Ryan Chartrand

This past week, the House of Representatives considered a non-binding resolution on President Bush’s escalation of combat troops in Iraq by 20,000. Let us look past the wisdom and effectiveness of passing a non-binding resolution when the president has made no secret of his complete disregard for such a measure, and instead examine the debate that took place in the House last week.

The resolution passed in the House by a vote of 246-182, with 17 Republicans joining all but two Democrats in voting for the resolution. Indeed, that is a sign that idiocy is not a requirement for membership in the House Republican Caucus. However, several Republicans certainly tried their hardest to dispute that claim. Republican Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio led the chorus, claiming that this resolution was the “first step down the slippery slope” toward “micromanagement of the war effort.” Unfortunately for Boehner, it is the job of the House of Representatives to represent the citizens of this country.

The next Republican to bring his nonsensical blather to the House floor was Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode. Goode made news back in December when he attacked newly-elected Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim to be elected to the House. Goode warned the American people that they needed to “wake up,” or there would be “more Muslims elected to office.” Goode continued to exhibit his violently bigoted anti-Muslim rhetoric last week when he claimed that support for the anti-escalation resolution would “aid and assist the Islamic jihadists who want the crescent and star to wave over the Capitol of the United States and over the White House of this country.”

Furthermore, Goode “fear(ed) that radical Muslims who want to control the Middle East and ultimately the world would love to see ‘In God We Trust’ stricken from our money and replaced with ‘In Muhammad We Trust.’”

Not only does Goode exhibit a wildly inaccurate knowledge of Islam (a monotheistic religion that worships Allah, not Muhammad), but flaunts the irrational fear and hatred of Islam that dominates much of the conservative rhetoric in support of the Iraq war.

The pinnacle for unintelligent debate had not yet been reached, however. Rep. Don Young of Alaska took the floor with one goal: to evoke the words of Abraham Lincoln in defending President Bush’s escalation of troops. He opened his speech with a quote he attributed to President Lincoln: “Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged.” This quote is as false as it is outrageous: Young got the quote from an opinion piece from the right-wing Washington Times, whose author quickly issued a retraction that the quote, though commonly attributed to President Lincoln, was in fact never said by him.

Moreover, the calling for the execution of those who speak out against the war by a sitting member of the House on the floor of the House itself is an outrageous act, one that should be acted upon by the House Leadership. Young’s claim is a frightening incursion of the First Amendment, and is the very worst in a slew of Republican rhetoric aimed at killing debate on the war in Iraq. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should initiate a Congressional censure of Young. His flagrant abuse of the right to debate on the floor of the House cannot go without response.

The debate over the escalation resolution in the House last week perfectly illustrates how Republicans are out of touch with the American people. Their continued obstruction on an issue that carries so much popular support, and their distortions and attacks on their opponents, show that their time has come and gone in American politics.

Zach Austin is a political science junior and Mustang Daily political columnist.

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