Friday, December 22, 2006

Fear and Ignorance

Not pretry related but I must get this off my chest...

Sometimes in a democracy we get lucky and select men and women with the intellect and humility to provide good and thoughtful leadership. Unfortunately this is not always the case, and I am reminded of this by the words of Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr. - 5th Congressional Dist. of Virginia.

In a letter to his constituents, Congressman Goode said, "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." He adds, "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." He is of course referring to Congressman elect Keith Ellison. Ellison is the first Muslin elected to Congress.

Goode's letter to his constituents is interesting because it appears to serve only one purpose. To propagate contempt for those of other faiths and nationalities. Such contempt is not surprisingly based upon ignorance. Perhaps both fear and ignorance. They seem to walk hand-in-hand these days.

For starters, Congress is sworn in as a group and no book of religious significance is required. Many will later pose for photo-ops with a book in their hand. Yes a Bible has been used, as well as the Old Testament by some of Jewish faith and The book of Mormon by those of the Mormon faith. I seems rather silly to make such a deal over a prop for a photo-op because that is basically what it amounts to.

Of greater significance to Congressman Goode is the fact that Keith Ellison is Muslin. This is the force driving his fear and hate. He warns that if America is not awaken, more immigrants will come to America and more Muslims will be elected to Congress. The immigrants point here is misrepresented in that Keith Ellison was not an immigrant to the U.S. but a good old American citizen. Imagine that!

It was John F. Kennedy who said, "Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others." By our tolerance to others, we honor America's commitment to those principals on which this nation was founded. How easy it has become, under the guise of a "War on Terror" to allow ourselves to waver from so many of our basic beliefs as a nation.

I would like to believe that Congressman Goode was simply trying to pander to his constituents. That of course would not excuse his actions, but it is so hard to accept that people will twist Christian principals of tolerance and our own Constitutional principals of equality and religious freedom to fit such a narrow and hateful view.
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