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Posted by on Dec 5, 2006 in At TMV | 17 comments

Strange Affiliation

Good Lord, did you know that Dennis Prager (he who attacked Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison for wanting to take his oath of office on the Koran) is on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council? I just found out through the Anti-Defamation League’s response to his call, which accused his argument as being “intolerant, misinformed and downright un-American.”

If I’m not mistaken (and I well may be), membership on the council is done by executive appointment.

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  • Let me start by saying I disagree strongly with Prager’s argument. I think Ellison’s use of the Koran would be a great thing, since by using it while taking an oath to uphold the Constitution he would be making a definitive statement that Islam is not categorically hostile to liberal democracy. That is a statement that moderate Muslims have not made openly enough or often enough, in my opinion, and Ellison has a clear opportunity to strike a symbolic blow against extremist “clash of civilizations” type thinking.

    That said, much of what has been said about Prager is overheated and unfair. It might be best for those who are interested in this issue to try to balance the coverage by reading Prager’s own response.

  • Holly in Cincinnati

    What’s so strange about it? I’m not surprised to hear it at all.

  • Unfortuantely, Prager’s response is rooted in the same intolerant perspective he voiced the first time around.

    I posted on this subjects earlier today, here, for those who are interested.

  • Russ

    You will have to explain, Pete – I do not see valuing tradition as being “intolerant.” The US is not just a group of people who happen to live within a certain geographic area. It has attained its strength largely because of certain shared ideals, many of which are rooted in Judeo-Christian traditions. Ellison did not simply ignore them – he made a big deal out of the symbolism of using a text from a very different tradition.

  • Given what the constitution says…this is a non-issue anyway. ONE MORE TIME FOR THE FOLKS OUT THERE AT HOME…

    The United States Constitution
    Article VI, Clause 3:

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

    Now can we drop this story once and for all? Thanks.

  • Andrew

    Prager’s response confirms that he is an intolerant ass.

  • Prager’s response was spectacularly weak. I also note that he skirts over (at best) the point that he is empirically wrong about the usage of non-Christian bibles in swearing-in ceremonies, which really collapses his whole point.

  • I feel that is a relevant ongoing issue about the core values of our society. It will continue to come up as it did with Ellison and Newt Gingrich’s concerns about the freedom of speech.

    I am agnostic so a religious text has no special meaning to me. But the code of conduct implied in the Constitution is. The Constitution has transcended a mere legal document to become the symbol of what makes like worth living.

    I wouldn’t support a war to defend a religion, but I would to defend the Constitution.

    Prager’s passions are misplaced, in my opinion.

  • bellisaurius

    Ah, I read his response. I now see it’s a viewpoint issue. He’s viewing this as a matter of tastefulness as opposed to law (I’m being generous. He’s actually calling it morality, which is a step past tastefulness).

    In that case, let him enjoy the bad flavor in his mouth. In the end, the Koran will be used, and the guy’ll be sworn in. It matters not what we say.

    After the first few people who blog it, the topic should’ve been dropped. It’s like feeding trolls.

  • Russ,

    Traditions that are used — or convoluted — to exclude or debase another person’s beliefs/preferences are in fact intolerant. In fact, that type of behavior is central to the meaning of intolerance.


    I think you are ultimately right, after the first few blog-hits, the topic should’ve been dropped. I say that being one of those who has continued to blog about it, far too many times.

  • bellisaurius

    I understand Pete. It’s hard not to respond to something that reeks of offensiveness.

    Sometimes, I think it’s a good thing because it gets a debate going, which Newt’s comments about the first amendment did. I definitely don’t agree with them, but it does raise a worthwhile question of “What can we do within the law”?

    In this case, since the constitution is so explicit, all we’re arguing is good manners. The smackdown is needed, but everything after that makes it seem like it’s a worthwhile, debatable topic. Perhaps the better way to view it is as a lesson in what we mean when we talk about “church and state”, and “no religious tests”.

    I’d imagine this is a teaching moment for the separation of church and state crowd since there’s such unanimity of opinion on a guy choosing on a religious issue. It’ll point out why we have the concept.

  • Someone on the holocaust memorial council is rude to those subscribing to a religion often used to call for the deaths of jews? What are the odds!

  • Because Lord knows massive religious-based essentialism has served Jews so well in the past….

  • Rudi

    Maybe Prager can go off to Aruba and solve the Natalie Hollaway story. He tried to create a story and the ‘bomb’ went off in his face. Those dark skinned Arubians hate us for our Judeo-Christian values…….

    I wonder why Prager didn’t whine about this, courtesy of Wiki:

    Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz
    Schultz was victorious, taking 70.2% to Hosteller’s 29.8%. When Wasserman Schultz was sworn in on January 4, 2005, she insisted on using the Tanakh. Because Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert only had a Christian Bible, a copy of the Tanakh was borrowed by Hastert’s staff from Congressman Gary Ackerman for this purpose.

  • Holly in Cincinnati

    I suspect that, at least for the last 30+ years, Prager is flat-out wrong on Jews using Christian bibles in the ceremonial photo-ops.

  • anonymoose

    Dennis Prager is absolutely right in condemning Keith Ellison’s brazen affrontery in demanding that he be allowed to swear his oath of office on a Koran instead of the Holy Bible. However Prager does not go far enough to attack the root of the problem. Ellison’s beliefs make him completely unfit for public office, regardless of how he is sworn in. For it must be understood that Islam is not just a religion — it is also a violent political ideology completely incompatible with the basic notions of American democracy. The House should vote to refuse to seat him. The House has the absolute right to judge the fitness of its members to serve, and it has exercised this privilege in the past, including refusal to seat Communists as members. And Islam is far more egregious than Communism.

  • Laura

    Well put anonymoose. I’m really sick of liberal Jewish groups going out of their way to defend muslims. On the other hand you never see muslims reciprocating, in fact the most vicious anti-Semitism is coming from the muslim community.

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