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I’m with Tulsi—you don’t get to choose your team!

ou don’t get to choose your team. That’s an important lesson I learned while playing professional baseball in a career that brought me to seven different countries and included hundreds of different teammates. In the last week, two things have reminded me of this lesson.

One of those things was an article published by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard whom I recently had the great pleasure of meeting. I highly recommend reading it for yourself (you can find a link HERE). Much of what she talks about really hits home for my district which is currently represented by Republican Steve King, perhaps the most divisive member in all of Congress. Rep. Gabbard points out that in today’s troubling political climate:

It is more important than ever to… love and treat all others with respect, to be inclusive rather than exclusive. The divisiveness that threatens the fabric of our nation — whether due to race, religion, political ideology, gender, sexual orientation, or other — must end.   ~Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

I stand with Tulsi in calling for an end to politics of division and in promoting a nation of inclusiveness.

I was also reminded of the importance of unity over division when I attended an important event last week, and I wanted to explain why I chose to be a part of it.

I attended Dr. Stephen Kirby’s event at the Sioux Center Library to protest the discrimination of the Muslim faith. As a Christian, I follow the Golden Rule of “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” And when Ronald Reagan described his “Shining city upon a hill” in his Farewell Address, with “the doors open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here,” he’s speaking of  an inclusive, coexisting society.

I have read excerpts of Dr. Kirby’s work. I know that he is a former member of the LAPD who has his PhD in International Affairs with an emphasis in Soviet Foreign Policy. I question his authority about writing on Islam because he’s not a scholar in theology and his doctorate is from a different field. His books are merely divisive opinion pieces.

I firmly disagree with his message. For example, if you use some of the same logic that he uses about Muslims, then somehow I would be linked to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) because of my Catholicism.

I acknowledge that he has the freedom of speech. I also have the freedom of speech. And Muslims have the freedom of religion.

I was there because I believe in an inclusive, coexisting society. I was there to stand up for the 3.3 million Muslims in America which include two members of Congress, 900 police officers in New York City, and the 5,900 active members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

I was there because one of the most amazing people that I have met in my life and am honored to call a great friend is Muslim. After graduating from Penn State University she joined the Peace Corp and served in Morocco. She later earned her Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University and is currently working on her PhD while being a mother to an adorable little boy. The overwhelming majority of American Muslims are productive and valuable members of this country just like she is.

When I played professional baseball, I didn’t get to choose my teammates. It didn’t matter if my third baseman was from New Jersey, the Dominican Republic, Texas or wherever. In baseball, it wasn’t important that we were often a team of different religions, different ethnicities, or different political beliefs. We worked together for a unified common goal. That’s my mentality as a candidate for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. And that’s why I stand with Tulsi Gabbard in calling for America to come together and to leave the rhetoric that divides us behind.

Standing Tall for All,

J.D. Scholten

P.S. Say you stand with me in supporting unity over division by supporting our movement to unseat Steve King!