Two weeks ago, after the attacks in Paris, Washington state representative Jay Rodne posted a typo-ridden comment on Facebook, saying Islam was "incompatible" with Western civilization and imploring Americans to "arm" themselves. Soon after, Democrats called for the Republican from Snoqualmie to be ousted from his position as ranking GOP member of the House Judiciary Committee.
This week, Rodne went on a conservative podcast to respond to some of the criticism. During his interview with Freedom Foundation managing editor Jeff Rhodes, Rodne tried to justify his comments by claiming that one or two of the Paris attackers were "newly arrived Syrian refugees." This is false. So far, every attacker and accomplice has been identified as a European citizen.
Rodne also mischaracterized statements made by FBI director James Comey about the "risk" refugees pose to national security. While Comey has acknowledged that vetting refugees is never risk-free, he also said there's no credible threat of a Paris-type attack in the United States, and CNN has reported that Comey has concerns about the GOP-led bill to restrict Syrian refugees from entering the United States.
In a more egregious part of the interview, Rodne laughs when Rhodes makes fun of the surname of Jamal Raad, communications director for the Washington State Democrats. Raad's father is from Lebanon. Listen here:
Although the podcast has been taken down from the Freedom Foundation's website, and managing editor Jeff Rhodes has not responded to an e-mail asking why, I obtained a copy of the full audio of the podcast.
Here's a transcription of that audio, when Rhodes asks Rodne about a comment made by Raad:
RHODES: And there's a quote here that says, 'Jay Rodne's bigoted and Islamophobic comments are just unacceptable and someone who holds these hateful views should not hold a position of power in Olympia.' And this comes from the communications director from the [laughs], from the Washington State Democrats. I should mention his name is Jamal Raad.
[Both Rhodes and Rodne chuckle.]
RHODES: I don't know. Am I the only one who found that a... you know, amusing?
RODNE: Well, I think it underscores how, um, how hostile the Democratic party has become to free speech. And I mean, the fact that... listen, Jeff. I have put my life on the line for moderate Muslims in Iraq. I have seen the horrors and the savagery of war. I've deployed to Desert Storm. I've deployed to Somalia in '92, '93 for Operation Restore Hope to deliver food to Somali Muslims who were being intentionally starved by radicals. And of course then again I deployed to Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. I've traveled extensively throughout the Middle East. And so, I think I have a unique perspective on this issue. And I can tell you that I've got Muslim friends who are very dear. I mean, the thought that I... I do, I do take offense to the State Democrats' Party's position that because I've exercised my free speech right as a citizen of the United States, somehow that I should step down or I should be removed from my leadership position on the judiciary committee. That's absurd.
Of course, no one's calling out Rodne for exercising his "freedom of speech." But if Rodne's speech reveals how boneheaded he is, the issue of whether he's capable of making judicious (adjective: "having, exercising, or characterized by sound judgment") laws on behalf of Washington's citizens is a separate matter entirely.