Thursday, December 21, 2006


Jonah Goldberg's latest L.A. Times op-ed is actually worth reading, if you want a sense of the mental gymnastics some conservatives might engage in to justify their abandonment of litmus tests and embrace of Rudy Giuliani in 2008. (Goldberg argues that Giuliani could be America's Pim Fortuyn; Fortuyn, of course, was a Dutch political leader who was far-right on immigration, a stance Goldberg sees as analogous to Mayor Giuliani's battles with the likes of Al Sharpton and squeegee men, and non-traditional in his sex life -- in his case, openly gay rather than thrice married.)

But near the end of Goldberg's op-ed, I'm brought up short by one sentence, regarding Giuliani's potential for mounting a "broader defense of American civilization":

Giuliani's cheery immigrant story and his personal liberalism make him a particularly formidable spokesman for such a vision.

"Cheery immigrant story"?

Excuse me: Rudy Giuliani was born in Brooklyn, to parents who were themselves born in this country. His grandparents were Italian immigrants.

What does Goldberg think -- that any American with a lot of vowels in his surname is living an "immigrant story"?

My grandparents (on one side) and great-grandparents (on the other) were Italian immigrants. I guess that means I personally have an "immigrant story," right?

The folk etymology of the word "wop" is that it stands for "without passport." I guess, to Goldberg, all Eye-talians are wops.

(I'll ignore the fact that, if you're named Goldberg, presumably you have at least some ancestors who didn't come over on the Mayflower.)


There seems to be a lot of this kind of thinking going around on the right. You probably know about the letter sent out recently by GOP congressman Virgil 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.... 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 and to prevent our resources from being swamped....

Today's New York Times quotes the response of that congressman-elect, Keith Ellison, regarding his plan to use a Koran in his swearing-in ceremony:

Mr. Ellison dismissed Mr. Goode's comments, saying they seemed ill informed about his personal origins as well as about Constitutional protections of religious freedom. "I'm not an immigrant," added Mr. Ellison, who traces his American ancestors back to 1742. "I'm an African-American."

But, to Goode, Ellison is just another wop.


The Times story, like many other stories about Ellison, notes that

the actual swearing in of those lawmakers occurs without any religious texts. The use of the Bible or Koran occurs only in private ceremonial events that take place after lawmakers have officially sworn to uphold the Constitution.

But it also notes that Goode

vowed to use the Bible when taking his own oath of office.

Which is fine. But I'm worried that Republicans are going to use this swearing-in ceremony to launch a Bible War. I fear that many GOP members of Congress are going to show up with the biggest, baddest Bibles they can, and are going to make a great show of waving them before the cameras, just to drive a wedge between those of us who want America to be open to people of all faiths who share its values and those who respond to Muslim-bashing.

I hope that doesn't happen, but I fear it will. Muslim-bashing seems to be the new gay-bashing, which was once the new black-bashing -- and black-bashing, of course, worked hand in glove with immigrant-bashing just around the time Rudy Giuliani's grandparents stepped off the boat.

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