[UPDATES at the bottom of this post; maybe you should read them first since that's where you'll find the link to critique of David Ramadan's opponent which everyone is so anxious for.]
With the first, regrettable, shot across the bow a few days ago, we can safely say the race for the Republican nomination for the 87th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates has begun. Candidate David Ramadan is accused of being “a Muslim who refuses to renounce Sharia Law and wants a mosque at ground zero.” Few who know David Ramadan, including myself, are under any illusion he is an Islamist, friend of terrorists, Park51 supporter, or enemy of the state.
While acknowledging David Ramadan appears to be an all-around great guy, it is legitimate to ask whether he is ready to be a delegate. The attack from VGOC represents the next shoe dropping in a process Mr. Ramadan himself set in motion. While it’s too early to say whether such charges will leave a mark, there’s reason to believe that in trying to be too cute by half Mr. Ramadan may be left with nothing.
David Ramadan is a local conservative activist who has thrown his hat in the ring for the first time for the 87th District race. He held his campaign kick off event immediately prior to the April 14 Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) meeting.
In response to a small protest held outside the April 14 meeting, Mr. Ramadan circulated a flyer that reveals a troubling case of tone-deafness or worse. Titled “The Facts About David Ramadan,” it casts aspersions on those who speak against the Cordoba House/”Ground Zero Mosque” in New York City or oppose Mr. Ramadan’s position on that issue. The flyer, which was given to about 100 people at the LCRC meeting, can be found by a Google search for “david ramadan facts,” or downloaded from his campaign Web site by clicking here, or click here for my copy. Until last week, it was one of only three items on the Web site. It is written in a bombastic style with innumerable errors, but worst of all it includes deceitful statements that insult the readers’ – and by extension, his potential constituents’ – intelligence. It rubbed some people the wrong way, and I believe it exposed problem areas likely to come to light as the Ramadan campaign is engaged by competitors for the nomination.
Now, discussing the possibility of “dishonesty” in politics is like discussing the potential for “water” in fishing. But here in Loudoun County, where civility is so highly valued, Mr. Ramadan’s flyer raises questions about both his viability as a candidate and fitness for office. I think these questions are best asked now, when Mr. Ramadan has time to consider them and decide whether he can be more straightforward in the future. Most importantly, I think this episode demonstrates that David Ramadan, the candidate, needs to engage in a deeper level of self-reflection than was required of David Ramadan, the political activist.
[For background on some of the concepts referred to here, including the curiosity of an otherwise sensible person talking unadulterated hokum, I'd direct you to the Matrix of Lies post from two weeks ago.]
From what I have seen, David Ramadan is a genuinely nice guy. I think “The Facts” is not necessarily the sign of a scheming person, but merely someone who has yet to be challenged regarding his own public self-definition and falls back on hackneyed ways of thinking the first time out. He still may have a promising political career, but at this moment he may not be ready for prime time – and someone needs to call attention to that fact. If my brother could not swim, I’d warn about the rapids; if he was headed off a cliff I’d put a roadblock in his way.
Question 1: Is “The Facts About David Ramadan” indicative of the level of professionalism you would bring to Richmond?
Mr. Ramadan’s “The Facts” flyer is written in an imperious, accusatory tone. As such, it cries out to be read over again, carefully.
Upon second reading, the document does not reflect well at all on the author. “The Facts” flyer is a string of dishonest statements issued in ham-handed fashion, replete with juvenile errors (including misspelling “Loudoun”) that belie his competent image. As will be detailed in the upcoming questions, it frames his positions so poorly that it could have been produced by one of his opponents or used as a “bad” example in Political Speech 101. It is, at best, the work of a political amateur, but at the same time it seems almost deliberately offensive.
[In quotations from the flyer that follow, I am going to cut and paste verbatim, without use of (sic) throughout, which would be unnecessarily distracting.]
The flyer is organized as a set of “Claims” followed by “Facts.” Point-Counterpoint. The opening portion reads as follows:
Recently, emails and blog postings have started circulating that aim through distortion and innuendo to state that conservative David Ramadan is not an American – and in some way is an enemy to our nation.
