“Goode makes complete ass of self.”

Rep. Virgil Goode sent this letter out to hundreds of his constituents last week, accidentally sending one to a normal human being. C-Ville Weekly publishes it in their current issue.

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-4605

December 7, 2006

Dear Xxxxxxx:

Thank you for your recent communication. When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if 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.

The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.” Thank you again for your email and thoughts.

Sincerely yours,
Virgil H. Goode, Jr.
70 East Court Street
Suite 215
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151

Wow.

I always knew that Rep. Goode appealed to xenophobic, and I knew that his closest allies in the House were staunch racists. But this?

Just. Wow.

70 thoughts on ““Goode makes complete ass of self.””

  1. He has missed the point of the swearing-in entirely. Presumably, the Bible gets used most often because the people who swear on it believe that God will listen to their oath and hold them to it. If a Muslim is being sworn in, then it is only appropriate that the Koran be used, since it’s their God who holds them to their oaths. Ditto would hold true for a Jew asking to be sworn in with a Tanakh. If you use someone else’s sacred text for the basis of your own oath, then you’re a fraud, plain and simple.

    I have a couple of relatives in Michigan who, as they aged without success, began to blame increasingly more of the US’s problems (and their business’s, by extention) on “damned furriners.” I don’t like those relatives. Now I have a caricature of them as my representative. Virgil Goode is simply frightening.

  2. My favorite line: “I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way.”

    What is that supposed to mean?

  3. My god.

    I generally try to see both sides of an issue and all that, but the way he writes this makes it sound like if a bill proposing concentration camps for Muslims crossed his desk, he’d have to give it some serious consideration.

    Honestly, he says “The Muslim Representitive from Minnesota” in the same way I might imagine a neo-nazi say “The Jew Representitive from New York.”

    “If American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office.”

    Ugh.

  4. I feel like a bit of a fool for this, but I really feel disappointed.

    As I’ve tried to make clear pretty routinely, it’s my understanding that Rep. Goode is a straight-talking, ethical guy. He has a reputation for that, with few exceptions. (Which is why I find the evidence of collusion with MZM for illegal campaign contributions to be such an odd thing for him to be caught up in.) Though there’s much that I disagree with him on, I always figured that there were some basic elements of fair play that we could find common ground on.

    For example, the Bill of Rights. I had assumed that he’d support religious freedoms. To be fair, I didn’t even assume it — it would simply never occur to me to assume otherwise. He’s no social radical.

    My fellow Dems have long told me that the aw-shucks thing is a schtick, that he’s actually a racist and a xenophobe. I knew that was the company that he travelled with, but I long thought that it was a relationship of convenience for him more than anything else. (Quite the opposite of my impressions of George Allen, as I’ve explained.)

    So to find him sending such a truly shocking letter leaves me feeling, more than anything else, a bit foolish. I thought I knew the man better. Clearly I was wrong.

  5. For all the yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre I did during the election season, I am left with this moron for a Representative. His connections with Tom Tancredo were not just colleagues hanging out together once in a while.

    There is an anti-immigration bigot caucus in the House, and Virgil shows himself to be one of the leaders, if not the leader.

    I worked most of this year to get rid of him, and all I can say is, either people are not paying attention, or those who actively voted for him must support this kind of bigotry and stupidity themselves.

    A sad commentary.

    Oh, and good on ya, Al Weed, for fighting the good fight against this trouser stain.

  6. Xenophobia aside, I can’t read this letter, it gives me a headache. I don’t mean to attack Rep. Goode personally, but it sounds like it was written by a kid in middle school. What kind of sentence is this: “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.” Punctuation and a consistent verb tense would be nice, especially coming from a Congressman.

  7. TL:

    Isn’t it true though that what book someone uses is a choice rather than a requirement? I thought it was true that no book was required, but someone could choose whichever book they want.

    In that case, this seems even more strange, Virgil complaining that a ceremonial item is out of line.

  8. I agree. Just reading this sent my English major sensibilities into a panic.

    But I’ve always tried to avoid becoming priggish about other people’s grammar. I too am struck by the tone and the circumstances. It seems to be written off the cuff. Obviously, whomever edited this thing, if anyone, did so poorly. It almost seems like a stream of consciousness diatribe. Anything coming out of a Congressional office would, I assume, be proofread, so that something like this would see the light of day is interesting.

    Also, that someone who is not shy about their opposition to Goode would receive this letter is also strange.

    Whomever was involved with this email acted in a strange and unprofessional way. Perhaps Virgil’s facade is starting to wear thin?

  9. Right, Mark. There is NO book involved in the actual swearing-in ceremony. Merely the raising of one’s right hand and the oath itself. Many members of Congress then choose to hold another ceremony with a holy book as a photo op, essentially. I suppose one could also hold a book in one’s left hand while taking the oath as well.

  10. It seems to me someone should step forward and try and defend Virgil. So I guess I will – with the caveat that I agree completely that the letter appears to have been written by a dim teenager concentrating on the hard sciences.

    The first half of the first paragraph is mainly about what book or other item one chooses to be sworn in on as a Congressman. This is kind of stupid, and I tend to agree with what TLPatten wrote when he said, “If you use someone else’s sacred text for the basis of your own oath, then you’re a fraud, plain and simple.”

