If Republicans Want to Take a Stand Against Anti-Muslim Bigotry, They Should Vote for Dave Belote


    Dave Belote is the Democratic nominee for Virginia State Senate in the 8th District against Republican nominee Bill DeSteph. This is a tough, “red” district in Virginia Beach, one  in which Ed Gillespie beat Mark Warner 53%-44%, Ken Cuccinelli defeated out Terry McAuliffe 49%-44%, and George Allen edged out Tim Kaine by a 52%-48% margin.

    So, given this district’s Republican lean, why am I spending time highlighting this new ad by Dave Belote? Because this is a district where Republicans can, if they so choose (and as at least one prominent Virginia Republican argues this morning), demonstrate that their party is not composed only of anti-Muslim bigots — as you’d think by looking at the support for people like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, comments by many Republicans and conservatives on TV/radio/the internet, etc. – by crossing party lines to vote for Belote over raging Islamophobe DeSteph.  Here’s a reminder of what DeSteph is all about.

    A few weeks before last month’s vote on the city’s first mosque, Councilman Bill DeSteph received a 25-page PowerPoint presentation.

    It came from the leader of the local chapter of ACT for America, a group concerned about radical Islamists in the United States, and alleged the proposed mosque had ties to Muslim extremists.

    DeSteph, the only council member to vote against the mosque on Sept. 24, later said he had information that the facility was a threat to national security, but he declined to give details. He said he passed the information to the federal government.

    That PowerPoint, other correspondence obtained by The Virginian-Pilot through the Freedom of Information Act and interviews show that DeSteph used information from the local ACT leader to help make his decision on the mosque, and that ACT hoped he would be a political voice in Richmond for its agenda. DeSteph, a former naval intelligence officer, is running as a Republican for the 82nd District seat in the House of Delegates.

    Bad enough, but wait…there’s more! Check out what DeSteph wrote about Islam and “Ground Zero” back in 2010.

    *”Muslems build mosques to represent Islamic supremacy over their enemy.” (note: in addition to being an ignorant bigot, he can’t spell either; it should be “Muslims” not “Muslems”)

    *”I am against building a mosque at ground zero out of respect to my country, and the men and women and their loved ones who died on that day.”

    Blah blah blah.

    Of course, DeSteph ignores the fact that his own religion, Christianity, and many others have a history of conquering other peoples, building churches or synagogues or whatever on top of previous houses of worship by other religions, etc. For instance, when I was in South America several years ago, I saw numerous instances of churches built on top of destroyed (by the Spanish Conquistadors in many cases) indigenous – Incan, etc. – houses of worship. This is also very common in Spain, where churches are often former mosques, where former synagogues are sometimes owned by the Spanish Catholic Church, etc. The point here isn’t to criticize any specific religion or group of people, of course, simply to point out that pretty much EVERY group of people and pretty much EVERY religion has waged wars, has conquered others, has built its houses of worship on top of those it conquered, etc. So why does DeSteph single out Islam as uniquely bad in this regard? Obvious: because he’s ignorant about and prejudiced against Muslims and Islam.

    Anyway, this is a chance for independents and non-bigoted Republicans in Virginia Beach to show that they do NOT approve of DeSteph’s intolerance. Fortunately, they have an excellent alternative: Dave Belote is a “businessman…decorated former fighter pilot” and even “a five-time Jeopardy! winner.” His top priorities are “to help hard-working families get back on their feet; to create conditions that allow local businesses to thrive; …to ensure that every child in Virginia Beach – and across our Commonwealth – has access to a great education” and “to promote clean, renewable energy – the kind of projects that can grow the economy while protecting our environment.” In stark contrast, DeSteph will bring his intolerance and ignorance to a State Senate which could use the exact opposite.