There was no photo-op or press release from Rep. Walter Jones’ (R-NC) office when a local library in his district was awarded a federal grant to expand its collection. Instead, in an exceedingly rare move, Jones actually criticized the grant money that will soon be coming to eastern North Carolina for one reason: it will be used to buy books about Muslim culture.
Craven Community College, a small school in New Bern, was recently awarded a small National Endowment for the Humanities grant. The money, enough for 25 books and a DVD, is intended to expand the library’s Muslim culture collection. Jones protested that the money was unfairly benefiting Muslims and harming Christians, as he explained in a local TV interview.
“I want to treat it fairly and I think too many times the Christian faith is not treated fairly,” Jones said. “If they want to have book about the Muslim’s faith, let’s have equal number of books about Judeo-Christian [faith].”
The North Carolina Republican insisted he has nothing against Muslims. “Keith Ellison from Minnesota is a friend of mine and he’s a Muslim,” Jones said.
Jones told WITN he wrote a letter in response to the grant to a local Christian organization, asking for them to provide an equal number of Judeo-Christian items to offset the new Muslim culture books in the library’s collection. For its part, the college is happily anticipating the new funds. Judy Eurich, Director of Marketing, Communications and Development Liaison at Craven Community College, explained: “anytime we have an opportunity to apply for a grant that’s going to either give us money or resources to enhance our library collection, that’s an important resource to us.”
Still, Jones’ protests are unlikely to harm his standing in the eyes of constituents. In a WITN web poll, only 14 percent of respondents thought the college should accept the grant, compared to 62 percent opposed.