As crazy and silly as that sounds – The first statement circulated requires no explanation; it is so contemptible;
- Claim: David Ramadan is a Muslim.
- FACT: When did religion become a disqualifier for public office – even if it were true? The truth is: David was born to a Muslim family in Beirut Lebanon. He attended Christian schools in Beirut, and came to America in 1989. David believes in God – and believes in only one God – the same basic tenant of Jews, Christians and Muslims. David’s wife of nine years is a Methodist.
Astute readers will note the breathtaking fusion of bad faith, bad logic and bad English. This passage represents such a devolution of human reasoning that I hope they do not have Web access in the National Zoo – for if they do, the monkeys will be howling with the knowledge we are moving back in their direction.
What is contemptible here is what the author must think of the readers, and we have to wonder whether Mr. Ramadan even knew what he was thinking when he wrote it. The “Claim” is not contradicted by the “Fact,” and the “Fact,” in fact, is nonsense – a series of non sequiturs. After the third or fourth read of this mishmash, the only possible conclusion we can find is: Mr. Ramadan IS a Muslim.
But see how Mr. Ramadan discloses the fact: “…even if it were true?”
Martin Luther’s “Here I stand” that ain’t. Far be it from me to advise Mr. Ramadan on the clarity of his confession of faith, but from a purely communications perspective I can say that faith expressed in weasel words will neither honor one’s religion nor mollify its critics. Unclear or disingenuous speech can provide fodder for the critics. There’s a time for hiding one’s hand and a time for laying it on the table, but once you lead off with “David Ramadan is a Muslim” you’d best choose one or the other.
A reader could be excused for wondering: Why not leave that entire line of argument out?
The answer, of course, is that Mr. Ramadan is not arguing honestly but has reverted to red herring fallacies. The subject of the April 14 protest was not whether or not Mr. Ramadan is “a Muslim” or “an American.” These were not the issues he confronted, but straw men he’s created, providing a ready cloak of sanctimony in order to throw charges back at his accusers. “How DARE you make an issue of my religion!” We’ll examine the actual issues in the next questions.
He honestly may not realize there are two u’s in “Loudoun” and no “tenants” of the Christian religion. He may not be strong in punctuation and capitalization. In the world of business, where Mr. Ramadan spends most of his time, such errors are probably caught and fixed by assistants. Mr. Ramadan may not understand the distinction between “insure” and “ensure,” as we can see on this snapshot from his current Web site – many people are similarly ignorant of proper definitions – but he must know, for heaven’s sake you can’t just use them interchangeably! To me, this indicates a lack of care – as though becoming a Virginia legislator were a step down for him.
A valid question can be raised whether a politician should ever issue broadsides with terms such as “crazy,” “silly,” and “contemptible” aimed at an ill-defined segment of his or her fellow voters. David Ramadan is an amateur and such missteps can be expected. But to send out such a screed with blatant errors in language, logic and veracity is worse than a rookie mistake. If you can’t write correctly and argue honestly, you don’t GET to call people names – ok? – because it just looks terrible. To paraphrase Richard Hofstadter: An ugly style can point to fundamental defects in taste.
I don’t know the thought process that inspired the VGOC’s attack on Mr. Ramadan linked at the top of this article, but I do know that Mr. Ramadan has not helped his own case by stumbling into the debate bearing a blunderbuss and a duplicitous manner.
Question 2: Do you believe there is any justification for speaking out against Grover Norquist?
The guest speaker for Mr. Ramadan’s April 14 campaign event was Grover Norquist, currently one of the most polarizing figures in the Republican Party. The original notice of the April 14 protest was published at Blue Ridge Forum, a conservative Web site. As you can see via that link, Mr. Norquist’s controversial positions figured heavily in the publicity.
During the LCRC meeting, protesters from the “Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force” handed out copies of a page from the Atlas Shrugs blog, titled CONSERVATIVES MUST SHUN NORQUIST NOT ANN COULTER, with the subhead “Grover Norquist: Conservative Exposed as Terrorist Sympathizer/Enabler.” This was their only handout.
