"Religious Intolerance Does Not Exemplify Nation's Values," a Commentary by Bill Maxwell

January 3, 2007

Author: Bill Maxwell

Source: Ventura County Star


CHASE CITY, Va. -- The Christmas holidays brought me to southern Virginia, where Republican Rep. Virgil Goode recently made headlines.

When the majority of voters in most parts of the nation have told the GOP they are weary of blatant intolerance and crude attacks against people with whom they disagree, Goode continues to spew Islamophobia and anti-immigrant paranoia.

The Rocky Mount congressman, who represents the deeply conservative 5th District, is now known internationally for a letter he mailed two weeks ago to constituents expressing outrage a Minnesota district had elected a Muslim, Keith Ellison, to represent them in the U.S. House and that Ellison, a Democrat, has announced he wants to hold the Quran during a swearing-in ceremony.

In addition to being the first black to represent Minnesota in Congress, Ellison is the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. Congress.

Goode's district stretches from the North Carolina line north to Greene County, is mostly rural and white. I have acquaintances and relatives who vote in the district. They see Goode as an embarrassment.