Fear is a potent weapon. Animals use fear both as a defensive tactic (by growling, shaking a rattle, bearing teeth, etc.) and as a defensive strategy by running away from things that scare them. Fear, in itself, isn’t a bad thing at all. Fear is our first line of defense against danger.

However, irrational fear is a crippling affliction. The world is full of potential harm and to attempt to protect yourself from all of its dangers will paralyse you. Anyone suffering from clinical anxiety will tell you how damaging irrational fear is.

When politicians promulgate irrational fear, my upper lip starts to twitch and sweat. Weaponizing racism and xenophobia corrodes our national character and turns us against one another. Fear has never bred decency.

This lesson can be learn, once again, from Virginan Representative Virgil Goode, whose last name is so ironically villainous as to be a clichè. Goode isn’t what one would call a multiculturist.

«”I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. 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.”» [1]

Goode is referring to his counterpart Keith Ellison (“now they are taking our last names to blend in with us!”). Ellison insisted on taking his oath of office on the book of his faith, the Koran. Goode is pissed about it.
However, Ellison’s request isn’t without precedent. Goode is making political hay of it, though, and that’s disgusting. We do not insist that Jewish representives swear oaths on a Bible.

If I had my way, I’d do away with the the holy books in oath ceremonies entirely and make people take oaths on the Constitution. If a congressman doesn’t consider that document important enough for oaths, I don’t really want them to have his job.

Goode considers Ellison the vanguard of some Muslim conspiracy, it seems:

«”[Ellison is] a serious threat to the traditional values of the nation”» [2]

I don’t exactly know what threat Goode is referring to. I assume he has a lot of time on his hands to be looking for new, hidden conspiracies since all other problems facing Congress have apparently been resolved. Oh wait, no they haven’t.

We’ve been told many, many times that our war on terrorism isn’t a war on Islam, but many in the Middle East aren’t so sure about this. Presentative Goode’s comments make it hard for the U.S. to engage and pursuade the rational Muslims of Iraq, Iran, Syriah and the rest of the Fertile Crescent that U.S. foreign policy is really in their best interests too.

What’s worse, xenophobia turns our backs on this nation’s defining characteristic: cultural pluralism. We can argue about what’s the right number of immigrants to allow into the country each year. We can argue about how to deal with illegal immigration. We should not be talking about what creeds or ethnic groups to exclude from our national life.

We have always benefited from the “brain drain” of other countries who chose to make the lives of their educated middle class difficult. Immigrants from Europe, Russia, Iran, Turkey, North Africa have all contributed to the American way of life. We should be slow to shut door on those who can help us make a better country.

I would ask Mister Goode to stop pandering to our basest fears of “the other” and wake up to the reality of globalization. Unless “globization” is just a stand-in for “American economic empirialism.” In that case, you can count me out.