Time to stand up for religious freedom: Lay off of Rep. Ellison


It was just sad when Dennis Prager prostituted U.S. history to rant at Minnesota’s U.S. Representative-elect Keith Ellison, for Ellison’s having said he’d use his faith’s scriptures for a staged photograph commemorating his being sworn in as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Ignorance can be so ugly.

It was jarring when so many others demonstrated their ignorance of the First Amendment and Constitutional history by repeating Prager’s concerns. Ignorance is contagious.

It was tragic when a few people, after having had a chance to repent of their ignorance, then mounted an assault on the Constitution by continuing to demand something was wrong with the situation, even calling for Ellison to give up his faith for the ceremony. Ignorance can be cured, why would anyone reject the cure?

It’s time to stop piling stupidity on stupidity: Rep. Virgil Goode (ironically named, no doubt), a Republican representing much of southern Virginia in the U.S. House (5th District) took aim at Ellison’s election itself, calling for “immigration reform” to prevent a Muslim takeover of Congress.

Goode’s comments are insensitive, xenophobic, insulting, demonstrative of ignorance, and just wrong on so many counts it is hard to determine which rebuttal is more important. So, random rebuttals follow. [I’ve come back to this four times today. It makes me amazingly angry, and I have to take a break.]

First, Keith Ellison is a born-in-the-U.S.A. citizen. His heritage doesn’t include immigrants for the past 200 years, I’ve heard. Rep. Goode’s baiting of the immigrant issue is pure demagoguery, completely unfettered from fact or reason, or sense.

Second, Ellison’s Minnesota district is overwhelmingly born-in-the-U.S.A. voters. It wasn’t immigrants who voted for him to put him into office. Ellison served a couple of terms in the Minnesota legislature where he was a hot shot, a legislative star on several issues. Goode’s comments insult Americans everywhere, but especially Minnesotans who voted for Ellison apparently because he’s a helluva legislator. Virginia’s 5th District might yearn for a man of such quality, especially since it appears so strongly that they lack such a man of quality and reason now.

Third, the population of the U.S. who follow Islam are approximately equal to the population of the U.S. who follow Judaism — Rep. Goode’s remarks would apply to both groups, of course, but were he to make such a religious slam at Jews, holy hell would appropriately break loose from even the right wing. Moslems have exactly 1 of 538 seats in Congress, less than two-tenths of one percent (remember, one percent is 1/100; we’re talking 18/10,000ths of Congress that’s Moslem). Goode was just wrong, and he should apologize to Moslems, to Minnesota, to Ellison, and to the people of the 5th District of Virginia.

Fourth, the immigrant population of the U.S. is overwhelmingly NOT Moslem. What in the world was Goode thinking? Clearly, he wasn’t thinking at all.

To its credit, the board of the Holocaust Museum, where Dennis Prager sits as one of 68 board members, issued a resolution rebuking Prager. Sanity and honor start sneaking back into the picture.

Goode’s gaffe probably isn’t so severe that he need resign right away. But one wonders if there is honor left in the Republican leadership so that they might take the man aside and explain to him the facts of immigration, the U.S. Constitution which Goode has sworn to uphold, and how stupid it is to demagogue when one has no facts at all on one’s side.

The abuse of the Constitution and the hate-filled invective and just stupid claims directed at Representative-elect Ellison do not help our war on terrorism; they do nothing to help resolve immigration issues; they do nothing to make Congress work better. On each of those counts, they contribute to exacerbation of the problems.

Let’s hope the Republican leadership and/or the people of Virginia can set Rep. Goode back on the straight and narrow (which may be happening). Rep. Ellison is no less a citizen, no less a member of Congress than anyone else, and attempts to make him change his faith, or to simply denigrate his faith, are beneath the dignity of the Capitol Dome (and the Apotheosis of Washington depicted there).

Rep. Goode has dug a big hole; apologies are due now, and for some time to come.

6 Responses to Time to stand up for religious freedom: Lay off of Rep. Ellison

  1. steve s says:

    (And no, don’t tell me about that guy with the Jeep in Chapel Hill, I live in Chapel Hill, and that guy was just f*&^ing nuts.)

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  2. steve s says:

    I don’t care for islam any more than I care for christianity. But the fact is, we’ve got 3 million muslims here, and as far as I know, they’ve never suicide bombed any starbuckses, or shot up any crowds, or what have you, so I have to conclude that islam is not any big barrier to civilized living.

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  3. edarrell says:

    Porlock – yes, it’s 18/10,000. Thanks for the correction.

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  4. Goode is an idiot. Ellison is not an immigrant. And what’s wrong with having muslim immigrants anyway?

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  5. Damn straight, except for one thing: Isn’t he 18 TEN-thousandths of the Congress?

    BTW has anyone ever thought about the provision that no religious test shall EVER be applied…? Emphasis mine, but the very presence of the word is a powerful emphasis in the original. Like, how many other provisions say that? Is there reason to assume that the rest will expire, so we need to single this one out? Looks very much like somebody getting carried away; with good reason, of course.

    Kinda like, to go off topic a bit, that little explanatory clause in the 2nd amendment. If there’s another bit of the Constitution witb a little clause for “why we’re doing it this way” (apart from the Preamble, for which that explanation is almost the entire point), I’ve missed it. Somebody had something in mind, but it seems to have been lost.

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  6. Dan says:

    Yes, those things are all beneath the dignity of the Capitol Dome. Unfortunately, said Dome is an inanimate object with no say in the governance of our country. These days, we leave that up to clueless assholes like Goode. Although in the name of total accuracy, he’s probably a pretty good representative of the population of SW Virginia.

    Prager, at least, is largely just an irrelevant twat.

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