San Francisco] Bay Area recently talking to groups, and in Minneapolis, just folks. They get it. You could be on the Internet for five minutes and hear people say Islam is a mental illness. If you don’t let that guy say what he wants to say, what about passing a law against you practicing your religion? If it were up to a vote, it would be easier to pass a law banning the practice of Islam than one banning hate speech.
Q: What do you think of President Obama’s efforts in the Muslim world?
A: I think he’s done a great job. . . . But there are some things he could have done better. I think the Cairo speech was extremely important. We should return to it on a regular basis. He made one mistake. He should have in the same trip gone right to Tel Aviv [to assuage fears of Israel supporters that the United States was shifting its sympathies]. There’s no doubt we have this historic relationship with Israel, and now it seems like we’re hanging out with these new kids.
Transition is always messy. We see birthday cakes when they’re on the table with candles and icing. But two hours before, when it’s in the oven, it doesn’t look like that.
The reality is, we’re 11 years into Afghanistan. The drone program might get rid of al-Qaida, but it also causes collateral damage. But overall I think Obama did a great job. Only he can see this thing through. [Republican presidential candidate Mitt] Romney will set back the two-state dream maybe permanently. You need someone who believes in the concept.
Q: What do people in your district ask you about most?
A: Unemployment. Jobs. Livable wage jobs.
— Michelle Boorstein
●Serves on the House Financial Services Committee; House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee.
●Co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus for the 112th Congress; is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
●Before Congress: practiced law and was a community activist; also served two terms in the Minnesota State House of Representatives.
● Hometown: Detroit.
● Earned a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1990.
●Is the father of four children.