Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Monday, December 04, 2006

First Muslim American Congressman wants to be sworn in on a Koran; wingnuts explode

So newly elected Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), the nation's first Muslim Congressman who I have blogged about before, wants to carry a Koran as he is sworn into office, not a Bible. To certain wingnuts, this makes him everything from Satan to ... the AntiChrist. Because as everyone well knows, the Bible is the holy book of this country and we all live and die and burn in hell by it.

Except that even the historian of the Senate says that no one places their hand on any book in order to be sworn in - it's not a necessary condition:

During official swearing-in ceremonies, elected members don't place their hands on any books. It's up to individual members, however, if they want to carry sacred texts.

"Some members carry a Bible. You don't actually put your hand on a Bible. I can't see how anyone would object to carrying a Quran," Senate historian Don Ritchie said.

David Kuo, Dubya's former top aide and deputy director of Faith Based Initiatives (and apparent hapa) and author of Tempting Faith, an expose on how little respect the Bushies have for their conservative Christian base, also says no in an excellent Colbert-worthy smackdown:

So, a Muslim is coming to the United States House of Representatives and he wants to be sworn into office with his hand on a Koran and not on a Holy Bible. Some conservatives have decided this may well be the end of American civilization. One columnist writes, "He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization." Some people's election loss grief counseling isn't going well.

The writer, Dennis Prager, goes on to argue that this all comes down to "multicultural hubris." After all, "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."

So the Bible is America's holiest book? Was there a vote? Did Oprah decide? Was it Jefferson? And if so was it his version of the Bible? Does that mean it is true of every American citizen? Even Kevin Federline? And if it is true then America, with its indifference to the poor and lust for money and power, would be seriously backsliding and in need of spiritual counseling.

No, the BIble isn't Ameirca' holiest book. America doesn't have a holy book. It does have two holy documents, however. One is called the Constitution. The other is known as the Declaration of Independence. That's it. Book study finished.


Kuo seems to be a man who respects faith - all faiths. I respect that. Not trying to turn him into a saint, but who better to deliver the blow to the Christian right than someone who knows and understands? His HuffPost bio says that "Since coming to Washington in 1990, he has worked with lots of conservative leaders (everyone from Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Bill Bennett to John Ashcroft, Ralph Reed, and Senator Bob Dole). Surprisingly to some he is not known to carry either rabies or a "get out of Gitmo free" card." Can't beat a man with an irreverent sense of humor - he's going to be the Colbert or Kevin Phillips of the religion wars for progressives of faith. (Story hat tip Americablog.)

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