Read this brief piece from today’s Washington Post:
Sunday, October 5, 2003; Page A22
Lawmaker Links Woes To Muslims’ Proximity
CHARLOTTE — Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-N.C.) blames the breakup of his 50-year marriage partly on the stress of living near a leading Muslim advocacy group that he and his wife worried was so close to the U.S. Capitol that “they could blow the place up.”
The nine-term lawmaker, in an interview with the Charlotte Observer, called the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — whose headquarters are across the street from his Capitol Hill home — a “fundraising arm” of terrorist groups. He said he reported the group to the FBI and the CIA.
Ballenger, 76, said yesterday that he had no problem with Muslims in general, but that he objected to what he believes are ties the group has with terrorists.
“The only difference I have is that building across the street. In my opinion, it should never have been leased” to the group, Ballenger said.
His wife, Donna, said the couple had kept a close eye on CAIR since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and worried that the group’s activities might jeopardize security on Capitol Hill.
“This gang across the street is questionable,” she said.
The council, which looks out for Muslims’ civil rights and sponsors interfaith gatherings, urged other Republicans to repudiate what it called Ballenger’s “bigoted” statements.
Ballenger’s “bizarre comments demonstrate the sheer lunacy of his political and religious views,” said Arsalan Iftikhar, the council’s legal affairs director.
In addition to CAIR, Ballenger told the newspaper that another source of stress on the marriage was the 1995 decision by “holier-than-thou Republicans” in the House to ban gifts from lobbyists. The meals and theater tickets from lobbyists once meant “a social life for [congressional] wives,” Ballenger said. His wife agreed, saying, “Just a dinner now and then” would do no harm.