Here we go. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, has yet to take office, and already the ugliness begins.
Mr. Ellison plans to bring his Koran with him on Jan. 4 when he takes the oath of office. The Koran is the Muslim holy book. If Christians and Jews can bring their Bibles, why shouldn’t Mr. Ellison be able to bring his Koran?
The answer given this week by Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode was simple enough: Because Mr. Goode doesn’t believe in the Koran, Mr. Ellison doesn’t have any right to either. I kid you not.
What could be less American? Or less Christian?
In a letter sent to constituents, Goode wrote: “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.”
It gets worse.
“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.”
More Muslims elected to office? More Muslims seeing our government as representative and fair? Is this a bad thing?
The Virgil Goode position on immigration is, basically, to stop it, especially immigration by Muslims. God forbid the world, especially the Muslim world, should see us as a country where diversity is valued and respected, and freedom of religion guaranteed.
“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,” Mr. Goode said in his letter to his constituents.
Goode, a five term Republican, opposes both legal and illegal immigration (it is not clear how the Goode’s got here), arguing that we need to “stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy…allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country.”
Where in the Bible does Mr. Goode find his basis for such hatred? And how in the world does Mr. Goode think we will ever fight terrorism, especially terrorism by Muslims, if we do not have the support, cooperation and trust of leaders in the Muslim community?
If we are viewed, at the highest levels, as damning all those who believe in the Koran, who will take our side? Don’t we want to encourage Muslims to believe in the political process and participate in it?
National Islamic groups have, understandably, condemned Goode’s remarks and called on Goode to apologize.
“Islamophobic remarks send a message of intolerance that is unworthy of anyone elected to public office. There can be no reasonable defense for such bigotry,” Corey Saylor of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told reporters this week.
“The Congressman is not apologizing,” his press secretary, Linwood Duncan has announced.
Apparently, he thinks he has nothing to apologize for.
Merry Christmas Mr. Goode. Perhaps you’ll take some time to open that Bible of yours, instead of using it as a weapon of hate. And when you do, you might learn something about how to treat a new colleague who, like you, is ready to pledge on all that is holy to him to uphold our Constitution and laws.
In the meantime, it should not just be Islamic groups who are standing up for the true spirit of Christmas.
Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission.
Estrich's books include the just published "Soulless," "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics Is Destroying the Criminal Justice System," "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders," "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women" and "Sex & Power," currently a Los Angeles Times bestseller.
She served as campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' presidential bid, becoming the first woman to head a U.S. presidential campaign. Estrich appears regularly on the FOX News Channel.