Islamophobia 101–Episode 6: Intolerance from U.S. Congressman Virgil Goode

Posted on December 20, 2006


Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) displayed blatant intolerance with the anti-Muslim remarks he made in a recent letter to a constituent.

Goode’s letter to the head of the local Sierra Club chapter criticized the planned use of a Quran for the ceremonial swearing-in of Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress. “I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way,” wrote Goode. “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.”

Goode also showed concern about the growth of the American Muslim community. He wrote, “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.”

To read the full text of Congressman Goode’s letter, please click here.

Note from Rafik Beekun: As a lifelong, registered member of the Republican party and a former president of the Northern Nevada Republican Men’s Club, I am appalled by the intolerant comments made by a US Congressman elected from my party. Although the Republicans I work with have always shown tremendous understanding and empathy towards Islam and Muslims, clearly U.S. Congressman Goode needs to re-read the Constitution and Bill of Rights of the USA and determine whether he still suscribes to the part about freedom of religion. Finally, since Keith Ellison traces his family’s roots in America to the year 1742, how many centuries does one have to be settled in the USA before one is no longer considered an immigrant? When did Congressman Goode’s ancestors come to America? If we use the same standards he is applying to Ellison and to other Muslims, is he not also still an immigrant? If so, what then are the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America? 

Goode needs to remember that he was elected to represent ALL of his constituents, not just one specific segment.  With his intolerant attitude, will he be able to work with Ellison as his peer?

In any work setting, we have to understand the prevalence of biases, and work at removing them. To benefit fully from the synergies associated with a diverse workforce, leaders and managers must make sure that the beliefs and rights of all their constituents/employees/workers are respected. In fact, this is the Islamic attitude towards tolerance and diversity when Allah states in the Qur’an: “To you be your Way and to me mine.” (109: 6)

December 21, 2006 Followup to the above: Congressman Goode is adamant and will not apologize for his comments. Please click here to watch the video clip from NBC news.. In the video, Congressman Goode states that he “will not be putting [his] hand on the Qur’an.” That is fine, Congressman Goode; nobody asked you to.