Dennis Prager makes an idiot of himself in his latest column about the newly-elected Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress [hat tip: Speedkill]

It was bad enough when Glenn Beck, the noxious, bigoted asshole asked him on air to prove that he is not a terrorist (I shit you not), but now TownHall’s Dennis Prager is essentially complaining that Ellison isn’t giving up the whole “Muslim” thing now that he’s elected.

The controversy is that Ellison will be taking his oath of office on a copy of the Koran, instead of a Bible.

He should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

Ah, doublespeak. You see, there’s nothing wrong with Islam…. except that it’s unamerican. Not even that—its inclusion into America undermines American civilization. Get out your duct tape and dried rations: a Muslim Congressman is the first Horseman, guys. I think Dennis Prager qua America (a conflation he makes often) has plenty of hostility towards the Koran.

First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism — my culture trumps America’s culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

America’s culture? Funny, I thought America was a melting pot. I didn’t realize that taking on oath of office with a Bible was because of divine mandate, but rather because most elected officials were and still are white Christian males. In fact, because Prager doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on—there’s no regulation requiring the use of a Bible or any other book during an oath of office—he’s thrashing about with a strawman about culture and authenticity: if you don’t use a Bible, you’re not American, you treasonous brown person.

It’s unfortunate but true that it matters very much what a candidate’s religion is: there are no openly atheistic public officials at any reasonably high level of government. There are very few Jews. There is now one Muslim. Getting anything other than a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male in the White House happens very rarely (even then, it was just a White Anglo-Saxon Catholic male). In practice, I’m afraid it actually does matter that America holds the Bible as its holiest book (that or Harry Potter), but Ellison and his leftist supporters are in fact saying that it shouldn’t matter in the slightest what America holds as its holiest book, at least in the context of an oath of office. Ellison isn’t going to be a minister: he’s going into politics, dealing with political issues. I don’t care, and neither should anyone else, either what god he prays to or what book he swears on, so long as he does his job with integrity.

Anyway, isn’t the whole purpose of placing one’s hand on a holy book during an oath supposed to be that the oath has particular meaning to that person? Shouldn’t Ellison’s oath mean something in the context of his faith? If mere tradition is the only reason that a Bible is used, then get rid of the book altogether: it’s a meaningless gesture in that case, all pomp and circumstance.

Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress. Would they allow him to choose Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” the Nazis’ bible, for his oath? And if not, why not? On what grounds will those defending Ellison’s right to choose his favorite book deny that same right to a racist who is elected to public office?

Two things need to be said here, I think. The first is that one must notice Prager’s rather insidious drawing of parallels between Islam and National Socialism. Somehow, this “example” bridges a gap between a largely harmless religion and one of the most brutal and iconographically evil regimes in the 20th century.

Second, I’m afraid Prager’s example is a nonsequitur. How did we go from a Muslim being elected to a racist being elected? If somebody elects a Neo-Nazi to Congress, don’t we have bigger problems than what book he chooses to swear his oath of office with? What’s more, it’s fair to say that the Qu’ran is a bona fide holy book, whereas calling Mein Kampf the “Nazis’ bible” doesn’t actually make it a holy text, no matter how hard Prager tries.

When all elected officials take their oaths of office with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed to change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11. It is hard to believe that this is the legacy most Muslim Americans want to bequeath to America. But if it is, it is not only Europe that is in trouble.

Some unifying value system underlies American civilization: you mean the Constitution, Dennis? The political philosophy of Locke and Rousseau that inspired our system of government? I think the mere fact that the politicians are taking the oath indicates this unifying value system, not that they’re swearing on the “same book.” But what Prager really means here is what so many brainless pundits have said before him: America is a Christian nation, and if you aren’t a Christian, you either need to get out or pretend that you are one. The implication (Bible = unifying values) is that without a copy of the Bible in every home, we’d soon descend into utter lawlessness and savagery, which is about as ridiculous as you can get.

Also notice the further dig against Ellison: Prager equates his use of the Qu’ran instead of the Bible with the terrorism of 9/11 (in fact, Prager’s reasoning is that Ellison’s oath of office is worse than flying planes into skyscrapers).

Forget Prager’s roundabout arguments: what he’s really pissed about is that a Muslim got elected to a circle of influence that Prager would rather see as entirely Christian, and now that very same Muslim doesn’t have the good grace to act properly cowed and suck up to the “Jesus is my Copilot” bumpersticker mentality that has plagued so much of America. It’s a ceaseless parade of busted canards: it’s no wonder Prager is a nobody now. He’s neither intelligent nor particularly provocative.

§1524 · December 5, 2006 · Tags: ·

4 Comments to “Doublespeak in action”

  1. gorte says:

    to a sheep, anything other than another sheep is dangerous

  2. Ellison isn’t going to be a minister: he’s going into politics, dealing with political issues. I don’t care, and neither should anyone else, either what god he prays to or what book he swears on, so long as he does his job with integrity.

    I do care… Though not like Prager. I would care if his understanding of god is like that of David Karesh, but thats simply not the case. In fact, being a Christian personally, I’m more than happy to elect a Muslim, given the same grounds I’d elect anyone else, that they’re going to do their job, and be representative of their people. And by representative I don’t mean that they represent “Christian” morals or values, I mean that they represent actual issues. Many congressmen are wasting space and money. If Ellison actually makes use of his time, cheers!

  3. Ben says:

    Koresh is a bad example, not because of his views on God, but because he was more or less insane. We care insofar as a person’s religious beliefs often say something about the rest of their character. Within the “mainstream” religions, it doesn’t matter so much, and it makes no difference to me what god someone worships. I would elect a Wiccan, for instance, or an atheist, a Deist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Zoroastrian, or otherwise and not think twice about it, so long as he or she didn’t try to force some aspect of their dogma on their politics.

  4. S4R says:

    I haven’t seen the demographics of Ellison’s district, but I can’t fathom its people elected him because he’s a Muslim. Short of a blatant attempt to include Islam in his administration of public policy, the silly book he chooses to use in his oath of office is irrelevant.

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