Howard Kleinhendler, I wanted to vote for you. Not that I knew who you were before you left that automated call I found on my answering machine last night, but I have voted against Chris Smith in every election since I moved to NJ's fourth congressional district. As the Democratic candidate this time around, you would have gotten my vote simply for standing against him.
When I got home and listened to the first 15 seconds of the pre-recorded message you'd left on my answering machine, I swore and punched the delete key; I wish now I'd saved it so that I could quote it to shame you. Have you become confused about what race you're running in, and maybe think you're now running for a seat on the New York City Planning Commission? Are you perhaps an expert in Islamic theology when it comes to the location of religious centers?
If not, why is it any business of yours where Muslims in New York choose to worship? Have you forgotten that this is America, where we are supposed to have higher standards for religious freedom and tolerance than anywhere else on the planet? Did you really want my first introduction to you to be a robocall assuring me that you're at least as full of anti-Muslim bigotry as your opponent?
Don't tell me about September 11th. I remember it well. I remember what a gloriously bright blue the sky was that morning. I remember the news stories on the radio that morning ("Mad Cow disease discovered in Japan"). I remember the minutes between the planes when we could think it was some terrible accident, and the shock of the revelation, after the second plane hit, that this was a deliberate attack. I remember frantically trying to find news websites that were still up to tell us what was going on. I remember over the next several days deliberately avoiding the TV and its endless replay of people jumping from the collapsing towers. And I remember how over the course of the following months and years our country went collectively insane.
I'm sure that the rest of your message, had I listened to it, would have calmly used language about the difference between having the right to do something and whether that's a good idea; that's the usual middle ground politicians attempt to carve out here. But there is no middle ground to be had there - you have declared that the anti-Muslim sentiment of people who were not actually there in Manhattan on that Tuesday trumps America's historic commitment to freedom of religion. You have joined with those who would class Muslims as non-American by definition. As a consequence, I cannot press the button next to your name this November.
I still can't bring myself to vote for Rep. Smith - his long commitment to a reactionary position on reproductive rights guarantees that - but when you see the full breakdown including write-in votes know that the "George Washington" write-in is from me. I know he's ineligible being dead and, more than that, a Virginian, but I'd point you to his letter to the Jewish community in Newport, RI as an example to follow. "To bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance" - that's how politicians speak when they want my vote.