Congressman Calls to Keep Muslims Out of USA

Congressman Virgil Goode (R-Va.) fears Muslim immigrants will destroy the USA. He recently went on the attack against newly-elected Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) -- the first Muslim ever elected to Congress -- who has drawn ire for insisting he swear on the Koran, rather than on the Christian Bible, when sworn into office. Goode sent letters to his constituents, warning them that:

"[I]f American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. 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." (From the C-ville Weekly.)

Somehow, Goode believes that trampling the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments will "preserve the values and beliefs" of this country. He makes no claims about terrorism, saying that the mere presence of Muslims in this nation will destroy it. His statements lend further credence to the idea that many proponents of restricted immigration either push their policies out of their own bigotry and preponderance for scapegoating or think that such positions will serve their self-interests, keeping them in elected office by manipulating their constituents' fears and natural prejudices.

The Washington Post reports that Rep. William J. Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) has criticized Goode, saying Goode "wrongfully equates the issue of immigration with a fear of Muslim integration in our society." That's good. But Pascrell seems to take a backhand slap at immigrants as he defends Muslim-Americans: He sounds like he's defending only his Muslim-American constituents and slighting both Muslim and non-Muslim immigrants. Does he agree with Goode that immigration in general damages our society? Looking at his voting record, probably not. But this reminds us that both our public figures and we in the media should take heed of how we speak and how we present the spoken word. At least Goode doesn't blunder on that in this case: He has defended his words as accurate.
A side note: While re-reading The Constitution and The Declaration of Independence today, I came across this among the list of grievances that justified the secession from England and its King:

"He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands."

Does this no longer hold? Have we grown enough? Do new and different people help our nation progress, or do they undermine our "traditional" culture?

(Thanks to Bill Scher at Liberal Oasis for blogging on this.)

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Blogger Megan Reichelt said...

Unfortunately, what many comfortable Americans forget is that this country was based on a diverse population: a place where anyone could go and practice whatever religion or culture they felt like.

So much of our culture is now geared towards sameness. And I guess that is human nature. The unfamiliar is often scary until we understand it.

Internet and television, things that should spread knowledge and understanding about different cultures, have a dangerous ability to promote the sence of "the other" without that immediate, personal quality that was the cornerstone of many early communities. Now it's "The Muslims" did this, or "the Mexicans" did that, rather than, "my next door neighbor" or "the postman." It leads people into thinking of a group of people like a faceless mass with certain qualities, rather than an individual exactly like ourselves. Someone we have to look in the face.

5:50 PM, December 21, 2006  

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