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December 5, 2006
When Muslims Decide The Composition Of Holocaust Panels ...

... then we will truly have lost the war on terror. Yesterday CAIR issued a statement demanding the removal of Dennis Prager from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council for a matter completely unrelated to the Holocaust. Prager had objected to newly-elected Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison's plans to use a Qur'an for his oath of office rather than the Bible:

In a syndicated column last week, Mr. Prager asserted that a new Democratic congressman from Minnesota, Keith Ellison, was tearing at the bulwarks of American society by seeking to use the Muslim holy book at his swearing-in next month. "He should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization," Mr. Prager wrote. "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."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, known as Cair, said yesterday that Mr. Prager's comments were so outrageous that he should be removed from the Holocaust board, which oversees the Holocaust museum in Washington. "No one who holds such bigoted, intolerant, and divisive views should be in a policy-making position at a taxpayer-funded institution that seeks to educate Americans about the destructive impact hatred has had, and continues to have, on every society," the group said.

Mr. Prager also came under fire from the Anti-Defamation League, which called his statement "intolerant, misinformed, and downright un-American." The ADL stopped short of calling for Mr. Prager's ouster from the Holocaust panel, but took particular aim at the commentator's suggestion that allowing Mr. Ellison to use the Koran would do more to harm America's fabric than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

I didn't write about Prager's column when it appeared, but Mitch and I discussed it at length during our Northern Alliance Radio show this weekend. The callers kept all four lines lit during the entire show on this topic, and we wound up spending an hour and a half on the subject. Unfortunately, the podcast hasn't been set up yet at Townhall, but hopefully it will go on the site sometime today.

Prager, who usually gets it right, got this issue spectacularly wrong. He wrote that any Congressman not willing to swear an oath on the Bible should not serve in Congress, and that the American fabric would suffer its worst damage since 9/11 if Ellison used the Qur'an instead of the Bible. This is utter nonsense. In the first place, the entire issue is somewhat moot since members have one ceremony where they all take the oath of office as a group on the floor of the House. The rules of the House, furthermore, allows for the use of an "affirmation" for those choosing not to swear their oaths as a religious preference -- which demonstrates that America does have a tradition of tolerance for the needs of other religions in its processes. Quakers in particular take advantage of that option, although Richard Nixon swore his oath when elected as President.

Besides, if using a religious text for an oath has any significance at all -- and our experience with courts and politics strongly suggests there isn't much -- one would suppose that it would have to be a religious text with significance to the person swearing the oath. Atheists would not feel bound by the power of Divine retribution if they swore their oath on the Bible and then broke it later. Similarly, Christians would not feel much responsibility for protecting the honor of the Qur'an if they swore their oath on that text. Why wouldn't we want Ellison to swear his oath on the one religious text he holds sacred, if we want him to feel some responsibility for acting in its defense by fulfilling his oath?

The use of religious texts in oaths of office makes little difference in any case. Ask Nixon, if you want, or Alcee Hastings, who swore his oath on the Bible and then took bribes and covered it up. He then took the oath of office for Congress after Congress stripped him of his position on the bench. Does anyone besides Nancy Pelosi believe he took it seriously?

Nonetheless, Prager's opinion on Ellison has no bearing on the Holocaust Commission, and this represents a despicable attempt by Muslims to dictate to Jews how they should remember the Holocaust. Many of the groups represented by CAIR -- and certainly a large percentage of Muslims worldwide -- reject the notion that the Holocaust ever occurred. Some of them wish Hitler had finished the job, notably Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Islamic nations such as Iran actively work towards that end to this day, and CAIR utters nary a word against Muslims who support them.

When Muslims fully recognize the historical fact of the Holocaust and reject anti-Semitism, then we can take note of their ideas on how to staff Holocaust memorial panels. Until then, CAIR and its allies represent the same problem as the Nazis in that regard, and any attempt to influence the composition of memorial committees should be soundly rejected.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 5, 2006 6:03 AM

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» Web Reconnaissance for 12/05/2006 from The Thunder Run
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention. [Read More]

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» CAIR Wants Prager Fired From the Holocaust Council from Webloggin
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» When Muslims Decide The Composition Of Holocaust Panels ... from Bill's Bites
I couldn't agree more. I have a lot of respect for Dennis Prager but he's all wet on this one. [Aside: Dennis is Jewish, which puts his insistence on the use of a Christian Bible in an interesting light.] On the other hand, the composition of the Holoc... [Read More]

Tracked on December 5, 2006 3:15 PM


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