    Nevertheless, it’s adherents to Islam and its holy book, the Koran, that happen to be merrily slaughtering us infidels ’round the globe, so perhaps it’s not insane for a US Congressman to worry that our immigration policy is allowing too many of these folk into our melting pot. And that’s really what the second half of the fisrt paragraph is all about.

    What he’s saying there, construed in the light least favorable to him, is that we gotta stop letting in all these mohammadens lest they fundamentally change our society and culture in ways we’d all (or most) find repugnant. Now, that may not be PC my friends, and might even land you in jail in Europe, but he’s exactly right.

    I think it’s clear many Americans are worried about the influence of Muslims in this country, particularly when they look at Europe and see the conflagrations (literally) caused by a few cartoons. Just the other day, six imams in Minneapolis pulled a stunt on an aircraft (of all places) and were justly removed from the flight. What kind of behavior is this?

    So Virgil and some of his constituents don’t like Muslim immigration. Big deal. I could defend that position all day. Sure, he put it indelicately, but if if a plebiscite of the American people were taken on continuing Muslim immigration, I’d bet you dollars to doughnuts it would be rejected by a WIDE margin.

    Lastly, gosh, he could have been nicer to the kid in his office asking about the Koran. I agree with what he said, but he comes off as more of a Mid-East potentate than a US Congressman – but maybe that’s the point.

  11. As an Albemarle County resident and a 5th district constituent I must say I am completely embarrassed by this man. The only bright spot I can think of is that at least he lost Nelson, Albemarle, and Charlottesville.

  12. Just the other day, six imams in Minneapolis pulled a stunt on an aircraft (of all places) and were justly removed from the flight. What kind of behavior is this?

    Yes. Apparently five of them prayed out loud. Two of them asked for seat belt extensions. They were peaceably disembarked for these inciting acts. I read the police report, Judge, so you can’t bullshit me and I can clearly state that you’ve effectively joined Virgil in the “ass” category on this thread. If the hood fits, wear it. By the way, the clerics took another flight on another airline to Phoenix the next day, without incident.

    The Ellison business has been dealt with exhaustively in the blogosphere. Yes, there is no book used in the actual, public, swearing in. Yes, you can have a private re-enactment for the cameras, later, in which you can use any book you want. Yes, Jewish congresspersons have used non-Christian texts. And, yes, it would be a fraud to swear on a text in which you had no faith. But, the most reasonable point made this matter, which was spawned by (Jewish!) radio commentator Dennis Praeger’s objections to Ellison’s preference is that swearing on the Christian text is all about making Ellison and Jews and Hindus and Buddhists and atheists alike conform. And that’s what Virgil and the Judge want, too. Conformity.

    The world’s Muslims, most of whom live in Indonesia and Bangladesh and India, don’t seem to be merrily slaughtering anyone I know, or anyone at all, generally, although there are small rebellions and some nasty fundamentalist conflict between Hindus and Muslims. What I see violent Muslims doing, mostly, these days, is killing other Muslims in some far-off land from which we removed any rule of law. And, Virgil seems equally opposed to letting Latin American Christians into the country. They’ll swear on a Bible, but it’ll be in Spanish, maybe! Somehow, I think he’s just a classic hater of anyone different in almost any degree. That’s xenophobia, pure and simple.

    And, blaming a “Clinton diversity immigration policy”? First, let me say I doubt that this policy actually ever existed. Second, Clinton left office, when? 2001? January? The GOP has been in the White House almost six years, controlled the House since 1994, and the Senate since 2002? And, the GOP executive has countered a Clinton order? The GOP Congress hasn’t re-written this law? Why do I think that Virgil is either delusional or lying?

    And, yes, all this runs right smack into the fact that religion is a choice, not a race. Virgil could hang in his district and bump into, I don’t know, a Hindu young man of South Asian ancestry whose parents are venture capitalists and who played football for Thomas Jefferson School and now goes to UVa and who happens to have been born in Virginia. Just saying.

  13. Hey Brian,

    It’s both hilarious and telling that you’d try to defend the behavior of those imams on the flight. They should have been arrested, but to sandal-wearing, one-worlders like yourself it’s all just a part of the wonderful world of multiculturalism. You wanna force women into burqas? Great! You think Jews are the sons of pigs and monkeys? Fine by me! Your religion compels you to fly airplanes into buildings? What a concept!

    Religion may, as you say, be a choice. But how free is that choice when one can only convert to, not from, Islam without being labeled an apostate and subject to capital punishment?

    Go sell crazy someplace else. We’re all stocked up here.

  14. If you’re offended by Virgil’s letter, PLEASE LET HIM KNOW. Phone or fax his office. Contact info is at http://www.house.gov/goode/contact.shtml.

    He claims that the letter was in response to complaints from constituents offended by the notion of taking an oath of office on the Koran. He needs to hear from those of his constituents who don’t get their talking points from AM talk radio. He needs to be disabused of the notion that his reelection is a mandate for ever more extreme nativism.

  15. “with the caveat that I agree completely that the letter appears to have been written by a dim teenager concentrating on the hard sciences.”

    That is how Virgil talks, same cadence same syntax, have you ever spoken to him?

    I am assuming that the letter was dictated.

    But to the JS silly, silly argument . . . lets see there is about roughly 1.6, 1.5 BILLION Muslims on this planet–note of interest,close to the approximate number of Christians.

    How many of those muslims do you think are actually trying to kill us on a regular basis?

