Saturday, December 23, 2006

Religious Freedom Is A Traditional American Value

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Republican congressman Virgil H. Goode, Jr., a Christian, tells Keith Ellison, a newly elected member of Congress, that (a) he has no right to serve in Congress because he is Muslim; (b) he has no right to use the Koran in a private swearing-in ceremony; and (c) U.S. immigration policy should bar Muslims from immigrating to the United States (although this was a total non sequitur, because Keith Ellison is an American). Imagine if a newly elected Jewish congressman were told his religion should bar him from serving in Congress, or that he should be required to put his hand on the Christian bible instead of the Tanakh during a private swearing-in ceremony, or that U.S. immigration policy should bar Jews anywhere in the world from immigrating to the United States. Imagine the outrage if that Jewish congressman were blamed for complaining about such treatment.

That is exactly what has been happening to Keith Ellison ever since Virgil Goode made his hateful, racist remarks demanding that candidates for Congress submit to religious tests:

  • Daniel Pipes, a well-known Jewish, right-wing policy wonk and author, and director of Middle East Forum, a neoconservative think tank, is saying that Rep. Goode "is the latest target of an Islamic advocacy group's 'victimization game.' " The advocacy group to which Pipes refers is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) -- the same CAIR, let it be noted, that sent representatives to stand in solidarity with Jewish Holocaust survivors, in a ceremony held at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum after the Iran Holocaust Denial Conference.
  • Wolf Blitzer also blamed Keith Ellison for Goode's attack on him, saying on Thursday's edition of CNN's The Situation Room that Ellison " 'touched off controversy recently when he indicated he'd include the Quran as part of his swearing-in ceremony,' while Goode 'has done his best to add to the controversy.' "
  • The White House, always quick to condemn any criticisms of U.S. foreign policy as "anti-Bush hatred" or "anti-American propaganda," has been silent on Rep. Goode's comments -- and actually declined to criticize those comments, or make any public statement at all about the attacks on Ellison.

Maha puts the not-so-good Goode fracas into a much-needed historical context .

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