Sunday, December 24, 2006

Juan Cole Takes On Virgil H. Goode, Jr.

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What Virgil H. Goode, Jr., does not know about America's traditions and values with regard to religious freedom in this country could fill a library -- a library filled with the writings of Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and John Adams:

Republican Representative Virgil Goode of Virginia wrote his constituents,

"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 . .

The purpose of statements like that of Goode is to mark Muslim Americans as permanent outsiders and to rally bigotted Christians. (Just as the purpose of Tancredo's remarks is to do the same thing to Latinos). The technique is a fascist technique, of spreading hatred and demanding the 'purification' of the body public as a way of whipping up fervor in a constituency. It is shameful, but more, it is very, very dangerous. The United States of America depends for its survival on tolerance of diversity. Bigotry can easily tear it apart.

Islamophobia or Anti-Muslimism is now among the more pressing social pathologies infecting the US. If it becomes established and acceptable, then lots of other forms of bigotry will also grow in virulence. There could end up being blood in the streets.

Goode is first of all confused. The issue of freedom of religion for American Muslims has nothing to do with immigration. Congressman Keith Ellison is not an immigrant-- his family has been here since the 1700s, perhaps longer than Goode's. Tancredo's remarks on Miami are even nuttier if one realizes that Florida was Spanish for centuries before any Anglos settled there in numbers. It is the "whites" who are "immigrants" in Florida.

Goode's position is not only un-American and bigotted, but it is also actually unconstitutional.

A reader points out, "Virgil Goode should also consider, from the last paragraph of Article VI of the Constitution of the United States: ' religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.'"

Moreover, the First Amendment of the US Constitution (which perhaps Goode doesn't like very much?) says,

'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.'

This amendment forbids Goode and other congressmen from formally supporting one religion or sect over another. The "establishment" of religion in the 18th century meant that the state backed it, collected money from citizens for it, and used police to enforce its beliefs and rituals (Virginia jailed Quakers for refusing baptism).

But the amendment not only forbids the government from supporting a particular religion, it also guarantees that Americans can freely practice any religion they wish. The government cannot "prohibit" the "free exercise" of any religion in the US, including Islam.

If Goode sponsored a bill to limit immigration for the express purpose of excluding Muslim immigrants or preventing the free exercise of Islam, the bill would be unconstitutional.

Nor would the framers of the constitution have agreed with his attitude.

For details on why they would not have agreed, read the rest of Prof. Cole's piece.

1 comment:

comraderedoctober said...

I wrote a small piece on this topic. I hope you et al take a read. I have to wonder if this is not only a hate crime, but moreover an act of treason since our founding is based on equality.

treason: betrayal of one's country, specif., in the U.S. (as declared in the Constitution).

While the law itself it limited to "acts of war" it is a lead in to this act of civil war if any results are acted upon. I would place him first in line on the plane to The Hague for any crimes against humanity by his own words. An example of peace must be kept for the future of all the world to see.