I've known Virgil since we were both in law school (he was third year my first year) and I can say from experience that I liked him better back in the 70's when we were both campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment or in the 80's when we both supported Doug Wilder for Lt. Governor and Governor. He has certainly "morphed" politically over the time that I have known him ... not for the better in my view.
Virgil says in his now infamous letter to some of his constituents (thanks, I'm Not Emeril, for the link to the full text), that we must "adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration" or there will be more Muslims elected to office and that we need to adopt "strict immigration policies" ... no more "diversity visas" to preserve "the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America."
Since when has discrimination based on race or religion been restored to status as a "traditional" "value" we must protect in America?
The gentleman elected to Congress who is a Muslim isn't an immigrant ... is Virgil really saying that a native born American citizen shouldn't be able to run for office because he is a Muslim? Is the implication here that, because Virgil sees the US as a "Christian nation," we must preclude nonChristians from seeking public office, even if they meet all other Constitutional requirements? Will he extend the election prohibition to Jews, Buddhists, atheists, Hindus, Quakers, Greek Orthodox ... Catholics, because, really, aren't we a Protestant Christian nation?
And, just what is the "Virgil Goode position on immigration" he demands we adopt? It is clear from his letter that it extends beyond reasoned opposition to illegal immigration and includes some largely unelucidated limits on legal immigration, but expressly includes elimination of the diversity visa program that Goode says is "allowing many persons from the Middle East" to come to this country.
The diversity visa program allows 55,000 (yup, thousand) people to emigrate to the US each year from countries with low rates of immigration. Each person must meet strict eligibility requirements (education and experience) and no person can come from a country that has sent more than 50,000 people to the US over the last 5 years. No more than 7% of the visas can go to people from one country in any one year. And, the 55,000 are divided among 6 global regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceana, South America/Central America/Carribean). Note that some of the countries in Virgil's "Middle East" are categorized in Africa and some Asia.
Mexico, India, Pakistan, Canada, Great Britain, China, Poland, Russia are currently not on the list of countries from which diversity visa applicants can come. That means all of these countries have sent more than 50,000 emigrees to the US over the last 5 years ... note that countries typically thought of as being in the Middle East are on the list of countries with low rates of immigration.
So, what is Goode really saying when he says he wants to eliminate "diversity" visas and keep Middle Eastern people out and Muslims from gaining political office?
Despite protestations from his defenders, I think that it is very hard to see his letter as other than an exhortation informed by bias against people of certain races, ethnicity or religion.
And that makes me sad.
It is not the Congressman from Minnesota who wants to place his hand on the Quran when he has his ceremonial (not official) private (not public) swearing in with whom we should be concerned.
It is the people who are the terrorists and extremists among us and across the world on whom we should be focused, be they Muslim or KKK, Protestant or Catholic, home grown militia members or members of foreign terrorist organizations.
To today's Virgil, who appears to view all Muslims as born or religiously-made terrorists (regardless of citizenship or religious antecedents) I say, taking a rhetorial turn from his beloved gun rights organizations, the Muslim faith doesn't kill people, people do.