Dennis Prager

That Dennis Prager is a banal and mediocre blowhard is a bald fact that has not recently been in dispute. Prager has carved out a career as that limited commodity, the token Jewish paleo-conservative. Most often, he can simply be ignored. But he has caused a bit of an uproar with his most recent syndicated effort, awkwardly titled, “America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on.”

Prager takes aim at Ellison, an incoming congressman from Minnesota and the first Muslim elected to the Congress, because he is planning on taking his oath of office with his hand on the Koran instead of the Bible. This ceremonial detail seems not only appropriate, but an invaluable windfall for America’s image in the world at a time when large swaths of Muslim’s abroad believe America to be engaged in a war not against terrorism but against Islam itself.

But Prager sees this act as a “threat to American civilization” because it elevates a book that is not “America’s holiest book.” Furthermore, Prager chargers, it is selfish of Ellison because his insistence on using the Koran sens the message that he does not care what American’s hold dear. And, this is where Prager’s argument bends credulity to the breaking point, it will embolden America’s enemies because “Islamists, rightly or wrongly, see the first sign of the realization of their greatest goal — the Islamicization of America.”

To respond that this is a shockingly unnuanced view of America’s struggle with Islamic terrorism would be to understate things. This is hate speech. However thinly (and pompously) Prager heralds himself as a guardian of American civilization, the America he is trying to protect is simply not the America I want to live in. Prager, wrongheaded though he often is, has a strong grounding in Jewish history and it confounds me how he can blithely dismiss as un-American another religious tradition. It is grotesque. Americanness is not a frozen set of beliefs, values, and traditions. Some, like respect for individual rights, democracy, etc. are permanent and foundational. Others are not. Americanness is an evolving creed, defined by each successive generation.

To its credit, the ADL has sharply rebuked Prager, stating plainly that his article is “intolerant, misinformed and downright un-American.” But it gets better: “Prager’s patriotic prattling is misinformed on the facts, too. No Member of Congress is officially sworn in with a Bible. Under House rules, the official swearing-in ceremony is done in the House chambers, with the Speaker of the House administering the oath of office en masse. No Bibles or other holy books are used at all. Members may, if they choose, also have a private ceremony with family and friends. At these unofficial ceremonies, Members frequently solemnize the event by taking an oath while holding a personal family Bible.”

Prager should apologize.

Explore posts in the same categories: Holy Flurking Shnit!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: