Should Keith Ellison swear-in on the Qur'an
Keith Ellison (pictured left) made history during this mid-term election by becoming the first Muslim to be elected to the US Congress. Read more about him here.
Ever since his election the right wing media has been relentlessly attacking him. And that includes CNN, where Headline News has given Glen Beck, a crude talk-radio host a primetime slot to rant in a show that doubles as "news." Beck had Congressman-elect Ellison on his program recently. I couldn't believe that CNN would air this!
“I have been nervous,” said Beck, “about this interview with you because what I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.’”
For an opinion piece by Jeff Cohen of the media watchdog group FAIR on Glen Beck and others like him who provide legitimacy for wars click here.
Keith Ellison is an African American and has moderate views on the Middle East. He recently indiated that he does not want to swear-in on the Bible, but on the Qur'an as I believe, is his right to do.
Now comes Dennis Prager, another right-wing radio host, who has a column this morning in www.townhall.com -- a right wing blogsite suggesting that America not Keith Ellison decides which book he will place his hand as he takes the oath of office on January 3rd. Prager, of course, does not say which America he is going to ask and how he is going to ask it! That is to say his entire tirade is based on an outmoded view of a monolithic America (if ever there was one!)
Prof. Eugene Volokh of the UCLA School of Law has written a point-by-point rebuttal to Prager in the National Review online. On presidential swearing-ins he reminds us that Presidents Franklin Pierce and Herbert Hoover (a Quaker) didn’t swear at all, but rather affirmed. If a Bible was present it wouldn’t have been used as a swearing device. Nixon, also a Quaker, did swear, apparently on two Bibles. This didn’t seem to help!
His concluding two paragraphs are worthy of quote:
Much folly has been urged in the name of multiculturalism. But this is no reason to dismiss the core notion that a nation should both create a common culture and leave people with the freedom to retain important aspects of other cultures — especially religious cultures. That notion is deeply American, and expressly enshrined in our Constitution. If it is “political correctness,” it is so only in the sense that it’s a political notion, and a correct one. It has served us well, even when dealing with religious groups that were once hated and seen as incompatible with American values, such as Catholics.
We ought not blindly accept the legitimacy of other cultures’ beliefs. But the Constitution says that we can’t demand complete surrender to our majority culture — especially its religious beliefs — either in “personal life” or in public life.
This will be an interesting conversation leading upto January.