What is the update? Here is the video of the debate.
This evening I attended the debate between our current Chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, Corey Stewart, and his challenger for the Republican nomination, Chris Crawford. Both gentlemen did a credible job. So the debate proved to be quite interesting.
Potomac Local and the Coles District Civic Association sponsored the debate, and the Dar AlNoor Islamic Community Center on Hoadly Road in Woodbridge hosted it. Since I had not been in a mosque before, I was curious to see what would be different.
The first thing I noticed was the building itself. I had driven by it, and it is different enough that it stands out. However, since it is a mosque, it had not occurred to me that I would have any reason to enter it. So I was a bit surprised to find myself going in.
As I expected, everyone is required to take off their shoes first. Actually, we do that in my house too. So I have no trouble with someone who thinks that is appropriate for God’s house.
I went up to the second floor, where they have what most Christians would call a fellowship hall. That is the room that was used for the debate. Children from the mosque initiated the program of events.
- First we had a reading from the Koran, at least I think that is what it was, apparently both in Arab and English.
- Next we had the presentation of the American flag.
- Finally, all recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
With the boys dressed as cub scouts and boy scouts, the only thing that seemed unusual was that girls dressed more conservatively (wearing Muslim garb) than would brownies or girl scouts.
The Coles District Civic Association is suppose to post a video of the debate, and I recommend viewing it. My guess is that anyone who takes the time to vote in the Firehouse Primary to select the Republican Party’s nominee for the Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors (scheduled April 25 from 10 AM to 3 PM) will also take the time to watch the video. So what follows are some highlights and observations.
What was Corey Stewart’s message? He wants to sell us on the idea that the county is in good shape and getting better. He says he has focused on three things:
- Education: With respect to this subject, Stewart said almost nothing. As a practical matter, all the BOCS does is hand over half of its budget to the School Board, and the School Board spends it. So the best he can do is hand over lots of money.
- Transportation: Stewart repeated much of what he states here on his transportation issue page. All I can say is that I am happy the state, not the county, is paying for most of this road construction.
- Public Safety: Here Stewart focused primarily on the issue of illegal immigration, and it is hard to fault what Stewart attempted to do. What is wrong with requiring law enforcement to verify the citizenship status of anyone the arrest? What is wrong with turning illegal immigrants to the federal government for deportation? Nothing. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama now has other ideas.
Stewart also discussed two other issues.
- Attracting commercial businesses to the county: On his issues page, Stewart refers to this subject as Jobs. Stewart’s problem here is that too many have observed that we have gotten lots new businesses in retail and service sector, but not much else. To what extent is that Stewart’s fault? Given the Great Recession occurred on his watch, that’s difficult to say.
- Prosperity: At the same time we had the Great Recession, increased Federal spending led to increased numbers of well paid government workers and contractors in the county. Stewart takes credit for this increase. Is that fair? Has this increase helped our schools? That’s something to think about. Who did Stewart help most? Developers or county residents?
Without seeming to be arrogant, Crawford’s problem is to point out Stewart’s legitimate shortcomings and how he can do better. To this end, Crawford focused on:
- The county’s disappointment with its schools: Like Stewart, what Crawford said can often be found on his website. With his own children going to schools in Prince William County, Crawford is disappointed with the county’s low SOL scores, the lowest in northern Virginia. Crawford promises to focus funding on schools to reduce class size.
- Long commutes: Crawford has observed from personal experience (he commutes) that there are relatively few jobs in Prince William County. He referred to an: “Innovation Park that looks like a wheat field.” He promised to attract business by keeping taxes low and striving for good schools. That involves establishing and adhering to budget priorities.
Naturally, Crawford also dealt with other topics.
- When questioned about his immigration policy, Crawford observed that we need a Republican president. Otherwise, we must deal with the fact that the illegal aliens are now here “legally.” We must help the new arrivals to learn English and to assimilate into our communities.
- Crawford said that the roads the county is building are being built for development, not for commuters to get to jobs. That is a polite way of saying that Prince William residents are funding development.
- When Stewart said that Prince William County residents pay the lowest taxes in northern Virginia, Crawford countered that we pay the highest rates, but our homes are worth the least. Property values have not recovered from the Great Recession.
