US CONGRESSMAN BLAMES MARRIAGE COLLAPSE ON MUSLIM NEIGHBORS
Maxim Kniazkov, Agence France Presse, 10/5/03
A half-century ago, Communist spies were the whipping boys. Now, with
the war on terror revving up, a ranking Republican lawmaker has
blamed the presence of a US Muslim organization in his neighborhood
for stress that undermined his 50-year marriage.
Seventy-six-year-old Cass Ballenger gave vent to his suspicions and
frustrations about the Council on American-Islamic Relations in an
interview with The Charlotte Observer, a newspaper popular in his
rural North Carolina district that published his remarks on Saturday.
He said the proximity of CAIR headquarters to the couple's Washington
home "bugged the hell" out of his wife...
Ballenger, who chairs the House Subcommittee on the Western
Hemisphere, said his wife was particularly nervous about all the
activities at CAIR headquarters, including people unloading boxes and
women "wearing hoods," or headscarves, going in and out of the
building on New Jersey Avenue...
In a swift response, the council called on leaders of the Republican
Party to publicly repudiate Ballenger's "bigoted" statements and
strip him of his committee seat.
"Congressman Ballenger's bizarre comments demonstrate the sheer
lunacy of his political and religious views," said Arsalan Iftikhar,
CAIR's director of legal affairs. "Ballenger's statements are a
perfect example of Islamophobic hysteria at the highest levels of
Iftikhar said the lawmaker's comments and actions prove that he is
not suitable to deal with foreign policy issues that could impact the
Arab and Muslim world.
"To have him continue to serve on the International Relations
Committee would be an insult to the American Muslim community and
would further damage America's international image," he stressed.
Ballenger, who made a fortune manufacturing plastic packaging for
underwear, is no stranger to seeing his words come back to haunt him.
Last December, he fired an angry broadside at outgoing Democratic
Representative Cynthia McKinney, who had sparked a furor among
Republicans by suggesting that President George W. Bush knew in
advance about the possibility of the September 11 attacks and did
nothing to prevent them.
Ballenger said McKinney, who is black, had stirred in him "a little
bit of a segregationist feeling." "I mean, she was such a b...tch,"
Years earlier, he caused another outcry in Congress by comparing the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration to the Nazi secret
'IF STUPID BIGOTRY WERE A FELONY...'
Mark Shields, CNN CAPITAL GANG, 10/4/03
SHIELDS: And now for the "outrage of the week." The Council on
American Islamic Relations took out a full page ad in "The New York
Times" to condemn the attacks of September 11. And on that date
since, has sponsored an interfaith day of National Unity in
But nine term Republican Congressman Cass Ballenger of North Carolina
says his marriage broke up because he lived next door to the Office
of the religious group, which was so close to the capitol, he
worried "they could blow the place up."
If stupid bigotry were a felony, Congressman Ballenger would be doing
long, hard time.
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