Two days prior to Mr. Ramadan’s kick off event, Mr. Norquist was the focus of another controversy at an event in Lynchburg, VA.
Last Wednesday, the Tea Party Tribune published an extensive look at Mr. Norquist titled BOYCOTT ANY RECEPTION FOR GROVER NORQUIST.
And just this week, Mr. Norquist is again a major topic of discussion as the guest speaker at an Arizona conference. (Watch the videos in that post for more background.)
The controversy goes back many years. In November, 2001, The New Republic published an article titled GROVER NORQUIST’S STRANGE ALLIANCE WITH RADICAL ISLAM.
Mr. Norquist’s lighting rod status is especially salient here in the Washington D.C. area because of his role at the center of two major controversies at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February, 2011. Click that link for the February 12 Potomac Tea Party report.
Click here for the Blue Ridge Forum report on CPAC, and for another perspective from the right click here for Debbie Schlussel’s report.
Those who follow Northern Virginia politics may well recall the 2007 controversies swirling around Faisal Gill. For much more on the Faisal Gill affair, click here. Gill was purportedly tied to convicted terrorist financier Abdurahman Alamoudi, who at one point was alleged to be an associate of Grover Norquist.
To learn more than you could ever need to know about Mr. Norquist’s controversial affiliations, do a Web search for “grover norquist sharia.” See you in ten years.
Regardless of whether one believes political Islam represents a threat to the United States or whether Grover Norquist is too friendly with Islamists, it is indisputable that many people have problems with Mr. Norquist these days. That there would be a small protest outside Mr. Ramadan’s April 14 campaign event should have surprised no one – especially Mr. Ramadan. Without Grover Norquist as the headliner, it seems likely that David Ramadan’s campaign kick off would not have registered as a blip on anyone’s radar outside his circle of supporters and the LCRC.
We can question the wisdom of having such a controversial figure as the main speaker for one’s very first career campaign event, but Mr. Ramadan is a rookie, and presumably Mr. Norquist is his friend. But this is a textbook example of how a tactical mistake can morph into a strategic blunder, particularly when it is so egregiously misplayed.
I believe Mr. Ramadan should not have gone on the offensive. There were solid grounds for raising objections to the choice of speaker for his event, having nothing to do with Mr. Ramadan’s religion or whether he is a registered, patriotic citizen. Trying to turn the focus to his Muslim faith and American citizenship (and executing that chicanery with such clumsiness!) gives reason to ask what this controversy and Mr. Ramadan’s response tell us about his potential fitness for public office.
With the very first question of judgment in this young campaign David Ramadan has come up wanting. He appears poised to lead future discussions in the direction of lies and distortions which, in my view, have become too common in political speech and need to be excised rather than facilitated.
Question 3: Do you believe there is any justification for speaking out against the Park51 “Cordoba House”?
The Park51 Community Center, described in Mr. Ramadan’s flyer as the “Mosque to be built on ground zero in New York City,” has been the subject of immense controversy. You can learn all about it by clicking that Wikipedia link or by doing Web searches for “Cordoba House” and “Ground Zero Mosque.”
As Mr. Ramadan states in his flyer:
David Ramadan is not a proponent and has never advocated the building of the Mosque in New York. David Ramadan signed a letter along with several other well known GOP activist’s in the United States urging restraint with rhetoric that was being used in some circles to describe the building of the Mosque – in fear that such rhetoric would severely hamper the GOP’s ability to attract Muslim American voters, voters of Middle Eastern dissent and other ethnic and religious minority voters. The letter also expresses concern that some are advocating a position in direct contradiction to the United States Constitution – that freedom of Religion shall not be infringed.