- When Stewart argued that he is the stronger candidate to help the Republican Party win county-wide, Crawford pointed to our losses during presidential elections.
The Bob FitzSimmonds Controversy
When I saw the venue for the debate, I must admit I raised an eyebrow. Huh? However, the location is in the middle of the county, Muslims have conservative social values, and the candidates had agreed to it. Shrug. Still, I don’t trust the news media. So when the debate moderators (news media) brought up a question about Bob FitzSimmonds’ last controversy, I can’t say I was too surprised. Just disgusted.
On July 29, 2014, Bob FitzSimmonds posted this on his facebook account.
To mark the end of Ramadan, on Sunday, Obama released a statement thanking Muslim Americans “for their many achievements and contributions….to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy.”
It is one thing to be gracious on religous holidays, but this is pure nonsense. Exactly what part of our nation’s fabric was woven by Muslims? What about Sikhs, Animists, and Jainists? Should we be thanking them too?
That was in response to this statement from the White House.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
July 27, 2014
Statement by the President on the Occasion of Eid-al-Fitr
As Muslims throughout the United States and around the world celebrate Eid-al-Fitr, Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to them and their families. This last month has been a time of fasting, reflection, spiritual renewal, and service to the less fortunate. While Eid marks the completion of Ramadan, it also celebrates the common values that unite us in our humanity and reinforces the obligations that people of all faiths have to each other, especially those impacted by poverty, conflict, and disease.
In the United States, Eid also reminds us of the many achievements and contributions of Muslim Americans to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy. That is why we stand with people of all faiths, here at home and around the world, to protect and advance their rights to prosper, and we welcome their commitment to giving back to their communities.
On behalf of the Administration, we wish Muslims in the United States and around the world a blessed and joyous celebration. Eid Mubarak. (from here)
The fact is that until recent years there have not been significant numbers of Muslims in the United States. So what President Obama said was plainly patronizing, and that is all FitzSimmonds observed. Muslims should have been insulted by our president’s offensively condescending manner, not FitzSimmonds’ observation of the obvious.
Let’s put it this way. If President Bill Clinton was our first black president, then President Obama is our first Muslim president, and neither of those gentlemen have done anything to quell either racial or religious strife. In fact, both have played upon our racial and religious prejudices to gain votes.
Unfortunately, most of our Republican leaders won’t fight back. When Democrats play race card or the religious bigotry card, what do our Republican leaders typically do? The chickens join the Democrats and the news media and castigate the Republican “offender.” Because they are too willing to join a lynch mob, such people are too cowardly to be trusted with power.
So when they were questioned about FitzSimmonds’ statement, how did our two candidates reply?
- Crawford took the question first. He claimed to be unfamiliar with the incident, and he used the question as opportunity to advocate Republican outreach to Hispanics and Muslims, pointing out that because of their conservative values both these groups are natural fits for Republian Party. Whether Crawford has nerves of steel I don’t know, but at least he did not attack FitzSimmonds. (Note: Crawford responds after the question is stated at about 44 minutes into the video.)
- Stewart promptly castigated FitzSimmonds. Then he pointed out his efforts to reach out to the Muslim community, particularly the folks at Dar AlNoor Islamic Community Center. (Note: Stewart responds after the question is repeated at about 49 minutes into the video.)
Note that during the meeting our hosts passed out a flyer. On May 2nd, the Dar AlNoor Islamic Community Center will host an exhibition. On what? “Muslim in America from the 1700’s to the present.” Coincidence?
- I think the question about the Bob FitzSimmonds Controversy too contrived. This debate was between Republicans. So what was the point of letting the news media stage it? We can trust the news media to make us look good? Who still believes that?
- I personally don’t like Islam, and I have made no secret of that. On the other hand, there are things I dislike far more, and what the Democrats are doing to this country is to the disadvantage of both Christians and Muslims. Moreover, we have an obligation to practice what we preach. Because I believe in freedom of religion, I don’t wait for Muslims to support and defend our right to practice our religious beliefs. Nevertheless, when there were hardly any Muslims in this country, I am not going to pretend that Muslims were here or that they made any significant contributions to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy. Religious tolerance does not require lying.