Last week was dubbed the “Week of Rising Hate” by LiberalOasis, with rising anti-Muslim sentiment at home and anti-Semitism abroad.
Though this week, Iran’s voters were not impressed with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial conference and weakened his political standing in their election.
But anti-Muslim attitudes continue to be vented by prominent right-wing Americans.
Now it’s Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), who recently sent out this delightful letter to some of his constituents:

Thank you for your recent communication. When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way.
The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.
We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country.
I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.
The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran.
My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.”
Thank you again for your email and thoughts.

(Apparently, Rep. Goode learned nothing about his state from former Senator George “Macaca” Allen.)
The “Muslim Representative” — who has a name, Keith Ellison — handled this incident pitch perfectly.
After noting that he is not an immigrant, but has American ancestry back to the 18th century, he said:

I’m looking forward to making friends with Representative Goode, or at least getting to know him. I want to let him know that there‚Äôs nothing to fear.
The fact that there are many different faiths, many different colors and many different cultures in America is a great strength.

But as good as Rep.-elect Ellison handled the matter, there’s more to say.
Because this is not just about discrimination at home. It’s about our policy abroad. As LiberalOasis wrote:

…anti-Muslim sentiment … feeds the notion that more violent confrontation is necessary, potentially steering our foreign policy course towards further destabilization.

In turn, the response to Rep. Goode should be:
To win the “ideological war” that President Bush speaks of, we need to win the hearts and minds of the Arab/Muslim world, by strengthening Muslim moderates and marginalizing extremists.
But when our political leaders attack the entire Muslim religion, they strengthen the jihadist movement and weaken America.
Our own intelligence community has reported that “fear of Western domination” in the Arab/Muslim world fuels “the spread of the jihadist movement.”
The reverberations of a single congressman disparaging the leading faith of the Gulf region can feed that dangerous fear and fuel that deadly spread.
We need to lead by example, respect Islam and all faiths held by our representatives, if we are to ever to convince the Arab/Muslim world we believe in democracy and not donimation.