    The “terrorists”, are such a small tiny fraction . . . hmmm lets say at its height Al Qaeda had maybe 5,000 members, some say as low as 1,000. What is that, .00000001% of Muslims out to get us. I am assuming that is close to the same percent of regular everyday church going Christian folks who happen to be serial killers or members of the KKK.

    Now I am sure that the percent of Muslims actively out to get us is slightly higher but you get my point.

    But whatever, you and your ilk want to cling to this ridiculous argument that there is somehow something innately violent about Islam that is absent from Christianity.

    But I want to ask you how many Christians are racist, how many are anti Semitic?

    How many self-identified Christians are murders? How many self-identified Christians participated in the Holocaust, in Lynchings, in any number of violent crimes across the globe and history? How many Christians used their religion to justify those crimes?

    How many Christian sects are there who are just as oppressive as those minority sects you equate to the whole of islam.

  16. It’s both hilarious and telling that you’d try to defend the behavior of those imams on the flight. They should have been arrested, but to sandal-wearing, one-worlders like yourself it’s all just a part of the wonderful world of multiculturalism. You wanna force women into burqas? Great! You think Jews are the sons of pigs and monkeys? Fine by me! Your religion compels you to fly airplanes into buildings? What a concept!

    I’ve been reading this for 5 minutes, trying to figure out what the hell you’re talking about.

    As I understand it, you’re saying: Anyone praying on an airplane should be arrested? Defending religious freedom for everyone is the same thing as forcing women to wear burqas, hating jews, committing mass murder, and wearing sandals? What?

    I’m not really sensing a coherent logical argument here… Or perhaps I should just read between the lines and assume that you’re a bigot. That way, your incoherent racist gibberish starts to make a little bit more sense. But not much.

  17. It’s ever so tiresome to be called out as a racist by one-trick-pony leftwingers. Let’s see, so far it’s: “If the hood fits, wear it,” and “or perhaps I should just read between the lines and assume that you’re a bigot,” and undoubtedly there will be more. It’s all you got.

    It’s really hard for me to understand how y’all go through life with these giant blinders on. Did you miss 9-11? I know, I know, the Klan and the Crusades. But what impact does the Klan have on modern Christianity and when does the statute of limitations run on something that happened 700 years before the Boston Tea Party? BTW, the last influential (if that’s the word) Klan leader I’ve seen being treated with respect was last week in Tehran at the Holocaust deniers’ confab. Hmmmm.

    I realize violent fanatics are a small part of global Islam. I really do. But it’s hard to get past the unceasing equivocation and blame-the-west credo that CAIR and others constantly hammer.

    I dunno. I’ll think about it tonight.

  18. Judge,

    What’s your ancestry? Were your ancestors immigrants? What was their religion?

    Germane questions, given your interest in excluding all but those like yourself, in race, idealology and style of speaking, among other traits.

  19. It’s both hilarious and telling that you’d try to defend the behavior of those imams on the flight. They should have been arrested, but to sandal-wearing, one-worlders like yourself it’s all just a part of the wonderful world of multiculturalism.

    Yeah. Little ol’ sandal-wearin’, one-worlder me. And the FBI agents who questioned them. And searched their carry-on luggage. And let them go without charge because…the agents cound’t really come up with one and Flying While Muslim, however close it might be to that old favorite, Driving While Black, hasn’t yet made it into the G-Man manual. Did I mention I read the police reports? Hint: They’re online.

    And, you stole a tag line from “As Good as It Gets”? You try to pass off a witticism from a film everyone on this planet, except members of hunter-gatherer tribes in the high plateaus of New Guinea and the Amish, have seen? And I’ll bet a few of those Stone Age oceanic natives would recognize you swiped it, too, an mumble in some dialect of tongue-clicks their equivalent of “lame-ass plagarist.” A bubble is no place to live out your life.

  20. No, Mark, they’re not germane. “Race?” “Style of speaking?” I don’t even know what you’re talking about. However, I am interested in not allowing into this country those who, given Europe’s experience, appear to have a hard time coping with western values of tolerance and moderation.

    Who’s the real liberal here, I wonder?

  21. Who’s the real liberal here, I wonder?

    Probably not the guy who applauds denying airline flights to the pious because they pray out loud in language he doesn’t understand. And, let’s remember that Virgil’s anti-Muslim correspondence is a sideshow: I assume that you’re just fine with letting in, lawfully of course, lots Latinos whose Roman Catholic or evangelical background would root them well in the Western values of tolerance and moderation, with which Virgil is decidedly not.

  22. I would encourage you to read Debra Burlingame’s piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Grievance Theatre” at the Minneapolis Airport.

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009348

    Her brother, Chick Burlingame, was the pilot of the American Airlines Flight 77 which crashed into the Pentagon.

    She shows, rather convncingly I think, that the “Minneapolis 6,” as you might call them, were anything but innocent.

  23. Dear Judge Smalls– Flying airplanes into buildings seems to be a Jewish/Bush/C.I.A. imperative–a false flag “who benefits” charade that falls apart at a touch of investigation. For two of the western world’s Great Religions to gang up on and demonize the third has to be a great sin for which God will extract punishment. Holding a book in your left hand will get you nowhere if you’re masturbating with the right.

  24. I dont know, JS, when does the statute of limitations run on a crime that one is trying to use to indite a whole religion when that said crime was committed by few violent zealots?

    Also, I don’t know how you can go around life with such big blinders on, I mean come on, Oklahoma City!

