On March 6th I sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell regarding a rally held in Yorba Linda, California. The rally was one of the most hateful things I've ever seen, and the hatred was directed at American citizens. The ostensible reason for the protest was that the fundraiser at an Islamic community center, which was raising money for local charities, featured a speaker who had voiced views the protesters disagreed with. Regardless of their initial reason, as the guests at the community center came in, the protesters screamed out religious slurs of all kinds at the men, women, and children. Three of the speakers at the rally were Republican elected officials. I asked Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell to take action to make it clear that the Republican Party is not the party of hatred and would not allow the members of Boehners caucus to stand for this kind of hate speech toward American Muslims. At the end of my post, I promised to post any reply I received from either Boehner or McConnell.
Well, I did receive a reply from Speaker Boehner today:
April 1, 2011
Mr. Benjamin Gorman
219 Grand St
Independence, OR 97351-2111
Dear Mr. Gorman:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me. It's good to hear from you.
Your ideas, comments, and questions help make possible my goal of leading a House of Representatives that listens and reflects the will of the American people. That's why I'd like to ask you to keep speaking out by:
* Visiting Speaker.gov to sign up for email updates on issues that concern you;
* Offering your solutions and engaging other Americans on the challenges facing our country at AmericaSpeakingOut.com;
* Joining the conversation on Facebook.com/OfficeofSpeakerBoehner/; and
* Connecting with my office on Twitter.com/SpeakerBoehner/.
I made a Pledge to America to focus on removing government barriers to private-sector job creation and economic growth - that includes cutting spending to help end the uncertainty facing job creators; repealing the job-crushing health care law and replacing it with common sense reforms that lower costs; reining in excessive regulations; and promoting an American Energy Initiative that increases energy production to create jobs and lower energy prices. I also pledged to lead an effort to reform Congress and rebuild the bonds of trust between the American people and their representatives in Washington. I hope you'll stay engaged and keep me updated on your thoughts as we work to keep this pledge.
Thank you again for contacting me and please stay in touch.
Speaker of the House
Okay, so let's assume this was a form letter and not an April Fool's joke. This man is being asked to defend his party from the charge that it knowingly includes elected officials who participate in hate rallies directed at Americans. His response is that he's working on private-sector job creation and repealing health care reform. This strikes me as both wholly unsatisfying and disturbingly nonchalant in the face of this situation. "Speaker Boehner, is your party the party of Islamophobic hatred?" "Um, here are some other things I'm working on right now." Unacceptable.
I'll take his advice and post links to this and my initial letter on his Facebook page and the website he recommends. Hopefully that will encourage him to respond to my concerns in a more serious, thoughtful way.
I tried to post this concern to both the Facebook page Speaker Boehner mentions, and the website where he directed me. His Facebook page does not allow wall-to-wall posts, and it didn't feel right to tack this on in a comment to one of his unrelated posts. Apparently when you join the conversation, that entails responding to his posts or being rude and hijacking them. The other site was even less friendly. If I didn't want to post an idea within four categories, none of which seemed appropriate, I could post it in "other". I tried, but it won't accept links and has a word structure wherein I would be throwing out an accusation for people to vote up or down, rather than asking for a response from the Speaker. I don't want to know whether those random, anonymous strangers think it's a good idea for Boehner to do something about hate-speech coming out of his caucus. I want him to do something about hate-speech coming out of his caucus! The fact that the mechanisms Boehner directed me to make it so difficult to get a real answer reinforces my view that the Republican Party, at least under Speaker Boehner's leadership, is willing to tolerate this kind of hatred of Americans and doesn't have the slightest intention of even listening to requests that they stand up for American Muslims.
I asked for a reply via Twitter. We'll see.