Rasoul, Allen & Palestine

Brent Finnegan -- June 30th, 2008

Last week, an article appeared in the Star City Harbinger in which Janice Lee Allen, an Independent candidate from Harrisonburg running for U.S. Congress, questioned where Democratic nominee Sam Rasoul’s loyalties lie.

In the Harbinger, Allen asked,

“…will Sam represent District 6 or the Arab world? This is the question that has been posed to me as I walk about meeting people in this District […] There are those who have said to me, openly, since, that it is unfortunate that Sam was selected to represent the District Democratic Party.”

Some of Allen’s criticism of Rasoul stems from a statement made by the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine about Rasoul’s speech at their recent 2007 convention in Houston, Texas. In a PDF about the convention, the AFRP document said, “[Rasoul’s] main goals include campaign finance reform and bringing to light the America’s huge monetary support of Israel.”

Friday, Rasoul wrote to me in an email:

…those were not my comments in regards to “America’s huge monetary support of Israel.” I have since contacted that organization and request that they amend their literature to reflect what I spoke about. Those are not my words or my thoughts at all.

The American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine removed the PDF in question over this past weekend.

Allen, formerly known as Janice Lee Boyd, was mulling a run for the Democratic nomination last year. I emailed, but have not yet received a response from her regarding her comments in the Harbinger.

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38 Responses to “Rasoul, Allen & Palestine”

  1. Bubby says:

    Will Janice Lee Allen represent the 6th Congressional District, or the Spacey-Lady World? We really need to know!

  2. Barnabas says:

    She sounds racist to me.

  3. blondiesez says:

    Sounds like a big leap — why would drawing attention to the amount of support the US gives Israel necessarly be pro-Arab? It’s almost as bad as inferring that if you weren’t born in the legislative area that you’re not qualified to represent the area.

  4. JGFitzgerald says:

    This particular canard was spread by the neo-Pub blogger NLS, which presumably stands for Not a Lick of Sense. Ironically (’cause most of the better words I wouldn’t post) the heading was something about Sam’s own words, even though it was, first, a paraphrase and, second, something he probably didn’t say.

  5. Shawn Vincent says:

    Since when is calling a man by his legal name racist? Is calling Robert Goodlatte Bob a racist statement also?

  6. Brooke says:

    Shawn, I think you have that backwards. Robert Goodlatte goes by “Bob” and so everyone calls him that. All his constituents, his opponents, they all refer to him as “Bob Godlatte” because that is the name he goes by. Rarely do you see anyone refer to him as “Robert Goodlatte” let alone his full legal name “Robert William Goodlatte.” Why? Because it’s not what he goes by, not what he’s known as, and well, there’s just no reason to do so.

    When you refer to all candidates by the name they go by, whether it be a shortened version of their name, or a nickname, as opposed to their legal given name – “Bob” Goodlatte, “Jim” Webb, “Tim” Kaine – it becomes a rather obvious dig to suddenly do an about face and insist upon using the legal name of another candidate. People are doing it to Sam, and people also do it to Obama. Notice, you almost *never* see someone refer to a political candidate by their entire legal name, including middle name, unless they actually go by their whole name. And yet, you have people making a point of using Obama’s middle name.

    And the reason for both practices is blatantly obvious. The only reason these two candidates get singled out and their legal and/or full names used, when it’s not done with other candidates, is because people are trying to capitalize upon xenophobia. They have Muslim or Muslim sounding names, and so people see their opportunity to stir up anti-Muslim fear in hopes of keeping people from voting for that candidate.

    It’s fear mongering, it’s bigoted, and it’s disgusting. And anyone who resorts to it should be ashamed of themselves.

  7. eso says:

    So I guess Sam is a Muslim? His web site doesn’t exactly say it, but talks about his Muslim parents from “Palestinian territories”.

  8. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    The impression I get is that Rasoul is a Muslim in the same sense that John Kerry is a Catholic or George H.W. Bush an Episcopalian – which is to say by birth and culturally, but not terribly observantly. There is a swathe of people whose
    religion defines them, but there are also many folks for whom religion makes up only a part, sometimes a very small part, of their identity.

  9. finnegan says:

    It seems like Goodlatte’s religious beliefs are seldom mentioned in these discussions. He’s a Christian Scientist (also a religious minority in the 6th district).

  10. Renee says:

    Let me preface this by saying I haven’t been following these political races very closely, and I know almost nothing about Sam Rasoul.