    If you would take off your damn blinders you would know about the threat Extreme Right Wing Natavists pose to us all!!!

    If course, if we used you and Virgil’s thinking . . . maybe we should lock up all self identifying conservative . . . hmmmmmm.

    Also, I am not quite sure how you get to “if the hood fits, wear it” . . . just pointing out the facts you can’t avoid as you try to peddle your Christian exceptionalism: Christians, too, engage in violence using their religion as an excuse . . . as recently as . . . well, yesterday; and as soon again as tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

    So I am not talking exslusivly about the Crusades . . . but also it is naive on your part to try to dismise the Crusades as irelivant to modern Christanity . . . because they happened a long time ago . . . well that would be like saying, “the crucifixion, why on earth do you keep harping on that! That like happen 1,750 years before the Boston on Tea Party!”

    My point still stands there is nothing innately more violent about the practitioners of Islam than the practitioners of Christianity.

    9/11 is just one of the most recent, and more spectacular, acts of violence using religion has an excuse.

  25. “She shows, rather convncingly I think, that the “Minneapolis 6,” as you might call them, were anything but innocent.”

    Nope. She opines. Police reports, remember? Statements from the FBI that they cooperated fully. Searches of carry-on luggage. There is no report of them not taking assigned seats. Two asked for an upgrade to First Class, but were told none was available. They were suspected of planning to take over an aircraft using…rolled up seatbelt extensions? Against armored cockpit doors? Arrests? None. Departure for Phoenix the next day on Northwest Airlines, without hysteria or harm. All this strikes one as more of the same sort of thing that the righty press trumped up when that Jacobsen woman flew from Detroit to LA with the Syrian Wayne Newton and his backup band and nearly lost her mind. And shared her near-loss with the world.

    For all I know tens of thousands of Indonesians, Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Iranians, Malaysians and Arabs are airborne this very moment, all of whom prayed loudly before takeoff. My grandmother prays aloud–to Jesus and in English–before she flies. It’s a little disconcerting when I’m flying with her, but I tolerate it. She hasn’t tried to hijack a jet, yet.

    Someone coined the term a two years ago of “pantswetter conservatism.” Guess it’s not gone out of style.

  26. Smails-
    Well, what else am I supposed to say to someone who holds such bigoted and xenophobic opinions? I’m supposed to stop calling racists racists because it I might hurt their feelings or bore them?

    Look, unless I’m mistaken, you’re argument is this:

    That Muslims should prevented from immigrating to the US, and that it’s justifiable to arrest Muslims for praying out loud, because Muslims are violent and cause all the violence in the world– and that all violence caused by Christans or any other religion doesn’t count because all of it happened a long time ago, and all Muslims are to be held accountable to the actions of a very select few because “9-11 changed everything.”

    Am I wrong? I’m not trying to put words in your mouth here, please let me know if I’ve misrepresented your views as espoused in the debate above.

    So, how exactly does your argument that people should be judged solely on the basis of their religion make you a “real liberal” ? To me it sounds like you’re the one having trouble “coping with western values of tolerance and moderation.” If you’re tired of being called a bigot maybe you should stop talking like one.

  27. By the way is JS, Pubilus or whatever his name was? He reads the same.

    Not at all. JS reads, learns, and engages in discussion openly. He is — as are all regulars here, I hope and believe — willing to modify his opinion based on facts and persuasive evidence presented by others. That is, I think, an important personality trait, no matter how much we may all disagree.

  28. Oh, one more thing: If you like Arab and Arab Muslim immigrants, you’ve gotta love George W. Bush. Because of his foreign policy, my guess is that Arabs–Christian and Muslims alike–are going to be the Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Hmong of the next decade. Thanks to Dubya, Cheney, and their great game of reshaping the Middle East on faith and hope alone, there’ll be an Iraqi restaurant on every corner. I hear the national dishes are, counterintuitively, fish. I like lentils, too. Get used to them.

  29. If we’re to follow Virgil Goode’s prescription, we’ll prevent foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. What about native-born Americans who convert to Islam? Shall we expel them? Or pass laws preventing such religious conversions? Whatever shall we do?

  30. Virgil’s xenophobia is well-known, it is of long standing, and it plays well in the Fifth District.

    In 2002, I researched his record. At that point, he was voting consistently with three other Republicans who could be counted on to be not just in right field, but in foul territory down the right field line — Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul (a Libertarian elected as a Republican), and Jeff Flake. In an amazingly large number of cases, bills would pass the House by 420-4, or some such lopsided count. If there was a group of dissenters that numbered less than 10, Virgil, and the other members of the Gang of Four, were consistently in that group.

    One bill that Virgil voted against — I don’t have the cite handy — was a bill that passed by about 420-7. It was a bill that would have doubled the number of visas that could be given to foreign citizens who had graduated from American medical schools, allowing them to remain in this country provided that they worked in medically underserved areas. Virtually all of the Fifth District is a “medically underserved” area — only Charlottesville and near-in Albemarle County is not. The need for doctors in rural Virginia is acute. One of Virgil’s counties — I think it is Charlotte County, but I am not sure — lost its only doctor in 2002; now anyone who is sick has to drive to Richmond. There is NO reason to vote against this bill except xenophobia. Virgil voted against the bill.

    Oy.

