Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, just released this statement blasting recent Republican accusations that the Council on American-Islamic Relations has sent interns to Capitol Hill to spy on the U.S. government and advance a radical Islamist agenda.
At the heart of this issue is whether or not diverse populations are given a fair shot at representing their legitimate political interests in Congress, either as interns, as staff or as Members. The climate in Congress is clearly not as conducive as it should be in encouraging democratic representation, as exemplified by recent fear-rousing antics.As a result of the innumerous obstacles facing Muslim-Americans in this post-9/11 environment, their political participation is stifled and often stymied. More channels for Muslim participation are sorely needed, as well as a friendlier climate that embraces, not discourages, diversity. These fallacious allegations implicate the existence of a society still struggling with anti-Muslim sentiment. My Muslim colleagues in the House of Representatives, along with the highly qualified, patriotic and committed Muslim staffers and interns that have worked with my office and with CAPAC, contribute mightily to our democratic process. Any slander against these fellow patriots is slander against democracy and religious freedom.