Well, I’m taking some liberty with this blog post title. I do indeed own a copy of the Quran, but I can’t find it at the moment. I’d be pleased to swear an oath on it, though. Just like the first Muslim member of Congress, Keith Ellison, is intending to do next month.
Of course, the difference between Ellison and me is that I’d be equally happy to place my hand on a Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching, or any other supposedly holy book and attest to whatever someone wanted me to affirm. I wouldn’t care which book it was, because I don’t wholeheartedly believe in any of them.
But Ellison does believe in the Quran and he has every right to be sworn in with it. Some right-wing crazies disagree. Dennis Prager is their prime xenophobic mouthpiece, arguing in his nonsensical “Multiculturalism run amok” rant:
Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison's favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress.
No, Mr. Prager, I don’t forgive you. I belong to that reasonable zone of the blogosphere where you’re considered a dumbass. Along with everyone else who thinks that the United States should be a Christian nation that looks down on other religious views (including the view that rejects all religions).
Prager, I’m confident, is a dying breed. It won’t be long before his “the Bible is America’s official holy book” prejudice seems as anachronistically distasteful as “blacks are inferior to whites.” After all, fundamentalism is religious racism, as someone whose perspective I deeply respect (me) has said.
Racists erroneously believe that there is proof one race is superior to another. Fundamentalists erroneously believe that there is proof one religion is superior to another.
Thus there’s a natural affinity between fundamentalism and racism. This is one reason, among many, why fundamentalism in any form—Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, whatever—can’t be tolerated by tolerant people.
Most people in this country are Christians. Most people in Saudi Arabia are Muslims. That’s almost entirely an accident of birth. If Dennis Prager had been born in Saudi Arabia to Muslim parents, it’s virtually certain that he’d be praising the Quran rather than the Bible.
Now, I realize that most people in this country are more tolerant of other faiths than Prager and his narrow minded ilk. But what bothers me is that Prager’s attitude is tolerated to any extent by Christian believers and Republican faithful. How can anyone agree with this statement of his?
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.
I have no idea what Prager is talking about. “Unifying value system”? I assume he means the Bible, the book that each and every Congressional crook took the oath of office on before trashing the only genuine unifying value system I’m aware of: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
That isn’t American. It’s universal.
I wonder how Prager would feel if a Christian legislator in a predominantly Muslim country was forced to swear an oath on the Quran. I bet he’d be up in arms, blathering on about religious freedom.
Golden Rule, Mr. Prager. Think Golden Rule.