WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 — In a letter sent to hundreds of voters this month, Representative Virgil H. Goode Jr., Republican of Virginia, warned that the recent election of the first Muslim to Congress posed a serious threat to the nation’s traditional values.
Mr. Goode was referring to Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Democrat and criminal defense lawyer who converted to Islam as a college student and was elected to the House in November. Mr. Ellison’s plan to use the Koran during his private swearing-in ceremony in January had outraged some Virginia voters, prompting Mr. Goode to issue a written response to them, a spokesman for Mr. Goode said.
In his letter, which was dated Dec. 5, Mr. Goode said that Americans needed to “wake up” or else there would “likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.”
“I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped,” said Mr. Goode, who vowed to use the Bible when taking his own oath of office.
Mr. Ellison dismissed Mr. Goode’s comments, saying they seemed ill informed about his personal origins as well as about Constitutional protections of religious freedom. “I’m not an immigrant,” added Mr. Ellison, who traces his American ancestors back to 1742. “I’m an African-American.”
There's an ongoing sickness in America. From the days of slavery and segregation to the mass hysteria that was McCarthyism, too many Americans are so afraid of The Other that humanity takes second place to irrational beliefs that fuel hatred and bigotry. It's not only been personal, it's been institutionalized through governments and the media and it produces politicians who feed the gated community ideal by openly promoting the twisted idea that a society of 'whites only' and/or 'Judeo/Christians only' is some sort of perfect paradise in which all will live in harmony. That so-called perfect society, they so often forget, is one that began with the slaughter of Native Americans who are still marginalized and quite frankly invisible.
I'd like to think that this new fear of immigrants is a reflection of deeply felt guilt that people like Goode might feel over what their immigrant ancestors unleashed on the inhabitants of the newly discovered America when they first landed in the new world but it seems to be the opposite - an attitude passed down from generation to generation that one must always live in fear of anyone who isn't exactly like you and that force must be used to protect those so-called values that only you can hold and understand because anyone who is different is simply out to get you and destroy your way of life.
It's the same attitude that causes those who oppose same sex marriage to believe that if The Others marry, your marriage will be adversely affected or that Mexicans want to take over America and must be stopped at all costs. When someone else gains a right, they reason, you lose one of yours. That's not the way the world works.
Muslims are the new Native Americans, the new communists, the new African-Americans. It's become far too acceptable in America to attack members of the Muslim community since 9/11. Efforts to educate the public about the fact that it is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by a very small majority of extremists have failed. People like Goode certainly wouldn't have even entertained the idea that the KKK was representative of all Christians or that the rabbis who recently attended the Holocaust deniers conference in Iran constituted proof that all Jewish immigrants should be feared. No doubt that would be seen as a ridiculous premise by any rational person. Rationality, it seems, does not apply when it comes to dealing with members of the Muslim community because their 'values and beliefs' are different, according to Goode.
In his letter, Mr. Goode echoed that view, saying that he did not “subscribe to using the Koran in any way.” He also called for ending illegal immigration and reducing legal immigration.
Linwood Duncan, a spokesman for Mr. Goode, said the Virginia lawmaker had no intention of backing down, despite the furor.
“He stands by the letter,” Mr. Duncan said. “He has no intention of apologizing.”
And there is no doubt that Mr Goode will now become the hero of people like Dennis Prager and Michelle Malkin who live in their cozy cocoons of hatred and ignorance, cheered on by hordes who suffer from the same sicknesses they do: bigotry, irrationality, hysteria and intolerance. Those are the 'traditional values' that are destroying American society.
Update: You can view Goode's letter here.