BIGOTRY comes in various guises — some coded, some closeted, some colossally stupid. The bigotry displayed recently by Rep. Virgil Goode Jr., a Republican who represents a patch of south-central Virginia, falls squarely in the third category. Goode, evidently in a state of xenophobic delirium, went on a semi-public tirade against the looming peril and corrupting threat posed by Muslim immigration to the United States. "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," he wrote in a letter to constituents.

The inspiration for Goode's rant is Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who last month became the first Muslim elected to Congress. Ellison, who was born in Detroit and converted to Islam in college, has decided to use

the Quran during a ceremonial swearing-in, as is his constitutional right. This does not sit well with Goode, who, obnoxiously referring to his congressional colleague-to-be as "the Muslim representative from Minnesota," warned ominously that current immigration policy would lead to an outbreak of elected Muslims in this country and unfettered use of the Quran.

Forget that Muslims represent a small fraction of immigrants to America.


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And leave aside the obvious point that Goode evidently was napping in class the day they taught the traditional American values of tolerance, diversity and religious freedom. This country's history is rife with instances of uncivil, hateful and violent behavior toward newcomers, be they Jewish, Irish, Italian or plenty of others whose ethnicities did not jibe with some pinched view of what it means to be American. Goode's dimwitted outburst of nativism is nothing new.

No, the real worry for the nation is that the rest of the world might take Goode seriously, interpreting his biased remarks about Muslims as proof that America really has embarked on a civilizational war against Islam. With 535 members, you'd think Congress would welcome the presence of a single Muslim representative. Whether it can afford a lawmaker of Goode's caliber is another question.

Washington Post

Editorial

Safe from a Beatle

PAPERS just released on FBI surveillance of the late John Lennon serve to remind us of the old but wise cautionary note about studying history so mistakes can be avoided in the future.

It's been known for some time that the late J. Edgar Hoover's FBI was under the direction of an eccentric who liked to focus on juicy tidbits about movie stars and civil rights leaders, along with, of course, the personal lives of the Kennedys. Hoover's agency did some good work, to be sure, and still does today. But for a time there in the activist'60s and'70s, the blue suits of the FBI were assigned some ill-considered tasks.

In the case of Lennon, a free-spirited Beatle who supported liberal causes, the FBI followed the efforts of two British leftists to persuade him to lend them financial backing. He didn't, but the bureau watched. (The documents were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. They previously had been withheld because of, unbelievably, national security.)

The agency even wrote up reports on interviews Lennon had given, which calls to mind the files found in some government archives wherein newspaper stories had been clipped and classified — after being read by hundreds of thousands of people.

In the days when Lennon, who was shot to death in 1980 by a deranged fan, was active, being a rock'n' roller could be enough to get you into the FBI's files. That was a waste of the government's time and the people's money. Not to mention that most of these showbiz folks were concentrating on their music and their movies and their money and wouldn't have been inclined to organize and overthrow a lemonade stand, much less the government. 

The information in these documents simply goes to show how far-fetched were some of Hoover's ideas about security risks, and how dangerous it was to have such an individual in charge of this important and powerful agency.

Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer

Editorial