Virgil Goode, Republican Congressman from Virginia sent this letter to a constituent in December (comments have been made on other blogs):
Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-4605
December 7, 2006
Mr. John Cruickshank
7—— S—————————— Dr.
Earlysville, VA 22936
Dear Mr. Cruickshank:
Thank you for your recent communication. 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 email and thoughts.
Virgil H. Goode, Jr.
70 East Court Street
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
I'm not sure quite how this letter can be interpreted except as racist- this isn't an argument against immigration based on space, based on the welfare state, but an argument based on the need to avoid contamination from non-WASP or non-European elements- this is a quite flagrantly racist letter and what makes it worse is that when questioned by journalists about the letter, Congressman Goode said that
I wrote the letter. I think it speaks for itself
so at least we know that there is no misconstruction, no extenuating reason, according to the Congressman himself its fair to understand his views from the letter- so we know that the Congressman is terrified by the arrival of Muslims because they might want to swear oaths on the Koran and also might elect other Muslims. He doesn't like non-European immigration and he feels threatened by Muslims exercising their democratic rights.
Now those would be views that you would expect to find in a fringe Republican intellectual- some nobody from nowhere'sville, but this isn't a nobody but a US Congressman- I'm looking forward to seeing whether he gets a primary challenge in 2008 or is forced to issue a better explanation- if he isn't or doesn't then just like the unchallenged Trent Lott, it says something about how racially inclusive the Republican Party is.
NOTE Tom Paine in the comments has said that I've been too quick to jump to an accusation of bigotry. He also corrects me that it isn't racism- we do need a word to describe this because attacks on a person because of their religious faith instead of their race are becoming more common. There are in my view legitimate attacks on particular ideas- or versions- but you can't attack legitimately the essence of a religion because as I've argued here there are problems especially with the biggest religions of the world in defining an essence for that religion. In truth the definition of what a religion is is a real problem- my own position for what its worth, analysed with respect to Islam in that earlier post, is that a religious person- so a Muslim say- is a person who takes up a position in a particular language game where one of the rules of the game is the use of the Koran or Hadith as a font of legitimacy.