Rep. Keith Ellison speaks out

Outside views are crucial when diplomatic officials’ speech is limited.

Daily Editorial Board

As the situation in Egypt escalates with street brawls and Molotov cocktails, the White House and State Department continue to make diplomatic strides forward.

The role of the State Department and other policy makers is to take a more neutral, even-handed approach, but voices outside of these offices can and should be serving as the American peopleâÄôs conscience about what is happening on the ground in Cairo.

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., has emerged as one of the most passionate speakers stateside, fervently throwing his support behind Egyptians protesting President Hosni Mubarak.

“Diplomats donâÄôt talk like the rest of us. Everything they say is very careful and measured,” Ellison said while acknowledging that President Barack Obama is “doing his job” in acting diplomatically. Courageous and outspoken leadership is not new to Ellison. He held a “Congress on Your Corner” event last month after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot in Tucson, Ariz.

While diplomats take the more neutral route, there is still plenty to condemn about recent events in Egypt. Last week, pro-Mubarak protesters repeatedly attacked reporters and used violence against anti-government protesters.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly called this unacceptable âÄî journalists are braving danger to provide much-needed live reporting. Crackdowns on the free press like Egypt has experienced lately are unacceptable anywhere in the world. However, diplomats, needing to balance a variety of interests, are limited in what they can say and do about it. Times of crisis like these require people like Ellison to speak out when other policymakers cannot.