My latest op-ed, title above, appeared in The Virginian-Pilot last Thursday. The title refers to a part of Article I, Section 16 of the Virginia constitution, which Republican LG candidate E. W. Jackson read from his iPad during last week’s debate.
… all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
Jackson’s uses this passage, along with the 1st Amendment, to justify his hateful rhetoric against almost everybody in Virginia. He basically wants us to ignore that – because he has the right to say those things. But he failed to grasp that the constitutional passage he quoted means he shouldn’t allow his religious beliefs to affect his work, if elected. We know that’s not the case: just take a look at the issues page on his website. For the preacher, I offered in my column some biblical passages with which he should already be familiar, and which should help guide him to a more inclusive understanding.
In an editorial today, The Washington Post is more strident in its assessment of Jackson, calling him “too extreme.” That is true, but those who watched the debate Tuesday night did not see the fire-breathing preacher on display. Candidates have a way of hiding “teh crazy” when in front of a mixed audience.
Case in point: I went to the candidates’ forum in Virginia Beach about 10 days ago which featured the House of Delegates candidates for the 82nd district. My only exposure to Virginia Beach councilman Bill DeSteph, the Republican candidate, is what I’ve read about him in the newspaper, including this episode from a couple of years ago. At the forum, DeSteph looked and sounded like a reasonable guy. Then last week, he was the lone vote against the building of a mosque in Virginia Beach, saying, without offering any proof, that it was connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Appearances can be deceiving. What a candidate says outside of trying to woo votes – or in front of an audience of like-minded folks – is probably more telling about them than well-rehearsed debate or forum appearances. That’s why campaigns employ trackers – to show the real candidate.
Don’t let them fool you.
Last Thursday was also the day that the newspaper started its paywall. So either subscribe to the paper or save some of your 10 free monthly reads for my columns
My column appears in The Virginian-Pilot every week, usually on Thursdays. You can see the columns as they are published here, or navigate to them from the PilotOnline.com homepage by clicking on Opinion and then choosing my name at the bottom of the dropdown list. You can also see the columns by liking my Facebook page. Although my column appears weekly, I am not and have never been an employee of The Virginian-Pilot.Follow @vpaige