In the heat of election season, it’s not always easy to find politicians who speak freely about defending the rights of Muslims. This week, B.C. & Mordant are joined by one congressman who does just that. The podcast welcomes Congressman Don Beyer, representative for the Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church areas. He serves in his constituency more U.S. government employees than any place in the country, and also enjoys the perk of living the closest to the Capitol.
Through his service, he has rediscovered the important and vibrant Muslim community in Virginia, he says. And he notes that they are eager to be involved in the political process.
“We hired a full time Muslim campaign worker,” he says. He has put together a sub-campaign to advocate for the community.
Congressman Beyer talks about the hate speech that has come into play this election season, insisting, “We have to fight back.”
“I saw how these young people were hurt by the many unkind, threatening things that were said,” he says.
In this podcast, he discusses his efforts pushing forward legislation decrying hate speech, and shares his efforts advocating for a bill clarifying what it means to have freedom of religion.
The bill is currently exactly one sentence long, and states that a person’s religious belief will not be an automatic bar to entry into the United States.
“We don’t think any American with true American values should be in a position of banning people because of their religious faith,” he says.
Check out this episode to learn how a bill becomes a law and hear surprising stories and examples of Islamophobia and dangerous rhetoric in politics.
Congressman Beyer has many goals in office, and one of them is being a voice for the voiceless. “Standing up for the many, many hard working, honest, tax-paying Muslim citizens…honors who these wonderful people are, and it provides a counterbalance and a context.”
In his position, he is able to lend his voice to important causes. “Sometimes,” he says, “the greatest tool that a political leader has is a microphone.” And there is also advice he offers for everyone, microphone or not.
“Let our lives be our argument. Be the role models that we would like others to be for us.”