Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 3, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

ELLISON AND THE KORAN....What do you do if you're a newly-elected Muslim congressman who's been criticized for taking the oath of office on a Koran instead of a Bible? You do what Keith Ellison is planning to do. As the Washington Post reports, Ellison won't be using just any old copy of the Koran:

We've learned that the new congressman -- in a savvy bit of political symbolism -- will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson....Jefferson's copy is an English translation by George Sale published in the 1750s; it survived the 1851 fire that destroyed most of Jefferson's collection and has his customary initialing on the pages.

Good for Ellison. Sounds like he's a pretty smart cookie.

As long as we're on the subject, I have to say that this is one of the least explicable "controversies" I've had the pleasure to encounter in the past couple of months. If you had asked me before this episode erupted what book Muslims use to take the oath of office, I would have immediately answered that they'd use a Koran. A Jew? Probably a copy of the Hebrew Bible or the Torah. A Catholic? A copy of the Catholic Bible. Etc. It wouldn't even have occurred to me that they should use anything other than the holy book of their own faith.

But it sure occurred to a few other people who are permanently tuned into the outrage machine. The fever swamp may be small, but it's mighty deep, isn't it?

Kevin Drum 1:51 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (101)

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Comments

1. Nobody takes their official oath on a holy book. That happens during a second, ceremonial oath-taking.

2. Everybody swears to uphold the U.S. Constitution anyway.

What's the problem?

Posted by: pc on January 3, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

As others have pointed out in previous threads discussing this, the reps don't even use books when they're sworn in as a group.

The bibles and such are used only for "reenactment" photos with the Speaker later, if the reps feel like issuing press releases trumpeting their faith.

So the people expressing outrage here are actually pissed that Ellison isn't participating in the self-aggrandizing Christian photo op for the gullible voters back home. That takes praying loudly in the streets to a new low, huh?

Posted by: shortstop on January 3, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I love this "controversy," because only the most extreme Republican wingnuts object to this, and it helps paint Republicans in general as the party of intolerant nutjobs. A helpful reminder to all the sane people of why they voted for Dems last November.

Posted by: Steve on January 3, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

considering that the complainer is one dude...I don't really see how this is a "controversy" worthy of attention.

its like that homophobic guy who shows up at servicemen's funerals with his church. it turns out that his "church" is composed of his wife and kids.

Posted by: Nathan on January 3, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

The brilliant part of this?

Guess which Congressman represents the district containing Jefferson's home, Monticello.

Hint: his initials are V.G.

Posted by: PCash on January 3, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

in other words, in a country of 300 million people you can always find a few wackos to say anything...or even an embarassing member of Congress. its not like Democrats don't usually have some black anti-semitic member of Congress who everyone disowns but gets elected from some urban district.

Posted by: Nathan on January 3, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

You have to draw the line somewhere, otherwise someday the Congressmen would be taking the oath of office with the Ramayana.

Posted by: gregor on January 3, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

As EVERYBODY KNOWS, this country was created in the image of Our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, the only book suitable for swearing is the King James Holy Bible. To use another book is heresy and a grievous insult to Our Lord. Mend your ways and repent NOW, Godless liberals!

Al's Grandpa

Posted by: CT on January 3, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Can't we just get a stack of cash, layer it over with horseshit, and swear the Republicans in on that?

Posted by: olds88 on January 3, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Damn good historical background on how swearing on your own faith's text is a part of our country's tradition, from Head Heeb:

http://headheeb.blogmosis.com/2006/12/virgil_goode_meet_justice_goul.php

Posted by: bubba on January 3, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Next, followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster will be swearing on a plate of noodles.

Posted by: asdfg on January 3, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Heh. Nice move on Ellison's part. A finger in the eye of every hysterical theocrat-cum-cultural warrior who's been bellowing about this non-controversy for far too many days.

Anybody notice that there were two Buddhists elected to Congress as well in November? Do we know what books they used for their ceremonial swearing in? No? I wonder why?

Oh wait, I know why. The nitwits who give even two seconds notice to these sorts of manufactured controversies are bigoted douchebags who are threatened by the presence of a Muslim in the American halls of power.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on January 3, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Steve-
Don't you understand? Allowing Godless heathen brown people to live in this country will destroy the very fabric of our theocracy.

Why do you hate Jeebus so much?

Posted by: egbert on January 3, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Why does Thomas Jefferson hate America?

Posted by: CJColucci on January 3, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

When I'm elected to congress, I'm going to use Jefferson's version of the New Testament.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 3, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Someone should ask Orrin Hatch if he uses the Book of Mormon in any of his swearing-in ceremonies.

Posted by: joe bob on January 3, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Ah, Steve"?

Is that like "Eh, Steve" from www.homestarrunner.com's "Crazy Cartoon"?

I guess it's good that Steve's getting some attention now that he's gone...

Posted by: PCash on January 3, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Ah Steve. Don't you know our prostates will soon be prostrate before the Muslim God? This is playing football with a political football. I treble for my country.

Posted by: egbert's other on January 3, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Game, set, match: Ellison.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on January 3, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's reference to the "Catholic Bible" is a telling detail I haven't seen pointed out before. Until very recent decades, when ecumenism softened these things, the King James Bible -- revered by many Protestants just short of idolatry -- was an anathema to the largest Christian denomination in the country, which swore by the Douay-Rheims version. I would like to hear the take of The Outraged on that.

Posted by: Ken D. on January 3, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

ER:

My first instinct is On the Origin of Species, or maybe An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Although the Constitution, to match the official oath, would probably be most appropriate.

If it was just to chees off the wingnuts, I would have to go with The Communist Manifesto or the Satanic Bible or something similar.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on January 3, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

I would have said that swearing on sonething that you don't hold sacred is useless.

This means that your average Republican should be swearing on a Sears or WalMart Catalog, those being holy books for their religion -- but that opens a new can of worms.

Posted by: Scorpio on January 3, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

The only reason Thomas Jefferson owned a Koran was so he could know his enemy.

This whole controversy could be avoided if we simply passed a law mandating which book was to be used. The King James Bible would be the most appropriate because it is most in accord with American values. Anyone who doesn't like it, doesn't have to run for office.

Posted by: Al on January 3, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

These cranks are all over the place.

A letter writer to our local paper complained that Ellison isn't doing the honorable thing that atheists do - use nothing when pledging an oath. Instead he is spitting on the Bible by using a Koran.

So I guess in that writer's eye you've got Christian - good, athiest neutral, Moslem - bad.

Actually I'm suprised she didn't call the atheist bad, too.

Posted by: Tripp on January 3, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, but if it's a translation then it's actually not a real Koran.

Posted by: mg56 on January 3, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

And doesn't anybody remember the West Wing episode when President Bartlet couldn't decide on which Bible to use at his inauguration and at the last minute they couldn't find one and Charlie finally found a bible in the House library that had been stolen from a hotel?

Point is, while Charlie was chasing around, Josh told Bartlet that the Constitution does not require him to swear on anything in particular.

Bartlet: "Really?"
Josh: "You could swear on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue if you wanted."

So, here's the challenge: if your Congress critter could swear his oath on any printed material in the world - EXCEPT the Bible, Torah, Koran, Book of Mormon, etc. - what would it be?

Mark Foley speculations restricted to current residents of his former district only, please.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on January 3, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Great Minds, Yellow Dog - I started and ended my post on this with tennis metaphors.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 3, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Steve,

Jefferson was wildly pro-immigrant. Thought the US should be the asylum for everyone who stubbed their toe on a blood sausage. He even espoused illegal immigration if the legislature tried to set up limits. His mother was a Cockney whore and his perchant for black girls is well known.

This changes nothing. If Goode has any balls he'll come out swinging and take down Jefferson too.

-- Egbert

Posted by: B on January 3, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Imitation as sincere flattery, Global. Apologies.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on January 3, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Oh no, no apology necessary! It was on another site even.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 3, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Scorpio:

The more erudite members get The Wealth of Nations or The Prince. Maybe Atlas Shrugged for the libertarian set.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on January 3, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Barring 'holy' books I think most congress members would pick the Constitution, or some other US political document like the Bill of Rights.

But - if they couldn't choose a religious or political text then my guess is it would be something to do with their family. We humans have a tradition of honoring our ancestors. Well, at least we used to. Now we use them for political purposes and send the bill to our grandchildren.

Posted by: Tripp on January 3, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Al (if that is your real name),

Obviously TJ owned and read the book to get a handle on how to stave off terrorist attacks on US commercial interests. Perhaps Ellison can loan it to the WH when he's done.

Posted by: brent on January 3, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Until very recent decades, when ecumenism softened these things, the King James Bible -- revered by many Protestants just short of idolatry --
Posted by: Ken D. on January 3, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

No - there ARE still many people who feel that way about KJV. And no, it's not just short of idolatry. It is actual idolatry. Any bible is a "graven image". Except maybe an audiobook version. Read by Sean Connery.

This means that your average Republican should be swearing on a Sears or WalMart Catalog,
Posted by: Scorpio on January 3, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Or the Wall Street Journal. Or one of Ayn Rand's atrocities.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 3, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

He should swear over a Spider-Man comic book - not even a vintage issue - just a plain ol' issue from the 7-11.

Posted by: rusrus on January 3, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

So, here's the challenge: if your Congress critter could swear his oath on any printed material in the world - EXCEPT the Bible, Torah, Koran, Book of Mormon, etc. - what would it be?

My Congressman, John Culberson, would probably use TRMPAC's checkbook.

Posted by: RWB on January 3, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

fake Egbert:

No, Jefferson's mum was an aristocratic Randolph. It was his dad who was Welsh and middling.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'd swear on one of my favorite postwar literary novels -- but being as how most of them are considered postmodern, that would be an affront to the de-centeredness of textuality :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

Yeah, I couldn't find any appropriate colonial slang that a 19th century wingnut would use for an aristrocratic immigrant. I think I'll just give up on the sock puppetry.

Posted by: B on January 3, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Another interesting take on this right-wing-invented non-controversey is that Virgil Goode doesn't say which version of the Bible he thinks Representatives should pose for pictures with after they take their real, secular oath of office.

The King James Version of the Bible (KJV) was originally produced in 1611 to conform with the doctrines of the Church of England. It was intended to consolidate the King's authority and replace other, more controversial English translations like the Wycliffe, Tyndale and Geneva Bibles that energized separatist Protestants throughout the Reformation. The KJV remains one of the most popular Bibles in the US today.

Does Virgil Goode want the U.S. Congress to take oaths of office with their hands resting on a document designed to validate the King's authority? