Disparaging Muslims on the basis of their religion is wrong and hurts the effort to defeat terrorists who are a danger to America, Edwin Meese III
, President Reagan’s attorney general, tells Newsmax TV.
Meese supported David Ramadan, a candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, when he was being attacked last summer by extremists simply because he is a Muslim. The conspiracy-minded extremists then turned their sights on Meese, who served as Reagan’s chief of staff when he was governor of California.
The extremists claimed on websites that Ramadan was a “stealth jihadist” who had cunningly “hoodwinked” Meese. They called for mass complaints to the Heritage Foundation, where Meese is Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy.
Despite the attacks, Ramadan won the election last November by 50 votes.
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Now Meese explains for the first time why he took that courageous stand and why prejudice against Muslims defies American traditions and values.
Meese calls Ramadan a “fine man” who was appointed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to George Mason University’s Board of Visitors, similar to a board of trustees. Meese previously had served on the board and, through that connection, met Ramadan, who is CEO of Curves for Women fitness centers in the Middle East and India.
“He [Ramadan] thought very much in terms of political lines the same way I do, and so I was very happy to support him, attend one of his fundraisers, and give him my endorsement,” Meese says.
Meese recalls that a “fringe group” accused Ramadan of “somehow not being totally an American or being an Islamist or somehow not being worthy of running for office,” Meese says. “I felt that this was an unfair attack and persisted in my support of him because of that.”
Meese calls Ramadan a “person who is qualified, is an American who believes in America, and is a citizen.” To have people “disparage a person, without any evidence or without any indication that there is anything wrong with them, simply on the basis of the fact that he had come from a Middle East background [seemed to be] the wrong thing to do.”
Ramadan was born in Lebanon and came to America in 1989 when he was 19. A graduate of George Mason, he worked for the Bush-Quayle campaign in 1992, George Allen for governor in 1993, and Bush-Cheney in 2000 and 2004. Now as a delegate, he represents sections of Loudoun and Prince William counties.
Besides Meese, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Richmond, who is Jewish, endorsed Ramadan. At a press conference held in connection with a Ramadan campaign event where Meese spoke, Ramadan began by saying, “I am proud and honored to be an American citizen.”
“All of us have come to America either directly or through ancestors from some other country — other than Native Americans, perhaps — and so I think it is important that we be very careful not to accuse people of things that are not true,” Meese says.
It’s one thing if a Muslim “believes in Sharia law, for example, and thinks that we should have it in this country, or believes that we should not have fought against terrorists who happen to come from Muslim backgrounds,” Meese says.
Otherwise, “We have to be very careful not to disparage them in any way, for something that they haven’t done.”
Suhail Khan, a respected board member of the American Conservative Union who was a White House aide under President George W. Bush, has also come under attack by similar groups because he is a Muslim. Ironically, Khan devotes a great deal of his time to bringing together Muslims, Jews, and Christians.
As noted in my story Herman Cain Apologizes for Muslim Remarks
, Khan saw what bigotry can lead to when he and Marshall Breger put together a visit last August by leading rabbis and imams to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany and to Auschwitz in Poland. Breger is an orthodox Jew who is a professor at Catholic University of America and was President Reagan’s liaison to the Jewish community.
“I think it’s always serious when any American is disparaged because of their religion, solely because of their religion or their background, when there is no basis for it,” Meese says. “I think it’s a wrong thing, and it does hinder our efforts to counter those people that are really involved and hurting America.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. His latest, "The Secrets of the FBI," has just been published. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via email. Go Here Now.
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