Sunday, December 24, 2006

Virgil Goode and His Koran-Wielding Bogeyman

Speaking of immigration . . . you've no doubt heard about the controversy over Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode's attack on Congressman-elect Keith Ellison. Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, is the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, and he has said he plans to use the Koran rather than the Christian Bible during his private, unofficial swearing-in ceremony. (Traditionally, no book of any kind is used during the public, official swearing-in ceremony for members of Congress.)

In response, Goode denounced Ellison in a letter to his own constituents, saying, among other things,

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.
Later, when interviewed on Neil Cavuto's Fox TV program on December 22nd, Goode invoked the nightmare scenario of "a majority of Muslims elected to the United States House of Representatives." (Let's see: After 226 years, we just elected our first-ever Muslim to Congress, leaving 434 non-Muslim representatives. If we add another Muslim every 226 years, how long until Muslims make up a majority? Maybe someone with better math skills can help me with the projection.)

Now, the "immigration" issue is a total red herring in this case, since Ellison is not an immigrant to this country--in fact, his family has been in the US since 1742. But it gives at least a wisp of plausible cover to Goode's bigotry. And that's plenty for the conservative punditocracy to run with, as seen in the following exchange on CNN's Situation Room. ("Jeffrey" is Terry Jeffrey, editor of the conservative magazine Human Events.)
JEFFREY: I'm someone who lived in the Muslim world. Twenty years ago I lived in Cairo, Egypt, studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo, had Muslim roommates. I believe Cairo may be the largest Muslim city in the world. It is a city that is very peaceful and not much crime there, a great place. I know that Muslims can be good neighbors. I know they can be good neighbors and Americans here.

I do think under Virgil Goode's concern, there is something Americans should think about. America is a culture I think is basically rooted in the Judeo-Christian civilization of the West. Egypt is a country that is rooted in the civilization of Islam. I think history has shown where you have countries that are divided between those two civilizations it causes friction we don't want to have in the United States and I think that's a legitimate concern for immigration policy.

BLITZER: You think we should block Muslims from coming into this country?

JEFFREY: I think we need to have a immigration policy to make sure the immigrants we bring in are assimilated into our culture and become fully Americans.

And I think quite frankly right now we have a situation where we've had too many immigrants come in legally and illegally and the at the same time the engines of assimilation in the United States have been broken down by multiculturalism.

I think we need to solve that first.
This "clash of civilizations" blather is useful because it makes anti-immigrant spokespeople like Jeffrey, Pat Buchanan, and Lou Dobbs sound like thoughtful, big-picture analysts concerned about the grand sweep of history, the rise and fall of empires, cultural trajectories, and other hifalutin topics out of Edward Gibbon or Samuel Huntington rather than simple bigots a la David Duke.

But let's spend ninety seconds analyzing their actual position. The conservatives evidently want to stop immigration by non-"Judeo-Christians." That eliminates not only Muslims but Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and adherents of most of the other religions of Asia, Africa, and the developing world (to say nothing of atheists and other non-believers). Too bad if you're a Japanese scientist, an Indian computer programmer, a Taiwanese mathematician, or an engineer from Nigeria--you're not welcome in Virgil Goode's America.

The challenge is even bigger than this, however. Remember the Mexicans, the only group that the Lou Dobbses of the world are more worried about than even the Muslims. The last time I looked, the Mexicans were Christians--many of them quite devout, as it happens. But in the eyes of conservative anti-immigrationists, their Christian faith doesn't make up for the fact that they're poor, often relatively unskilled, and eager to take jobs in the US at modest wages. So accepting "Judeo-Christian" culture won't earn you a welcome from the guardians of our borders--bad news for the millions of people from Central and South America who would like to help participate in (and build) the US economy.

It's beginning to be unclear who exactly would qualify to enter the US if Goode or Jeffrey were in charge of immigration policy.

Africans? Maybe if they are middle-class, highly educated, and untainted by "multiculturalism"--no Kente cloth or bougaroubou music, please!

Western Europeans? Surely not those secular-minded, Muslim-appeasing, brie-eating, Volvo-driving, universal-health-care-guaranteeing surrender monkeys (who in any case are going the way of the Etruscans and can't be bothered to reproduce their own numbers, let alone providing emigres to the US).

I suppose we could make room for a few Canadians or Australians, if they are the right sort. (At least they know English, our noble language under siege from the bilingualists.)

But hey, let's just keep this simple. The ideal solution is to shut and lock the doors to America and throw away the keys. That's the only way we can be sure we're protecting America from the mortal danger posed by Keith Ellison and his Koran.

What a weird, frightening fantasy world Virgil Goode and his conservative compatriots must live in. They would surely deserve our pity . . . except for the fact that, in the real world, they wield power which they use to make life harder for the rest of us, all in a vain effort to stave off the nightmares they live with.

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