Unclear on the Concept

Happy New Year, Shakers! I hope you all had an enjoyable Holiday season... nice how we won't have to hear about the "War on Christmas" for, oh, two or three months now.

I spent much of the holiday trying to avoid "news" and keep my ulcer from getting any worse. Of course, when I return, I see The Usual Gang of Idiots* are still up to their old tricks. Virgil Goode, for example, is still in hand-wringing hysterics over those evil, evil Muslims. After being justifiably spanked for his ridiculous bigoted comments regarding Keith Ellison, he decides to go one step further and "explain himself" in an amazingly stupid USAToday op-ed. Save Judeo-Christian values, illegal immigrants will bring about our doom... the usual bullshit. Here's my favorite bit (bolds mine):
Let us remember that we were not attacked by a nation on 9/11; we were attacked by extremists who acted in the name of the Islamic religion. I believe that if we do not stop illegal immigration totally, reduce legal immigration and end diversity visas, we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to infiltration by those who want to mold the United States into the image of their religion, rather than working within the Judeo-Christian principles that have made us a beacon for freedom-loving persons around the world.

So, let's see...
  • Accusing "extremists" of wanting to "mold the United States into the image of their religion" while demanding adherence to Judeo-Christian principles without a trace of irony... check.
  • Demanding control over immigration while touting "freedom" without a trace of irony... check.
  • Expecting "freedom-loving persons" around the world to see us as a "beacon of freedom" while simultaneously closing off the rest of the world without a trace of irony... check.

Wow, I think he hit the trifecta! I love how he's still beating that diversity visa "we only want Europeans" point to death, too.

To their credit, USAToday issued a response to this idiocy:
Keith Ellison's election to the House, as the chamber's first Muslim, provides the United States with a grand opportunity to showcase its credentials as a nation of opportunity, equality and diversity.

What a great story to tell the Muslim world. Five years after 9/11, voters in America's heartland elected Ellison, an African-American who grew up in Detroit and converted to Islam in college, to one of the nation's highest offices. The 43-year-old Democrat took 56% of the vote in his Minneapolis-area district.

Ellison upped the chance to polish America's image for religious tolerance, as well, when he said he'd use Islam's holy book, the Quran, at his ceremonial swearing-in this week.

That's when the chance to shine was tarnished by a few ugly voices. The loudest belongs to Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., who used the occasion to take a crude swipe not only at Ellison and the Quran, but at all Muslims.


Other critics of Ellison's desire to carry the Quran, a holy book meaningful to him, ranted that the Bible and only the Bible is the basis of America's values.

They couldn't be more wrong about the essence of the nation's values. Nor could Goode about what the nation has to fear.

They're even wrong on their facts.

As Goode, who is starting his sixth term, surely knows, House members are officially sworn in without any religious book. They simply raise their hands in a mass ceremony in the chamber. In unofficial ceremonies later, they re-enact the oath, often with a Bible, for commemorative photos.

Some Jewish members and others have chosen holy books other than the Bible. Even presidents have strayed from using the Bible when taking the oath of office.

In 1825, John Quincy Adams reportedly used a law volume. News accounts say Theodore Roosevelt used no Bible in taking his first oath of office, in 1901. It's Ellison's constitutional right to choose a book that's meaningful to him.

Tolerance and religious freedom are at America's heart. So is the nation's embrace of people from all countries and cultures.

Several million Muslims live in the USA. It is to the nation's credit that one of them will join Congress this week. And if Goode is worried about Muslim immigrants, he's about 260 years too late in Ellison's case. Ellison traces his ancestors to Louisiana in 1742.

Goode and other critics could learn something from the man whose actions they've vilified.

2007 is looking pretty damn good already.

(I, by the way, rang in the New Year by dancing the night away at Chicago's Dank Haus ballroom to the crazed musical stylings of The Polkaholics. These madmen performed a 15 minute version of The Chicken Dance ; my legs are still sore. 2007 is looking great.)

*With apologies to Mad Magazine

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