Monday, December 25, 2006

A Gentile behaves very badly

Congressman Virgil Goode has, throughout his political career, been known as someone who marches to his own tune. Unfortunately, that tune no longer is consistent with the US Constitution.

When Dennis Prager criticized congressman-elect Keith Ellison for planning a symbolic swearing-in ceremony using a copy of the Koran, criticism was quick to come from right and left. But Prager is just a writer and talk show host, with no influence over anyone who doesn't choose to listen to him. (And Prager is actually correct on a lot of things -- just not this one!) Goode, on the other hand, is a member of the US House of Representatives -- thankfully, soon to be part of the minority party which will have little influence -- and he went even further than Prager in expressing bigotry.

Here is Congressman Goode's letter:

http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD/MGArticle/RTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1149192281186

An excerpt:

"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 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..."

Never mind the fact that the US Constitution prohibits religious tests for any public office, and guarantees free expression of religion (including use of the Koran for any purpose). And never mind that Ellison is not an immigrant but someone who had ancestors here during colonial times.

The question here is whether Goode should be sworn in at all, since it is questionable whether he is willing to uphold the Constution himself. The Richmond Times-Dispatch, a newspaper which for generations has been known for its far right wing editorial positions, took Goode to task for this:

http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD/MGArticle/RTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1149192301267

An excerpt:

"Goode's idea of traditional values and beliefs doesn't include some of the basic tenets of our democracy....As he holds up his right hand, Goode should remember what he's swearing to uphold. "

Well said.

6 Comments:

Anonymous goyguy said...

Concerning Rep. Goode, he sounds like he has a screw loose. When it comes to immigration, he is certainly correct that the Congress has the right, and in fact the duty, to control immigration.

The idea of "strict immigration policies that ... preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped" should be the goal of all our representatives, and all of us, too. If you don't like the US, don't play well with others, don't have a visa or don't have a way to support yourself, please apply elsewhere. To everyone else...Welcome to America! (When it's your turn)

As far as this Koran thing goes, WHO CARES? If you think a photo of you swearing in on a copy of a Victoria's Secret catalog is the thing to do, do it. The voters will let you know if it was a good idea the next time around.

For a member of Congress to be taking a stand on this non-issue is quite bizzare. If you want to say that no religious texts should be permitted at all, though I don't agree, it would at least be consistant. But this is kinda strange.

Oh, and one small point Mr Hall. You said that "The Richmond Times-Dispatch, a newspaper which for generations has been known for its far right wing editorial positions, took Goode to task for this" The author of that piece is a columnist, not the editor. So actually the 'Times-Dispatch' did no such thing. Although they should have.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

"The author of that piece is a columnist, not the editor."

I stand corrected. I tried searching the newspaper's site and did not find an official editorial.

'the Congress has the right, and in fact the duty, to control immigration'

Certainly the right. But duty? There were essentially no restrictions on immigration for the first 90 years or so of the Republic's existence.

9:41 PM  
Anonymous goyguy said...

Charlie Hall said:
"Certainly the right. But duty? There were essentially no restrictions on immigration for the first 90 years or so of the Republic's existence."

With all the back and forth on immigration in the news and politics, and all the different opinions on how to handle things, I have never heard anyone promote the END of immigration. Only different opinions on how many, from where, status of illegals etc. So clearly the American people almost universally support some sort of immigration controls and regulations. We all just have a different opinion on what they should be. Pretty much like it is with every issue.

So like with every other issue, Congress must take the political temperature of the American people and make immigration policies and laws that make political sense. Our founding fathers made only a few references to the issue in the Constitution.

Section 8- Powers of Congress

'To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization...'

Section 9- Limits on Congress

'The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.'

So they left immigration policy to the states until 1808, and after that left the establishment of these laws to the legislative branch. Which means they intentionally permitted these policies to be changed and re-changed for whatever political reasons Congress deems prudent at any given time.

So for the first 20 years or so after it's formation it seems Congress was prohibited from restricting immigration. Then, for another half century or so they decided for the political reasons of the times to leave things alone. After all it was a growing country and all.

Since today the opinion of almost every American is that we need immigration laws of some sort, then yes, it IS the duty of Congress to control immigration. However, these laws will aways be based on political considerations, of which "preserving the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America" is always going to be one of the biggies. I mean who would be against that? Of course the definition of those values is kind of arbitrary and open to much heated debate.

Which is why Congress will usually decide to do what they did in the 19th century. Pretty much ignore the issue and work on their re-election campaigns.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

Dear Goyguy,

Section 9 actually referred to the African Slave trade, which was outlawed in 1808, rather than the immigration that is of issue today.

Regarding Section 8, the first congress in 1790 established a 2 year residency requirement for naturalization. Nothing about immigration control. Within ten years, the residency requirement had been increased to 14 years! But after Jefferson's election it was reduced to 5 years where it has remained to this day -- although exceptions have been and continue to be made. (My mother-in-law was quickly naturalized after marrying my father-in-law despite no residency period at all. When government decides it wants something, it can make it happen quickly.)

It would be several more decades before there were even real border controls or examination of passenger manifests for immigrants arriving by sea. And it would not be until after the Civil War that any real numeric controls were instituted; to the shame of the US, the first major restriction was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1883. But in any case there is no evidence that anyone thought that there was a "duty" to control immigration for the first hundred years or so of the Republic.

World War I seriously curtailed immigration from Europe (it wasn't safe to cross the Atlantic) and then in 1924 the law was changed to severely restrict immigration from just about everywhere. This made it impossible for Jewish refugees from the Nazis to come to America. In 1965 the law was changed again to enable greater immigration and as a result the absolute numbers of immigrants are at record levels. However, it should be noted that as a percentage of the population, immigration rates were far higher in the mid 19th century.


"preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped"

This kind of argument was made during the 1840s when Irish and German immigrants were threatening to overrun east coast cities, and then again in the 1850s when Chinese immigrants were doing the same in California. Of course, without those immigrants the transcontinental railroad would not have been built. And every group that followed was considered by many to be unassimilable: The Italians and Jews of the late 18th century, Arabs and Armenians from about 100 years ago, and the French Canadians of the 1920s and 1930s, to name just a few. In every case, those cultures turned out to actually contribute to America. That will be the case with the current wave of immigrants from Asia and the Western Hemisphere.

9:18 PM  
Blogger The Anti-Semite said...

I commpletely disagree.

"Go Johnny go, Johnny B. Goode!"

What if a KKK congressman wants to swear on Mein Kampf? Should we let him as well?

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah at last, I found your post again. You have few [url=http://tipswift.com]useful tips[/url] for my school project. This time, I won't forget to bookmark it. :)

9:58 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home