  31. Goode was realistic and smart enough to avoid this sort of public statement before the election. Errors or not on the intended recipient, what’s the motivation for formalizing a more extreme view now? Usually these messages are carefully couched, and the hard core followers can easily read between the lines. There’s a rich and well-developed language of careful ambiguity surrounding this kind of thinking. So I still don’t see what the payoff is for ratcheting it up a notch.

    cvllelaw, then does the letter surprise you at all?

  32. Well, I guess it’s clear not too many folks around here are up for having an honest discussion about America’s immigration policy. I still think my former remarks were even-tempered and eminently defensible, and cannot refrain from pointing out that some of those in response were anything but. To wit:

    Dear Judge Smalls– Flying airplanes into buildings seems to be a Jewish/Bush/C.I.A. imperative–a false flag “who benefits” charade that falls apart at a touch of investigation. For two of the western world’s Great Religions to gang up on and demonize the third has to be a great sin for which God will extract punishment. Holding a book in your left hand will get you nowhere if you’re masturbating with the right.

    Heh. However, it would not be keeping with good faith to simply rest my case b/c there happen to be a few “9/11 Truthers” about. Each side, afterall, has its crazies.

    It it disappointing to be labeled xenophobic, racist, etc, and I think it’s completely unwarranted – more of a knee-jerk reaction than a well-thought riposte. This was not at all the discussion I intended to provoke. Indeed, it’s not possible to have much of a discussion when every other post labels one, basically, an igonrant enemy of all things good and noble.

    Maybe you guys are correct and I’m painting with far too broad a brush, but I honestly don’t think so. From rioting over cartoons to being incredibly sensitive to any kind of profiling in airport security lines, many Muslims here and abroad demonstrate some strange and frightening pathologies that we would be fools not to take into consideration.

    A couple of questions and then I’ll let go of this. Why is it that one can only convert to, not from, Islam? And why must lands that Islam conquered by the sword (N. Africa and SW Asia for starters) be forever Muslim? Taken with their ill-treatment of half the population and the apparent incompatibility with democracy that Islam has historically demonstrated, I just can’t fathom how my or Virgil’s wariness of large numbers of Muslims immigrating to this country makes us monsters.

  33. Wow. I can’t believe I am going to do this, considering the number of times the Judge and I have slung mud at each other, and in particular the time he said I was an insane shaman rain-dancing naked at some pagan ritual. But I’m going to defend a point he’s made which most of you seem to be overlooking in the rush to beat up on a seeming conservative apologist.

    … perhaps it’s not insane for a US Congressman to worry that our immigration policy is allowing too many of these folk into our melting pot….

    What he’s saying there, construed in the light least favorable to him, is that we gotta stop letting in all these mohammadens lest they fundamentally change our society and culture in ways we’d all (or most) find repugnant. Now, that may not be PC my friends, and might even land you in jail in Europe, but he’s exactly right.

    There is a bright line between an open-arms immigration policy and a complete shift in cultural/societal values, and we do seem to be crossing it. The “American Dream” is one where everyone is allowed their own personal space to speak their own language in their homes, worship as they deem fit, and work toward prosperity however they define it. What makes us attractive as a country for emigration is the legally-level playing field our founders created and we have broadened through our courts’ interpretation of the Bill of Rights.

    Unfortunately, lately we have all seen what happens when we let the Administration strip away those rights. Bush conceives of no boundaries. But Bush is still one of us, in that he, too, is ultimately subject to the disapproval of the citizens for whom he works and can be removed from office if we wish. We may not exercise that power, but we do retain it.

    However, fundamental to that power are the rights and responsibilities of free speech and free assembly. Free speech allows us to communicate our dissatisfaction without suppression from the government. Free assembly allows us to speak such ideas publicly, and form communities and coalitions that back our ideas with group action. These rights are essentially Western European concepts, derived from Ancient Greece & Rome, refined through British and Scottish law, and handed down to the colonies when they were formed.

    Nowhere else in the world has developed such traditions of free thought. The places that have them borrowed them from the same sources which birthed us, and much later in the nation-making cultural process than we did, so they’ve been imperfectly followed. There isn’t another Constitution ever written that beats ours for both its clearness and flexibility.

    Now, where am I going with this? To the core of xenophobia. Imagine a United States where the majority of the population becomes Hispanic–Spanish becomes the primary language and Catholicism becomes the primary religion. Demographically, that is the way we’re headed. If that happens in 30 years or so, I may not be able to read my bank statements. I certainly will not be able to read and understand legislation being passed by my representatives. If the motivation for a Supreme Court decision is based on a Catholic morality, I won’t know, because I won’t be able to read the decision. Nor will I be able to argue my own case in a court of law. My political environment is English, based upon English common law. It’s unlikely that, at age 40, I will ever become as adept at another language as I am at my native one. If that basic language changes because our culture shifts due to immigration, I fear finding myself an outsider in my own country; my ability to voice my lefty, tree-hugging princples will have no place in my government. It becomes that much easier for anyone with an agenda to suppress me.

    I don’t agree with Goode’s xenophobia, but I understand where it comes from–a fear of losing control of our governing principles because we have lost control over our freedom of speech.

  34. As a Minnesotan, a volunteer for Keith Ellison’s campaign and as a dirty liberal American, I can only smile when I read Goode’s apoplexy.

