Dennis Prager fan club?

Cluelessness is apparently not limited to media personalities — it can be found in the US House of Representatives as well.  Dennis Prager started a storm of discussion in the media and the blogosphere with his opinion piece saying it was wrong for freshman Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to the House of Representatives, to want to take his oath of office on a Koran.  See my earlier post here.

As reported in the Washington Post, Representative Virgil Goode (R-Va) made the same criticism in a letter he sent to his constituents.  The full text of the letter can be read here

Goode wrote:

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.

In his letter, Goode demonstrates a great deal of prejudice and ignorance.  Ellison was born in Detroit.  His Congressional district includes all of the city of Minneapolis and some surrounding suburban territory — clearly not a place where he was elected by a large Muslim polity.  Ellison is someone born in America who was elected by people who were born in America.

Goode also wrote:

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.

Goode may be right.  Hullabaloo quotes one of the earliest anti-immigration pieces on record in America:

For example, in one of the earliest anti-immigration utterances on record, an Ohio Valley Indian said this to an English missionary:

"We have great reason to believe you intend to drive us away, and settle the country; or else, why do you come to fight in the land that God has given us?"

"Why don’t you and the French fight in the old country, and on the sea? Why do you come to fight on our land? This makes everybody believe you want to take the land from us by force, and settle it."

If we follow Goode’s advice and adopt strict immigration policies, we will be abandoning the very values and beliefs that Goode seems to so treasure.  Take a look at the Statue of Liberty, Representative Goode, which has inscribed upon it a poem by Emma Lazarus: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I life my lamp beside the golden door!"

In a response, Goode refused to apologize, and said "The voters of each Congressional district select the representative that they choose to represent them."  That may be true, Mr. Goode, but a bigot is an embarassment to the entire country, not just the district that elected him.

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Barry Leff

Rabbi Barry (Baruch) Leff is a dual Israeli-American business executive, teacher, speaker and writer who divides his time between Israel and the US.

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