Rep. Cantor: An Exclusivist Caucus of One

Being a Jewish Republican in Congress is a singular experience -- literally. With Senator Arlen Specter's (D-PA) move to the Democratic Party and the general GOP "let's narrow our base wherever possible" philosophy, it's no surprise that Republicans are faring so poorly, and that Jewish Republicans are faring even worse. In the historically Democratic demographic of the Jewish community, there is now only one Republican member of Congress -- Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA). And Cantor is doing his part to think narrowly and exclusively.

Take his remarks this week before the Christians United for Israel conference. He notably told the participants that America's Middle East policy has to be "firmly grounded" in Judeo-Christian principles. Cantor said, "Reaching out to the Muslim world may help in creating an environment for peace in the Middle East, but we must insist as Americans that our policies be firmly grounded in the beliefs of the Judeo-Christian tradition upon which this country was founded."

First, hyphenated phrases like "Judeo-Christian" tend to emphasize the latter element, and deemphasize the former. Regardless, I guess American Jews should just consider themselves lucky to be included in Cantor's narrow formulation. Where exactly does the average atheist fit? Or -- heaven forbid! -- a Muslim? A Hindu? A Sikh? And the list goes on and on, with the many faiths that make up today's America.

Breaking news, Congressman: a majority of Americans agree that this country's strength lies in its diversity. Referring to the "Judeo-Christian tradition upon which this country was founded" is narrow-minded, exclusivist code language, and basing policy on such attitudes is even worse. It isn't exactly a profile in courage to engage in such rhetoric before a hall packed with thousands of Evangelicals, either.

Keep engaging in narrow-speak, Cantor. At least it will help simplify scheduling meetings for the one-person Jewish GOP caucus in Congress.