Dear Mr. Cruickshank:
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. 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. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.
The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.”
Thank you again for your e-mail and thoughts.
Virgil H. Goode, Jr.
This Congressman’s letter has created a small furor stateside, but such anti-Muslim screeds must be understood both through the prism of American political history, or the “paranoid style” as one author has called it, and the relevant contemporary political dynamics, namely the “war on terror.” Below I have offered some historical context, namely from Samuel Morse in 1835, and please read full text if you have an hour to kill.
The irony, of course, being that the Mssr. Goode knows nothing about this tradition and such ignorance is indeed the hallmark of nativism here, there and everywhere. I would pause here to add that those “multi-culturalists” criticizing the Mr. Goode’s comments as un-American (by citing Thomas Jefferson or the melting pot) are equally ignorant of American history. Most disappointing, however, are those Americans who repeat this nonsense in the full ignorance of their family’s own migration to and history in the United States (Yes, I am talking to you, Irish-German-French Catholics in the middle states — you know who you are).
If anything, Mr. Goode’s forebearers had to be more adept in their chauvinistic atavism as their “enemies” took good news from the same book as the righteous. I have also chosen this passage from Mr. Morse (yes, he of the Code) so that all may be relieved of any illusions that a man’s capacity for science, technology or reason has any relation to the nature of his politics.
In considering the means of counteracting this foreign political conspiracy against our free institutions, I have said that we must awake to the reality and extent of the danger, and rouse ourselves to immediate and rigorous action in spreading religious and intellectual cultivation through the land. This indeed would be effectual, but this remedy is remote in its operation, and is most seriously retarded by the enormous increase of ignorance which is flooding the country by foreign immigration. While therefore the remote effects of our exertions are still provided for, the pressing exigency of the case seems to require some more immediate efforts to prevent the further spread of the evil. The two-fold character of the enemy who is attacking us must be well considered. Popery is doubly opposed,—civilly and religiously,—to all that is valuable in our free institutions. As a religious system, it is the avowed and common enemy of every other religious sect in the land. The Episcopalian, the Methodist, the Presbyterian, the Baptist, the Quaker, the Unitarian, the Jew, & c. & c., are alike anathematized, are together obstinate heretics, in the creed of the Papist. He wages an indiscriminate, uncompromising, exterminating war with all.
And round and round, we go …
Post-script: I would also like to add this post to my dossier on why my Lebanese friends should stop complaining about the “backwardness” of their country. Yalla chabab, yours is the world’s most dysfunctional country, except for all the others. If the Lebanese are poorer or get killed or kill themselves at more regular intervals then you need only look at Lebanon’s place in the geo-politcal and economic order to understand why. The sociology of singularity has run its course, so khalas narcissus! Draw yourself away from the waters or you just might drown there …
Post-post-script: Required reading for understanding the world’s “cultural” wars. The author is one of the smartest people I have ever met and my intellectual orientation owes a debt to his wisdom.