Friday, August 04, 2006

The Congressman from Dearborn

Our congressman is John Dingell, one of eight congressmen to vote against a House resolution condemning the Hesbollah attacks on Israel. According to the Ann Arbor News, the resolution "held terrorists and their state sponsors accountable for the attacks.'' Votes in favor of the resolution totalled 410.

I think Dingell, once a reasonably centrist Democrat, cares a lot about the voters in the biggest Arab community in the US: Dearborn. Ann Arbor fell into Dingell's district a few years ago thanks to creative boundry-drawing by the Republicans in Lansing.

Dearborn recently has been the site of a number of openly antisemitic and anti-American street demonstrations in support of Hesbollah. In a firsthand account in the Forward Sharona Shapiro wrote: "I struggled to come to grips with how Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah could be so glorified. ... As an American and a Jew, it is difficult for me to understand why so many Arab Americans in my community venerate him and others of his ilk."

Of the general atmosphere at the rally she continued: "the antisemitic placards at the rally were a horrendous display of Israel as Nazi obsession. Signs compared President Bush to Adolf Hitler and equated Stars of David with Nazi swastikas; one sign read, 'Israel Nazi Are the Same Thing.' This ugly comparison demeans the victims, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, of Nazi genocide, demonizes Israelis, and dehumanizes those who support Israel. Had the July 18 rally been held in Europe instead of Dearborn, it would likely have been officially classified as an antisemitic event." ("Beware Youthful Dearborn's Angry IntoleranceSharona Shapiro, Michigan area director of the American Jewish Committee

Later, Dingell got himself in hot water with conservative talk-show folks for ambiguous remarks about whether he supports Hesbollah. He insists that he didn't say he supported them. The News says: "Dingell's declared opponent in the November election didn't let the opportunity slip away, either. 'I find it shocking that Mr. Dingell cannot bring himself to express the slightest disapproval of a terrorist organization that has taken hundreds of innocent lives,' said Vinnie Vernuccio of Ann Arbor. 'The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a complex issue, but it should not be difficult to disavow an organization that intentionally kills civilians and uses Arab women and children as human shields.'" ("Terrorist label fits Hezbollah, Dingell says" Ann Arbor News, August 3, 2006)
This is the first time I've ever heard of Vinnie Vernuccio, who didn't get the needed 1000 signatures to appear on the Primary ballot. I bet I wouldn't like his policies on anything else. A quick web search reveals that he attends ultra-right law school Ave Maria. I sure wish I had more electoral choices coming my way!

1 comment:

F. Vincent Vernuccio said...

Dingell was not for or against, before he was for and against

Congressman John Dingell’s recent refusal to “take sides” against Hezbollah is unfortunately consistent with his voting record, which includes voting against a House resolution condemning their attacks. Although Mr. Dingell claims that his critics have taken his comments out of context, the fact is that when asked, “You’re not against Hezbollah?” Dingell answered, “No;” an observation that underscored his earlier comments of not being "not for or against Hezbollah."

No matter how or in what context the Congressman now wants to position his statements, they remain extremely troubling. After responding “no” when asked if he is against Hezbollah, Dingell continued that he was “against violence” and “condemn[s] Hezbollah as does everybody else, for the violence.” Vague denunciations of “the violence,” though, do not excuse his refusal to be counted as an opponent of Hezbollah.

While refusing to denounce Hezbollah, the Congressman insists that he is a steadfast friend of Israel. Once again backtracking from his Sunday comments of "not being for or against Israel" he wrote Tuesday "that during my 50 years in Congress, I have proudly supported more than $300 billion dollars in aid for the State of Israel."

Hezbollah, the organization that Mr. Dingell refuses to denounce is responsible for the deaths of over 300 Americans. In 1983, a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed 241 American servicemen who were in Beirut on a peacekeeping mission. In 2002, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General said, “If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” He has also remarked, “There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel.”

And this is the organization that the Congressman insists we must bring to the bargaining table for dialogue and compromise, with the United States acting in the role of an impartial mediator? Apparently, at least according to his most recent proclamations, Mr. Dingell now agrees that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. But if it is, then how can he believe that there is no moral difference between the actions of a democratic nation and those of an international terrorist organization? Does he truly think it is in the interest of the United States to act as a neutral “honest broker” between Israel, which Dingell insists is our steadfast ally, and Hezbollah, which has killed hundreds of Israelis and Americans in terrorist attacks?

John Dingell called his critics an “unprincipled congregation of liars.” It’s dismaying that he would lash out in such a way in response to criticism, especially when his own statements have been are so contradictory and confusing.

The Congressman’s defense of his extraordinary comments is inadequate. He owes us a better explanation.

F. Vincent Vernuccio
Vernuccio for Congress
Candidate – Michigan 15th Congressional District