On Tuesday, Indiana's 7th Congressional District elected 33-year-old Andre Carson to the House of Representatives in a special election. Carson, a Muslim and a former cop, replaces his late grandmother, Julia Carson, the first African-American and the first woman to represent Indianapolis in Congress. Julia died in December of last year.
Carson is the second Muslim to ever serve in Congress. The first, Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, was elected in 2006 and came under attack because of his faith. One can only hope that as more and more Muslims enter Congress, the openly discriminatory members ("In the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt strict immigration policies," said Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, a Republican) will realize that Islam doesn't automatically turn people into monsters.
Carson won't have long to make an impact, however. There is a Democratic primary on May 6 to determine who will run for election in November. If Carson is to serve into 2009, he'll have to win three elections in the span of nine months.