Last updated on 2012.02.05
I joined several dozen fellow citizens for a town hall meeting with Congresswoman Kristi Noem today. I'll have full video and a breakdown of the hour-long program tomorrow.
But I want to turn first to a heinous screed issued by a citizen toward the end of the meeting. The audio is weak, so listen closely (I'll provide a transcript of the key statement below):
Tsars, Saul Alinksy, yadda yadda... but then, at 0:30:
...Recently here, Obama and Janet Napolitano appointed two Muslims, Kareem Shora, and Arif Alikhan, to the Department of Homeland Security. Now didn't we have some devout Muslims—now this is important for Janet, they were both devout Muslims—didn't we have devout muslims crash twice into the Trade Center? Didn't we have devout Muslims that killed 13 peoople at Fort Hood? Didn't we have devout Muslims that took over Flight 93 and crashed it? Didn't we have devout Muslims that cut Daniel Pearl's head off and threw Leon Klinghoffer over the side of a ship?
When I heard this anti-Muslim bigotry, regurgitated from e-mails that started getting forwarded in 2009 when President Obama appointed Kareem Shora and Arif Alikhan to serve their country, I almost spoke up. I almost interrupted and made a scene. My respect for the office and quasi-parliamentary decorum held me back. So did my fear that Noem's aides would see my outburst as cause to throw me out. I held my breath, turned the camera and my eyes directly toward my Congresswoman, and hoped she would have a John McCain moment and tell this uninformed rube to stick his religious bigotry and tired memes where the sun doesn't shine.
But she didn't, not at the mic. The speaker had rambled on to his issues with the media and with Republicans who, in his imagination, somehow don't sell their message with as much unity or aggression as Democrats. He thus tossed Noem a lot of manure around which to carefully step. She did not call the man out.
I hung around after the show. Nearly 40 minutes after the scheduled end of the program, after shaking hands and talking and taking photos with numerous other constituents, after doing a few minutes with the professional press, the Congresswoman made time to talk to me. I tried to keep it short. I said I was alarmed by the anti-Muslim bigotry expressed by the audience member. I asked her if she would disavow for the record such bigotry.
She nodded. "I definitely believe that we have freedom of religion in this country," she said.
I asked if that meant that she agreed that there is no place for anyone to say that Muslims are not qualified to serve in public office. She said yes. She does not believe in judging people by their religion. She does not condone such bigotry.
So hey, neighbor, Mr. "Outraged at the Lack of Outrage," Mr. "Hiring Muslims shows you're un-American." I regret not coming up to you earlier and saying this to your face. I should have. So should have our Congresswoman. But your bigotry is the outrage. Your bigotry is un-American and un-Constitutional.
And Kristi Noem agrees with me. Thank you, Kristi.
Update 2012.02.05 07:05 MST: Meanwhile, in another glaring example of tone deaf doltishness, Gordon Howie's Tea Party blog lets Brad Ford post another half-plagiarized racist screed lamenting the demise of White privilege. Apparently Brad Ford thought being called offensive and ridiculous was a compliment. And apparently, Ford can't make up his mind whether we white folks are the oppressed or the oppressors. As Troy suggests below, maybe I just need to learn to leave crazy alone.