    Sean

  35. TLPatten–

    have you ever stopped to think that the people who escape political persecution, violence, and/or lack of economic oportunities (often caused, directly or indirectly, by the United States) to come here, to the “land of opportunity,” might also have to learn a new language, as well as having to start from the bottom of the employment totem pole while facing deportation?

    your objection to an open immigration policy is based on the fact that you might have to learn Spanish? I wouldn’t worry too hard about your bank statements, i’m pretty sure they’ll continue to print those in a base-10 number system.

    anyone who is in favor of strict immigration policies and is not 100% descended from Native Americans is a huge hypocrite.

  36. Thanks for stepping in, Patten. I know it was painful. You chose to approach the problem largely from the perspective of Hispanics and the language barrier. That’s fine, but what I’m more concerned with are the problems of Muslim cultural assimilation.

    For example, there are now sex-segregated swimming hours at municipal swimming pools in Seattle to accomodate the modesty dictates for women in the Koran. Now I’m not trying to make this out to be more than it is – and it isn’t exactly the death knell of the Bill of Rights. But excuse me for thinking that immigrants should conform to the culture of their new country, and not the other way around.

  37. have you ever stopped to think that the people who escape political persecution, violence, and/or lack of economic oportunities (often caused, directly or indirectly, by the United States) to come here, to the “land of opportunity,” might also have to learn a new language, as well as having to start from the bottom of the employment totem pole while facing deportation?

    your objection to an open immigration policy is based on the fact that you might have to learn Spanish? I wouldn’t worry too hard about your bank statements, i’m pretty sure they’ll continue to print those in a base-10 number system.

    anyone who is in favor of strict immigration policies and is not 100% descended from Native Americans is a huge hypocrite.

    Way to ignore a perfectly valid argument, James. If I emigrate to Venezuala, I expect to learn to have to speak, write, read, and think in Spanish. If I emigrate to Greece or Japan, I expect to have to learn an entirely new kind of alphabet and new social customs in addition to a new language. Those countries are not changing their fundamental cultures to suit me, so if I choose to live there, I must fit myself to them.

    There are many “nations of immigrants,” including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and all of South and Central America. All of them have much stricter immigration policies than we do. Here in the United States, it doesn’t work that way. We tend to mold ourselves to suit everyone who comes in precisely because never got beyond our beginnings as a nation of immigrants. However, 400 years after colonization, we have developed a definable culture as a nation. You may not appreciate it, but there are some things, like our governmental structure, which are quintessentially American. There is good reason to fear that that system will change unless we address the problems of immigration.

    I believe there are better, certainly more Constitutional measures for assuring that our rights don’t change–locking the basic American rights into unchangeable stone, improving education for immigrants–but no one is talking about them. Instead they are hot under the collar about border fences and deportation, because those are quick fixes.

    And since I was born here and at least one branch of the family has been here since colonial days, I am a native American. Should the Norman descendants in British Isles move back to Northern France? Or the Saxons move back to Germany? Why don’t we give Italy back to the Etruscan remnants and kick out all the Romans? And while we’re at it, let’s shove all the Spaniards in South America back into Spain & Portugal. We can do it, now that we have DNA to figure out who has the most of what kind of ethnicity.

    Get real, James. The world population has increased exponentially in the last 400 years, and the human migration patterns from the past 3 millennia mean we all come from somewhere else, even the “natives” of any given land. In all those thousands of years, every nation, tribal or superpower, has held onto their right to define their own boundaries, culture, and rules for inclusion. No one can be justly labeled hypocritical for reconsidering and restructuring immigration policy.

  38. In all of Judge Smails’ and TL Patten’s discussion of immigration policy, they seem to have missed the fundamental point.

    The only immigration that Keith Ellison did was to immigrate to Minnesota from Detroit. And you don’t need a passport or visa to do that.

    Virgil’s rant — even if, in another context, it were logical — is utterly irrelevant to the matter of Keith Ellison. He is, in essence, equating a religious conversion to illegal immigration.

  39. Thanks for stepping in, Patten. I know it was painful. You chose to approach the problem largely from the perspective of Hispanics and the language barrier. That’s fine, but what I’m more concerned with are the problems of Muslim cultural assimilation.

    You’re right, it was painful. If you want to start over and actually discuss immigration policy, you are welcome to come to my blog and do so. I’ve just put up a summary of the arguments to start us off on (what I hope is) the right (or left, or centrist) foot.

  40. In all of Judge Smails’ and TL Patten’s discussion of immigration policy, they seem to have missed the fundamental point.

    No, you seemed to have missed our original remarks. We moved on to immigration since then.

  41. I feel like a bit of a fool for this, but I really feel disappointed.

    As I’ve tried to make clear pretty routinely, it’s my understanding that Rep. Goode is a straight-talking, ethical guy.

    I’m not surprised at all. I met the man one time, in his office, and he came across as slimy, insincere, and shifty. I actually had some respect for him before that.

  42. You chose to approach the problem largely from the perspective of Hispanics and the language barrier. That’s fine, but what I’m more concerned with are the problems of Muslim cultural assimilation.

    I, for one, and mostly worried about those dirty Irish. Oh wait, they’re my grandparents.

    Should the Norman descendants in British Isles move back to Northern France? Or the Saxons move back to Germany? Why don’t we give Italy back to the Etruscan remnants and kick out all the Romans?

    Of course not. We’re in agreement as to why this argument is absurd.

    For the same reasons, I would argue, we should not send Mexican immigrants back across the border, nor should we be afraid of Muslims from any background immigrating to the US.

    Instead, I think, we should accept any and all people who want to move to the United States, provided they don’t have a violent criminal record, and we should embrace the opportunity to learn more about other cultures and allow others to learn about ours. I certainly don’t subscribe to many of the more conservative aspects of Islamic Law, but I have many of the same complaints about Christianity. I am, however, in favor of a government that allows religious expression — and one that understands the necessity of a plurality of beliefs, and understand that keeping church & state separate is an important policy that prevents one particular religion from oppressing others in the public sphere.

    As I see it, the solution to the vast majority of the current political violence in the world must be rooted in an understanding that there is no “us” and “them,” that despite the positive and negative aspects that define each culture, the drastic xenophobic, self-centered condemnation of a entire way of life is inherently detrimental to everyone.

    Sorry if any of you thinks that this makes me a dirty hippie, I know you think “multi-culturalism” isn’t “cool” or whatever but I’m not about to run home crying because Smails called me a Sandal-wearer.

  43. I have always been proud of America’s religious, racial and ethnic diversity. Mr. Goode’s intolerance is similar to the Southern views once espoused towards African-Americans and Jews. Mr. Goode feels that he only represents white Christians. Someone check Mr. Goode’s closet for the pointy white hat he is surely hiding.

    Selby

  44. “Should the Norman descendants in British Isles move back to Northern France?”

    Of course not. They might bring their recipes with them.

  45. This morning as I read the New York Times I learned for the first time, here in FL, of Goode’s Dec. 7th letter. The article moved me to go online and read the letter. This piece of writing is utterly amazing to me. Whatever side you’re on with regard to immigration–and I’ve read much of the commentary on this site–I hope you will agree that the House of Representatives should censure Goode for his total insensitivity toward one American’s own religious tradition (and thus his–Goode’s–implicit rejection of the First Amendment). I am not a Muslim; I was raised a Christian and an American who takes seriously the US Constitution, which does not mention God or the Bible but is unambiguous about freedom of religion.

  46. Instead, I think, we should accept any and all people who want to move to the United States,

    Then you’re a right eejit, aren’t you? We don’t have the resources, natural or economic, to support the arses of everyone who would move to the U.S. if we had a truly open-door policy. And just about every other nation on this planet has a stricter immigration policy than we do. Perhaps there’s good reason for that.

    I am, however, in favor of a government that allows religious expression

    Last I checked, ours did. It has freedom of all expression, not just religious–which allows Goode to express his ugly anti-Muslim opinion. You can only legislate for proper action. You can not legislate for proper attitude. Which, coincidentally, is what has Smails in a knot. No matter how much lip service an immigrant of any stripe may give to favoring the U.S., we can not know with certainty which ones are lying and cull them out at the door. Give credit where it’s due–he’s been down this mental path before most of this board and is trying to get us to discuss it rationally. He isn’t succeeding.

    As I see it, the solution to the vast majority of the current political violence in the world must be rooted in an understanding that there is no “us” and “them,”

    The individuation process starts as soon as a baby leaves the womb, when it becomes a biological necessity to differentiate between “us” and “them.” Sorry to disappoint you, but many great minds across several fields ranging from psychology to physics have documented and discussed the need for and results of individuation. “Us” and “them” are designations we probably won’t get rid of until we evolve into a different species altogether.

    I’m not about to run home crying because Smails called me a Sandal-wearer.

    He’s called me worse, but I manage to survive.

  47. As I see it, the solution to the vast majority of the current political violence in the world must be rooted in an understanding that there is no “us” and “them,”

    The individuation process starts as soon as a baby leaves the womb, when it becomes a biological necessity to differentiate between “us” and “them.” Sorry to disappoint you, but many great minds across several fields ranging from psychology to physics have documented and discussed the need for and results of individuation. “Us” and “them” are designations we probably won’t get rid of until we evolve into a different species altogether.

    But you have to admit that a) James ideal is a good one and b) that much of what makes humans human is our ability to move beyond our biological imperatives.

  48. We don’t have the resources, natural or economic, to support the arses of everyone who would move to the U.S.

    Look, we already consume a hugely disrepresentative portion of the world’s resources, I for one certainly don’t mind sharing. Overpopulation isn’t the problem (ever been out West?), it’s just distribution of resources. Maybe if we stopped helping to make the rest of the world such a shitty place to live, there wouldn’t be quite as many folks knocking on our door. Until then, I’d rather accomodate them than turn them away.

    Last I checked, ours did. It has freedom of all expression, not just religious–which allows Goode to express his ugly anti-Muslim opinion. You can only legislate for proper action. You can not legislate for proper attitude.

    Oh, I’m not saying Goode shouldn’t be allowed to write what he did. I’m just ashamed that my Representative is an ignorant racist, and at the very least he owes his constituents and his colleagues an apology.

    Sorry to disappoint you, but many great minds across several fields ranging from psychology to physics

    I thought this was pretty apparent, but maybe I’d better spell it out: I’m not literally advocating a hive-mind, and I understand what individuation is. A more literal expression of my views might read: It would be to everyone’s benefit for “us” to realize that Immigrants from every background and Muslims of any nationality are our fellow human beings and deserve our respect and understanding.

  49. But you have to admit that a) James ideal is a good one and b) that much of what makes humans human is our ability to move beyond our biological imperatives.