Mr. Ramadan was one of six signers of an August, 2010, open letter to Republican leaders:
While some in our party have recently conceded the constitutional argument, they are now arguing that it is insensitive, intolerant and unacceptable to locate the center at the present location: “Just because they have the right to do so – does not make it the right thing to do” they say. Many of these individuals are objecting to the location as being too close to the Ground Zero site and voicing the understandable pain and anguish of the 9-11 families who lost loved ones in this horrible tragedy. In expressing compassion and understanding for these families, we are asking ourselves the following: if two blocks is too close, is four blocks acceptable? or six blocks? or eight blocks? Does our party believe that one can only practice his/her religion in certain places within defined boundaries and away from the disapproving glances of some citizens?
….. While we share the desire of all in our party to be successful in the November elections, we cannot support victory at the expense of the U.S. Constitution or the Arab and Muslim community in America. As President Lincoln so eloquently stated in his famous speech: “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”
I encourage everyone to read the selection from Mr. Ramadan’s flyer, and the quoted portion of the open letter, and think carefully about just what is being said. Some of the participants in the April 14 protest here and some of the most vigorous opponents of Park51 are representatives from “September 11 families” organizations. Consider the quoted selections from the standpoint of someone who lost a loved one on September 11, 2001. In doing so, you may come to think of the following points:
- Mr. Ramadan warns opponents of Park51 that “such rhetoric would severely hamper the GOP’s ability to attract Muslim American voters, voters of Middle Eastern dissent and other ethnic and religious minority voters.” In other words, all of these diverse voting populations supposedly will perceive opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque as ethnic or religious discrimination. In other words: “How DARE you attack these minorities and their religious beliefs.”
- The letter sneeringly asks, “if two blocks is too close, is four blocks acceptable? or six blocks? or eight blocks?” – framing opposition to Park51 as the trifling preoccupation of silly people.
- And the letter warns, “we cannot support victory ….. a house divided against itself cannot stand.” In other words: Quit objecting to Park51, or we will withdraw our electoral support en masse.
These statements sound an awful lot like trying to drive an ethnic and religious wedge where one does not currently exist, ridiculing those who were harmed on September 11, and laying down political threats. Is it rhetorically sound for Mr. Ramadan to take such positions? Of course it is. Is it morally appropriate for him to do so? Many would say it is not.
Grover Norquist chimed in to say:
Every member of a minority group looks at a situation like this and says, oh, the people hitting this minority will eventually start hitting me.
Left wing media covered the Republican intra-party dispute:
“We’ve been working hard, some Muslim Americans, some non-Muslims, to keep the Muslim American community and other minorities on the party side, to keep relationships going,” says David Ramadan, a Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. “All of that is threatened to be thrown down the drain.”
“Most of [that work] is at risk, if not all,” Ramadan told TPM. “How can I, an operative of the Republican party of Virginia that goes out and holds events for candidates, how can I go out to the Muslims of Loudoun County… how can I go out today in good faith and say I’d like to invite you to a Republican event, or to a candidate event on a Republican event who shares your values? Who’s going to give me a dollar today? Who’s going to give me a dollar when Republicans are comparing Muslims in general to Nazis?… Excuse me! My mother is not a Nazi!”
Against those who lost someone on 9/11 and would perceive Park51 as spiking the football, as it were, Mr. Ramadan dons an XXXL-sized coat of sanctimony, adding yet another red herring to his argument. Opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque is now the silly preoccupation of the religiously and ethnically intolerant who call his mother a Nazi. This mirrors the dishonest, debate-stifling tactics of the left: “Shut up!” Mr. Ramadan explains.
Since Mr. Ramadan calls attention to the “other well known GOP activist’s” who signed the August, 2010, letter, it is worthwhile to take a brief look at some of them. You should review this Big Peace article about those for whom
it is more important to leave the Islamic center where it is planned than it is to help Republicans win control of Congress and defeat the Obama agenda this fall.
Of note, Randa Fahmy Hudome (whose Web site recently has been scrubbed of the information) was a lobbyist for the government of Libya’s Colonel Muammar Qaddafi in the middle of the last decade. Suhail Khan, who is well regarded by the leftist media, worked both with Abdurahman Alamoudi, the convicted terrorist financier mentioned above in connection with the Faisal Gill affair, and with convicted terrorist financier Sami Al-Arian. (The book Shariah: The Threat To America discusses Grover Norquist and Mr. Khan.) Samah Norquist is the wife of Grover Norquist, whose Americans for Tax Reform distributed the letter.