    Let me say also that the names politicians choose to identify themselves is extremely important, like Hillary Clinton choosing to put only ‘Hillary’ on her campaign posters – I’d assume to both 1) be on a first-name basis with the people, 2) remind people that you already know her last name and she’s no stranger, and 3) separate herself from her husband so it doesn’t seem like she’s running off of her name. Also, it seems almost protocol for politicians to call one another by the names they’ve chosen to run with. Admittedly, manipulation of a name can be done in both positive and negative ways by a politician or his/her opponents.

    But what I was really going to say in this comment is…

    My sister is dating a Palestinian Muslim that is 1) totally Americanized, 2) a totally NICE guy, and 3) a doctor. They have been seriously dating for about a year and a half, and everyone that has met the guy just loves him.

    However, she still gets rude comments from my parents about where his loyalties lie, and whether if they get married, he is going to whisk her off to the middle east and force her to wear a berka, and whether she knows what she’s doing (though my parents are both divorced and having trouble in their 2nd marriages, so I’m not sure how they consider themselves to be experts on finding a good spouse).

    Individuals like my parents are the kind of people that get scared when a politician has a middle-eastern-sounding middle name, regardless of being born and raised in America, and having done great services for our country. They are the same types of people still sending out ‘scare tactic’ emails stating that Obama has radical-Muslim ties, even though they have been fully debunked by reputable news and investigative sources.

    Can’t you thoroughly check out the person running for office (no matter what their name is) before passing judgment on them? And if there is an excerpt or sound bite, check out the full context and the validity of the source before making a decision on whether they agree with the candidate’s statements or not?

  11. Renee says:

    Also, I wanted to say I think Brooke gave an excellent argument about how names are used/misused in politics and I agree with her.

  12. Brooke says:

    Finnegan,

    Sadly, that actually did come up in a letter to the editor in the DNR. A supporter of Janice’s wrote in that we should be wary of Goodlatte because he’s a Christian Scientist, and therefore cannot be trusted to vote on healthcare measures, and that they didn’t known much about Sam, “other than he is 26 years old and a practicing Muslim.” (which I suppose is all they need to know, right?), and so we should vote for Janice. I supposed, the subtext being because she’s a “real” Christian? They also mentioned that she was the only candidate born in the Valley.

    The sad thing is, I actually agree with many of Janice’s stances on the issues, but all I seem to her from her and/or her supporters seems to be focusing on who is a real Christian, and who was born in the Valley, who has a Muslim sounding name, and that really turns me off to her as a candidate because it seems petty.

    I don’t vote for people based on where they were born or how/who they worship, and I think putting the focus on these things really makes me question her validity as a candidate. It’s not a very strong platform.

  13. Brooke says:

    Renee – thanks!

    I agree with everything you said, as well.

    Sadly, the candidates know that there are a good number of people who get something in their e-mail or read something online and don’t bother to check it’s veracity or consider the source before passing it on to the next person, who also then takes it as gospel.

    Prime example – I just read something someone I know forwarded to me and a bunch of other people. It took me maybe 5 seconds of internet legwork to discover the e-mail had been circulating for about 2 years, despite it’s urgent tone requiring immediate action, and furthermore the e-mail only told a partial truth about the matter. And yet, the person who sent it to me was all up in arms about how we all need to act TODAY to take action on the matter. She swallowed it whole, and forwarded it on to everyone else she knew, because she was convinced it was true. Why? Because she read it in an e-mail and it jived with her own personal fears and views on the matter.

    People today *don’t* research enough, and they often *do* make snap decisions based up on what they’ve heard and read about someone, or on 20 second sound-bytes, or somene’s “take” on something they said. Even more unfortunately politicians on both sides exploit this tendency as well as people’s fears in order to sway voters.

    My rule of thumb is verify, verify, verify. If it comes across my screen I do a little digging and try to figure out what’s true, what’s false, what’s spin, and the credibility of the source, and even more importantly, does whatever it is even really matter?

  14. Shawn Vincent says:

    Brooke, you are trying to confuse the issue. Sam or Salam,why are you trying to hide the fact that he is Muslm? It is hardly racist when you call sam, or Salam. I am not being racist either when I ask,what is your nationality?I am sure the spin meistes will really have fun with this one.

  15. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    Why are you trying to EXPOSE the fact that he was born into (and named by) a Muslim family , without establishing it has any bearing on how he would vote? If your question is IF and HOW it relates, ask that. In fact, Mr. Rasoul has answered those questions on Republitarian.

    Here’s what he said, in part:
    “Our government is a secular government that is the way it should be governed with equal freedoms to all law abiding citizens. I do not believe in any type of “Sharia Law” and I believe people should focus on being good people.

    I would be anxious to be the first to condemn any type of terrorism by anyone, be it Atta or McVey. By no means should anyone ever condone any form of violence against civilians.”

  16. Brooke says:

    I’m not trying to hide or confuse anything, Vincent. I wasn’t aware it was a secret, or even a legitimate issue.

    I simply pointed out that the ONLY candidates anyone seems intent on using the full legal name of are those with Muslim sounding names. Jeremy’s right, why are some of you so intent on shining a spotlight on Rasoul’s faith? I think that says far more about you and your ilk than it says about Mr. Rasoul.

    Not sure if your last question was rhetorical or not, but I don’t mind answering. My nationality is American (same as Mr. Rasoul). I was born here, (as was Mr. Rasoul).

    If you’re asking about my *ethnicity* (which is not the same as nationality) I’m about as caucasian and Christian as they come. My ancestry is a mixture of English, Scottish, Irish, French German, with a dash of Swedish and Dutch thrown in for good measure. My family, on my mother’s side has been in Virginia since Jamestown, and not only do I come from a Christian family, but I myself have been a committed Christian since I was 9 years old.

    Chao is my married name. My husband is Chinese, and yes, he was also born in this country of a family that has been Christian for at least 3 generations.

    Any other questions you’d like to ask me, Vincent?

  17. Brooke says:

    (sorry, I didn’t mean to call you Vincent, Shawn – there I *was* confused. LOL)

  18. JGFitzgerald says:

    Shawn,

    Sam’s Muslim. (Get over it.) And Obama fathered two black children. Stay tuned to Fox news for more.

    Joseph Hussein Fitzgerald

  19. eso says:

    Beliefs are fair play when judging a candidate. Especially one who espouses family values and character. I think it is appropriate to ask pointed questions about health care to a Christian Scientist or about reproductive rights to a Catholic.

    Would you really vote for a candidate who’s platform and promises matched yours but, say, was a member of a religion that condoned marriage of extremely young girls and girls even younger than 10?

  20. Renee says:

    @eso: Of course beliefs are fair play, but in order to find out what a person believes, we have to talk to them about their faith and what they think and how they plan to vote on certain issues.

    We can’t assume to know what a person thinks by knowing their name, and some candidates are relying on the prejudices people have against some foreign names to sway those people’s opinions against the candidate, instead of focusing on the issues and the candidate’s actual beliefs as stated by the candidate.

  21. Brooke says:

    Exactly, Renee! People are judging Sam without even really knowing about them. Instead of asking respectful and thoughtful questions about him, they are assuming the worst, based on nothing but his name. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions. I think most times, as long as it’s done in a respectful manner, and it’s something that’s relevant to the discussion at hand, people really don’t mind answering.

    The key is when approaching someone to ask about their life, background and faith, do it respectfully. Don’t do it in an accusatory manner, or jump to conclusions. Simply talk to them, try to get to know them, drop them an e-mail, write a letter or give them a call.

    I tell you I was NOT impressed with Myron’s interrogation of Mr. Rasoul. It came across less as him wanting to find out what Sam believed and didn’t believe and more as a public grilling. Especially when you throw in his “rag head” and the nasty comments about Sam believing his wife was more than a few goats. And Janice’s assumption that Sam would represent Arab interests over the interests of his entire constituency was wrong and based on assumptions rather than fact.

    The only reason to not vote for someone based on their faith is fear – fear that they will seek to impose their religious beliefs upon the general public in the form of legislating those beliefs.

    As long as we keep the separation between church and state intact, we need not fear a president who is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or Zoroastrian. And we most certainly should NOT be descriminating against candidates because of certain assumptions we make about what they do and do not believe and especially not on ignorant assumptions about what we believe they will put into law.

    Thus far the only religion I’ve seen trying to put it’s religious beliefs into practice and law in this country are my fellow Christians. Perhaps, if we are afraid of people doing that TO us, we should stop doing it TO others. Funny how it comes back to “Do unto others…”

  22. eso says:

    No Brooke, fear is not the only reason vote against someone based on religious beliefs. Not all religious beliefs are good and valid. Some are vile, and need to be discouraged and to be mocked.

    I was rather impressed with Sam after reading his interview. He seems like an interesting guy. I’m not sure most Muslims would claim him, but that’s a separate issue.

  23. JGFitzgerald says:

    If you vote against someone because he is a Muslim, and that is the only reason you vote against him, then you are a bigot and, by extension, ignorant. Too ignorant, indeed, to distinguish among Morrocans, Indonesians, Uzbekistanis and people from Detroit. It is not necessarily hatred or fear of these 1.5 billion people. You simply can’t tell them apart. I have the same problem with bigots.

  24. Brooke says:

    You miss the point entirely. If we keep a separation of church and state, you need not fear anyone’s religious beliefs becoming law. It’s only if the zealots (and so far the only one’s I see attempting that are Christian zealots) who seek to tear down that wall are successful that that will happen.

    And no, it is never ok to mock religious beliefs. You can disagree with them, even strongly, without resorting to nasty, ugly behavior.

    I think you also need to be able to distinguish between someone who holds religious beliefs, and someone who is an extremist. Voting against someone because they’re Muslim makes about as much sense as voting against a Baptist because of Fred Phelps. You cannot make the assumption that anyone who adheres to a certain faith is an extremist.

    So, yes, in fact, if you are voting against someone solely for what faith they adhere to, and not based on HOW they conduct themselves as a person, what their views are on the separation of church and state (meaning do they believe they have the ability or right to impose their faith on others) and most importantly, what their stances are on the issues, then you are in fact basing your vote on fear, not to mention willful ignorance.

  25. David Miller says:

    Yeah Brooke but these are arguments coming from people that do not want to seperate church and state. So long as it’s their church :)

  26. Brooke says:

    And that is what makes no sense to me – by seeking to destroy this separation, in order to have a stranglehold on the government and laws, in the name of “Freedom”, they are setting the stage FOR the very thing they fear – a likely LOSS of religious freedom.

    I am an Evangelical Christian, in the truest sense of the term, but I cannot for the life of me understand where it says I’m supposed to seek to gain and wield political power to somehow create some earthly version of Christ’s Kingdom. The very notion is anathema to me, because it’s not what I see Christ’s followers being called to. And this mixing of religious ideals (which in and of themself are noble and good) with politics, and nationalism turns my stomach – especially when (mis)used to discriminate against and mistreat others.

  27. Frank J Witt says:

    Brooke, thru following many of your posts here and also among the DNR comment contributors, I like your logic and forwardness, with disregard to your willingness to attract detractors…if that make any sense.

    IOW, you are not afraid to say it, even if it is not popular here.

    Thank you.

  28. Brooke says:

    Thank you, Frank! That actually is one of the highest compliments you could pay me.

    Over time I’ve come to the conclusion that there will always be someone somewhere who will be offended or upset by your opinion or belief – so there’s no use being afraid to speak up for what you believe in.

    The hard part, and what I admittedly don’t always succeed in, is being able to speak out against ideas, attitudes and behaviors, without resorting to attacking the actual person. I’m not always successful in that, but it is my goal.

  29. eso says:

    I don’t know anybody besides Tom Cruise – and I don’t know him personally – who takes Scientology seriously.

  30. Brooke says:

    But would I mock someone for having that faith? I shouldn’t. Should I base my vote *solely* on whether someone is a Scientologist, or any other faith? No, I should not.

  31. eso says:

    Sure you should. It might lead them to turn away from such silliness. Besides, it’s funny.

    If you had a candidate (not Tom Cruise) who believed in a religion where it was ok to have sex with young girls, beat his wife, and hurt non-believers; you should vote against him.

  32. Brooke says:

    Well, judging by our own Bible, I’m guessing we probably shouldn’t vote for Christians and Jews, based on a number of things you could cherry pick out of the Old Testament, and even New Testament.

    Point being that there are all kinds of things in all kinds of religious belief systems that, especially if taken out of context, would give someone outside that faith pause, but the most important thing is what that particular individual believes, how they put their beliefs into practice, and most importantly, do they even believe in imposing their belief system.

    I don’t know what your particular belief system is, but if you are a Christian, I would respectfully submit that mocking another person, or their beliefs, who is of another faith is in direct contradiction with what Scripture teaches us is the manner in which we should share our faith – that is, with gentleness and respect.

  33. Frank J Witt says:

    Convenience thru ignorance. Just as I am not a racecar driver just because I drive a car, nor are people “Christians” because they sit in a church.

    What truly matters in life are your actions towards others and sometimes even yourself. I am nowhere near a perfect person but I’m am not scum of the earth in everyone’s eyes…

  34. Frank J Witt says:

    That being said, I do believe in “guilt by association” in government and in personal life. Bad people will come in and out of both positions, it is how you react when they are caught doing something you don’t accept as “right” that will measure how much time you spend looking in the mirror.

  35. JGFitzgerald says:

    Eso,

    Do you know of a religion such as you keep referring to, or is the question rhetorical?

  36. VBS says:

    Wow, I can’t believe that there’s another person named Brooke who lives in this area and thinks so much like I do. The statistical odds for this must be really unlikely. Glad to know there’s another Brooke with similiar opinions.

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