Republican Chris Vance of Auburn, Washington, recently posted an editorial to his Facebook page this week, suggesting that people include their Muslim friends during the holidays. That post angered dozens of people. Vance spoke with KUOW’s Kim Malcolm:
There's no doubt that hate crimes are increasing. The level of intolerance and radical ideas out there are multiplying.
I think it is incumbent upon the Republican Party to stand up and reject hate and racism and intolerance which is — and I hate saying it — infecting our party.
There are far too many people out there who call themselves Republicans and conservatives, who now believe that all Muslims are terrorists. They will tell you that Islam is not a religion, that it is a cult or a political movement.
At one level they believe that immigration from Islamic areas should be limited. Others would say it should be eliminated. I have even frequently heard people seriously say that all Muslims should be deported, that you cannot be an American and also be a Muslim.
We have to stand up against this consistently, firmly, all the time, every time, whenever we see. It is antithetical to what it means to be an American. It's antithetical to what it means to be a Republican.
I want to tell you a story: In the middle of the campaign, CAIR, the organization that advocates for Muslims, mostly in the City of Seattle, held an event. They invited political candidates to come speak to mostly young Muslims who are interested in politics.
I went, there were representatives there from Bill Bryant's campaign, from Secretary of State Kim Wyman's campaign and from the Washington State Republican Party. But when I posted that on my Facebook page, I got it just an avalanche of comments saying, “How can you go talk to a bunch of terrorists? You're not a true Republican.”
There's a war going on for the soul of the Republican Party between those of us who hold traditional Reaganite views. And on the other side, you have people who have flooded into this party, who hold racist, bigoted hate-filled views.
I believe Republicans need to make it very clear that those people are not welcome. That's what Dan Evans did with the John Birch Society back in the 1960s. We need to say, “We don't want your votes. We don't want your money. We don't want you to volunteer to work for us if you have hate filled-views about our neighbors. You aren't welcome in the party of Abraham Lincoln Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.”
I think about leaving the party almost every day. I'm not going to do it. I would rather stand and fight for what I believe in than give up and let the party be taken over by those people.
Republican Chris Vance is a former state party chairman who tried to beat U.S. Senator Patty Murray this year. This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.