As indicated in the Big Peace article, Mr. Ramadan is the only signer of the letter who is not in some sense a controversial figure. This fact should not be construed as a reflection on Mr. Ramadan’s beliefs or activities nor his freedom to sign the letter, but it does temper the moral force of his argument in “The Facts About David Ramadan.”
The letter evoked criticism from Muslim organizations, who
dealt a body blow to the argument of GOP activists David Ramadan, Sherine El-Abd, Randa Fahmy Hudome, George Salem, Suhail Khan, Samah A. Norquist, who signed the letter, and her husband Grover, whose Americans for Tax Reform organization distributed it.
For example, Akbar Ahmed, Professor of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, says he sympathizes with those who object to the mosque’s planned proximity to Ground Zero. “For most Americans, 9/11 remains as an open wound, and anything associated with Islam, even for Americans who want to understand Islam – to have an Islamic center with so much publicity is like rubbing salt in open wounds,” Ahmed told AP.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy said the discussion of the “Cordoba House” is not about religious freedom:
It is about the importance of the World Trade Center site to the psyche of the American People. It is about a blatant attack on our sovereignty by people whose ideology ultimately demands the elimination of our way of life. While Imam Faisal Rauf may not share their violent tendencies he does seem to share a belief that Islamic structures are a political statement and even Ground Zero should be looked upon through the lens of political Islam and not a solely American one.
Question 4: Do you believe there is any justification for speaking out against Sharia?
No one who knows David Ramadan could believe he supports application of the more extreme elements of Sharia (Islamic law) in the judicial or legislative processes here. As he states clearly in the flyer, “David believes in the US Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land” – which is good, since most people would consider that a prerequisite for office.
The “Anti-Shariah” group that staged the April 14 protest provoked nearly universal outrage from Loudoun County politicos and bloggers. It was heartwarming to see the circle of protection that closed around Mr. Ramadan – Democrats, Republicans, and if I’m not mistaken there were angels playing trumpets in the sky. While we are all congratulating ourselves for our open-mindedness and multicultural sensitivity, however, let’s not lose sight of the fact that concern about the intrusion of Islamic law into public policy in America – which some view as a tip of the spear of anti-American jihadism – is not solely the province of crazy people.
Everyone who has not already done so should familiarize themselves with the Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America. (The full document can be downloaded by clicking here.) The document came to light during the 2008 trial in Texas of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). HLF was found guilty of funneling money to Hamas and the Explanatory Memorandum was stipulated to – uncontested – by the HLF defense attorneys.
In it, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) explains to the MB in America (the strategy was developed in the late 1980s and the Memorandum written in 1991) their strategy for the United States:
The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack. But, would the slackers and the Mujahedeen be equal ….
In brief we say: we would like for the Islamic center to become “The House of Dawa”‘ and “the general center” in deeds first before name. As much as we own and direct these centers at the continent level, we can say we are marching successfully towards the settlement of Dawa’ in this country.
Meaning that the “center’s” role should be the same as the “mosque’s” role during the time of God’s prophet, God’s prayers and peace be upon him, when he marched to “settle” the Dawa’ in its first generation in Madina. from the mosque, he drew the Islamic life and provided to the world the most magnificent and fabulous civilization humanity knew.
This mandates that, eventually, the region, the branch and the Usra turn into “operations rooms” for planning, direction, monitoring and leadership for the Islamic center in order to be a role model to be followed …
And in order for the process of settlement to be completed, we must plan and work from now to equip and prepare ourselves, our brothers, our apparatuses, our sections and our committees in order to turn into comprehensive organizations in a gradual and balanced way that is suitable with the need and the reality. What encourages us to do that – in addition to the aforementioned – is that we possess “seeds” for each organization from the organization we call for …
The big challenge that is ahead of us is how to turn these seeds or “scattered” elements into comprehensive, stable, “settled” organizations that are connected with our Movement and which fly in our orbit and take orders from our guidance. This does not prevent – but calls for – each central organization to have its local branches but its connection with the Islamic center in the city is a must …
Also note page 18, “A list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends,” and do a Web search on some of those groups. More info here.
