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Video: Rep. Gerry Connolly on Anti-Muslim Rhetoric — “My god, why not write copy ads for ISIS while we’re at it?”

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The following comments by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) are spot on, which is why it’s so confusing why he voted for the anti-refugee, Orwellian-named, egregiously awful “SAFE” Act the other day. I really don’t get it. Anyway, with that, here are some highlights from what Rep. Connolly said today in the House Foreign Affairs Committee “about the need for America to remain a welcoming nation, live up to our American values, and resist divisive, hateful rhetoric.”

We need to resist simple answers, especially the simple answer of bigotry. It seems to me that if you want to help ISIS recruit, some of the statements that have been attributed to some candidates for national office are the perfect advertisements for that recruitment. Muslims, don’t let any of them in. We’ve got to close all the mosques. This is a clash of culture. My god, why not write copy ads for ISIS while we’re at it? What a recruiting assist those inflammatory and incendary words are, and in my opinion, they do not represent the values of America. 

You know, we had a sad and tragic episode in our history, and it was in response to…Pearl Harbor. And it is almost universally seen in retrospect as one of the most shameful episodes in American history, when our reaction to the sneak attack by the Japanese government on Pearl Harbor was to intern Japanese-Americans in camps because they could not be trusted…We didn’t live up to our values…to our own ideals as a country…the reaction was not something commensurate with the threat and certainly not consistent with our values. 

It’s easy right now to pander…to play to fears. You want to have a pause on refugees, people fleeing the very violence we’re trying to stop? Well why stop there? Let’s have a pause on all immigration, because who knows who might be in their numbers…And while we’re at it student visas, tourists, god only knows how many people could sneak in as touurists… 

We as elected officials have a responsibility, it seems to me, have a responsibility to calm fears…not to exploit those fears…not to demonize any group of human beings, however popular it might be at the moment to do so…It doesn’t serve us well, and that’s not our finest moment, and that’s not as Lincoln said, appealing to the better angels of our nature.