    Waldo, I appreciate the sentiment, but that’s all it is to me–sentiment. Sentiment fuels a controversial issue by reducing the components to emotional black and white, it resolves nothing. Life is much more complex, messy and needfully cruel than this picture, and you and I would probably disagree to some extent about biological imperatives. Who is to say whether we are actually moving beyond them or merely influencing their development and progression?

    I have a close in-law who is in his 1st full year of permanent residency. These attitudes and the policies based on them will effect him–and his family members should they want to move here to join him. So please excuse me from the “Goode sucks, we should all love each other” parade. As much as I might agree with the sentiment, this letter has broader implications for my family future and I find that much more personally compelling.

  50. @TLPatten: I don’t see what you’re trying to say about the interaction between your in-law and these anti-immigration attitudes. Wouldn’t that imply you want more permissive immigration laws, not more restrictive ones? And if not, what’s your point?

    Also, the whole “eliminating the us vs. them distinction” thing has very real implications for our small world. It’s not just a sentiment — it’s a path towards a solution. When you start realizing that we all share the same “blood”, that we are all human, that we all have reasons (of some sort) for our actions, then you begin to see the real factors that lead to conflict in the first place. And that’s a step in the right direction.

  51. Wow, what an intelligent and thought provoking comment stream. Impressive.

    I think that this country and our culture is strong enough to absorb any reasonable amount of immigration. Just like in every previous wave of immigration, what we don’t absorb and change in the first generation, we will surely in the second, and undoubtedly by third. Our language will not change fundamentally, but we will add new words and phrases to it. Because if there is one thing we know for sure, American’s are not going to learn another language. Children of immigrants will learn ours, even if their parents are incapable, and may act as interpreters just as it has always been. As long as we do our jobs and uphold our society as responsible citizens. Part of that job is insisting on not enabling alternate languages to take a foothold in business or government, lest we become a polyglot of babblers, unable to understand one another from one block to another. That is not racist or xenophobic, it is common sense.

    However, we must keep in mind that the U.S. has never been overwhelmed with an UNreasonable number of immigrants solely due to immigration quotas and a certain amount of “weeding out” of undesirable persons, such as those with criminal records, etc. A policy which has never been proven more necessary than now as we face virtually unfettered illegal immigration over our borders, primarily latino. It is an unrefutable fact that this vast influx is having a severe effect on many levels in our society, and must be brought under control for the good of the society and the culture of the U.S., regardless of how we might empathize with the reasons for it. The illegal immigrants are not the problem or the enemy, as we can easily place ourselves in their positions. The problem is with the factors within our own society and government which is allowing it to continue, indeed encouraging it, at such an overwhelming rate to the detriment of our healthcare system, such as it is, our school system, such as it is, and our labor system, such as it used to be. The enemy is us. It is not a partisan issue, but one which must be solely placed upon the shoulders of each U.S. citizen to hold corporate and small business interests to account, and to demand appropriate action by our government. To oppose mass illegal immigration is not racism or xenophobia, but a desire to live in a productive, workable, fair society ruled by law rather than anarchy.

    To attack thinking persons who are concerned with the welfare of our society as a whole, rather than only small percentages of the population, be them legal or illegal, simply out of sympathy for the poor and oppressed of the world is knee-jerk liberalism at its worst, which is arguably just as evil and absurd as blind, ignorant conservatism. Often, both have exactly the same results.

    If the labor of latino immigrants is truly as necessary as proponents for illegal immigration attempt to make it out to be, then let them petition Congress to relax immigration quotas so that more may be allowed entry legally, while necessary measures are taken to uphold the relaxed quotas. Immigration quotas have often been relaxed in order to exploit the poor and oppressed for the convenience of business and government, which is in actuality what knee jerk liberals on this issue are blindly wailing for. Immigration quotas were relaxed to allow Chinese laborers in to build the railroads and for the Irish in to be drafted immediately into the Union army during the Civil War. They, however, had to come by ship and pass through ports and so were regulated. They could not tunnel from China and Ireland, for example. Since latino’s may, more stringent measures must be taken to enforce quota’s in this instance, particularly.

    As for legal immigrants who profess Islam as their religion, they should be welcomed with open arms as long as they are willing to enter our society and adhere to our overall culture. A Morman may enter, assuredly, but not with 30 wives recognized by our society as legal partners. A Muslim may enter, assuredly, but not with 30 wives, nor even one who is allowed to be beaten, stoned to death, or otherwise oppressed in opposition to our laws and customs. Any Muslims may enter legally and participate fully in our society as long as they understand that at any time, an artist in our culture may paint a portrait of Mohammed in excrement and submerse it in urine and hang it in one of our national tax-payer supported museums and they can complain about it all they want, but they do not get to riot or disturb the peace in any way. Period. Because we are a free society, and they can either join in, or stay out. If that makes any particular Muslim want to bomb us for being the infidels we certainly are to one religion or another, at one time or another, due to cherishing and promoting free expression, then it is encumbent upon us to make sure that that Muslim is not one we freely let into our country and our society.

    It is responsibility, not rhetoric, which is of dire necessity.

  52. Kat, while I don’t agree with you on every statement, your comment embodies a great deal of common sense and humanity. Thank you for contributing to this conversation!

  53. Judge Smails-
    What I’m getting from you is that you’re anti-Muslim. Would you agree or disagree with that asessment?

    Note that I am not asking for your opinion on forcing women to wear burquahs or flying airplanes into skyscrapers, neither of which is necessary for inclusion in the religion of Islam.

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