A news scan from the past year suggests the possibility that this is not all fear-mongering:
May 4, 2011: Hezbollah base established near San Diego
May 3, 2011: Honor killing in Michigan
December 14, 2010: Santa’s appearances canceled at Head Start programs
October 27, 2010: Ashburn man held in terror plot against Metro
October 26, 2010: Hawaii man charged with plan to fight with Iraqi insurgents
More background from all sides:
As you will see from just a few of those resources, even the most benign interpretations of Sharia and the purported jihadist threat to America suggest there could be a problem, objectively speaking. Of all the types of issues Americans form organizations to address, it is not entirely beyond the realm of reasonable behavior that “Anti-Sharia” might be among them.
In my view, it is not surprising that such a group might take an interest in David Ramadan’s event. Based on Mr. Ramadan’s public statements, his guest speaker, and his untruthful, in-your-face response to that protest, it would not be surprising if that interest should persist – perhaps rightfully so. Those who stride into the room brandishing timeworn, fallacious leftist tactics need to be opposed. And the last thing we need is another politician who sees the world through an ethnic or religious prism.
From a strictly political standpoint, the smart tactic would have been to ignore the protest and see if the issue died away. If, as a proud American, faithful Muslim and political neophyte, Mr. Ramadan felt compelled to respond, he should have done so in a forthright and professional manner.
I believe Mr. Ramadan ought to find his own voice and become comfortable enough in his skin to speak honestly on any and all matters of public discussion – even those he views as insulting. If he self-corrects, a straight-talking David Ramadan could be a formidable candidate and effective elected official.
There is a glimmer of truth in Mr. Ramadan’s flyer, as it concludes with the statement “It is time to reject these kinds of hateful and false political attacks.”
On behalf of Virginia’s voters, I say: “Hear, hear.”
UPDATES: Since I published this post five days ago, there has been criticism – to say the least – from folks in the local Republican party. Near-universal condemnation perhaps would be a more apt description. I am writing this and also calling your attention to the updates below in order to address some of the concerns. Instead of writing a new post and piling further on Mr. Ramadan, I will tuck this down here in the updates where it should have zero Google impact and adds even more length to an already absurdly long blog post, certainly not aiding its readability. The main issues that have everyone’s girdles in a bind are: 1) why I am not criticizing David Ramadan’s opponent, 2) why I am so unfair, and 3) why I did not instead talk to David.
1) Why no criticism of the opponent? Please note that the second Update below, which I posted within several hours of publishing this piece, links to the BVBL post which is extremely critical of Jo-Ann Chase and in fact makes her sound like a complete nut case. I posted this; BVBL posted his; I linked to him almost immediately – even though BVBL is being paid by David Ramadan so in some quarters might not be considered the best character witness regarding Jo-Ann Chase. In some quarters he might not be considered a credible “source” at all, but I did link to him to allow the opposing viewpoint. Other than that, there is little else I can do until Jo-Ann has a Web site or puts out some types of campaign messages or literature, unless people want me to write a critique of Jo-Ann based on their stories about Jo-Ann.
2) Why write such an unfair blog post? I.e. why rake David Ramadan over the coals because of “a few punctuation mistakes on a hastily-produced flyer,” and why for god’s sake include a gratuitous “20 links to the Muslim Brotherhood?” David Ramadan gave out his flyer at the April 14 LCRC meeting, then he went home and had it posted on his campaign Web site as the middle item of only three items on the front page, linked from a text box that read “The Facts About David Ramadan” – the placement and wording of which made it by far the most likely item to be clicked on – and he then left it up there for three solid weeks. David Ramadan did not treat his flyer as a one-time, throwaway piece of literature. In the blog post above, I do point out some spelling errors, but mainly I critique the duplicitous formulations David uses and the strong language which indicate, to me, a peek at the author’s unvarnished self. The many links in this blog post are provided to explain why the people David calls crazy and silly and invents straw men to dispute might have concerns about his affiliation with Grover Norquist and his co-signing of the Ground Zero Mosque letter – concerns David could have treated as serious.
3) Why didn’t I just talk to David instead of posting this all on the Internet? I went to the April 14 event not intending to take the protesters seriously and in fact I took this photo which was from a distance, and left uncropped, to make the protest seem insignificant. That was my bias that evening. Then David Ramadan gave out his “The Facts About David Ramadan” flyer at the LCRC meeting, and I read it, and I thought, “This guy is some sort of son of a gun, isn’t he?” And then I went home and searched the Web that night and looked up the Ground Zero Mosque letter David co-signed, and I thought, “Wow, this guy is a REAL son of a gun!” Except I did not use the term “son of a gun,” but a shorter one. Then I found all of David’s digital trail throughout the Web, including at the New York Times, Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post, and elsewhere, up there for all to read forever and ever: snickering at those opposing the Cordoba House, saying they are calling his mother a Nazi … and then I found the dishonest flyer posted on his campaign Web site a couple days later. And I thought, “I don’t think this son of a gun is the kind of person I want in the Virginia state house.”
I gradually tempered my feelings and ended up writing this blog post in a way that was much less strident than originally planned. But let me be clear: I do, fully, understand why David and everyone working for his campaign wishes I would have talked to David instead of writing this piece and posting it on the blog. Making up lies about the people who protest Grover Norquist or oppose the Cordoba House is definitely something one would rather talk about than have posted on a blog.
I guess I just figured: Hey, David’s “if two blocks is too close, is four blocks acceptable?” is out there for eternity. His “my mother is not a Nazi” is out there. Unless there was a way we could talk about all that to somehow reverse it and make it go away, I thought my arguments should be out on the Internet also, as a counterbalance. Posting this article as it is written was completely non-negotiable and I had absolutely zero interest in anything David or his campaign staff might have to say to try and downplay it or otherwise argue that the sky is purple. Based on conversations I have had since this post went up, I am doubly confirmed of the rightness of the decision, because whining that I’ve “exaggerated punctuation errors” or linked unfairly to derogatory material tells me this is a campaign in denial that does not address criticism squarely. I also get the sense that basically everyone is afraid to even acknowledge criticism of this candidate. Some may see nothing to criticize; some may have received money; some may not be able to get their heads around the sheer political incorrectness of saying anything negative about David Ramadan. Well, my criticism is published here, and I stand behind all of it. That was my starting point – my precondition if you will – and now I am perfectly willing to talk to David when and if he wants to do so.
The updates below were added over the two days following the original blog post.
UPDATE I: LI’s comment just reminded me, he did a post last week on what he labeled Mr. Ramadan’s “overcompensation” with the public prayer after bin Laden’s death was announced. I think this ties into my idea above about Mr. Ramadan needing to be secure in his own skin, not feel like he has to work on his “image” but instead just be who he is (life is a lot less effort that way). During his April 14 speech, there was a part where he talked about getting married (the speech is posted here, and the part is a little past halfway, near the photo). During the live version of the speech, he varied from the posted version and added that his wife is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed “Southern Bell.” It was an odd thing to say (maybe that is why it is not included in the Web version) and my first thought was “Does David think we have a problem with his being from Lebanon?” – as if there was an ethnic issue to be overcome, as though it was 1971 instead of 2011. I think maybe the guy just needs to relax.
UPDATE II: Valuable and entertaining comment from Blog Fu, as usual.
UPDATE III: Cmac just pointed out that I have not given David an opening to answer these questions. Good point. The last sentence which I missed pasting in was as follows.
[Although I am not suggesting he needs to do so, if Mr. Ramadan wishes to respond publicly in any way, I will publish his response here in total, without modification or critique.]
I was told last night that Mr. Ramadan wants to talk to me, and I will gladly talk to him when the time is right for him.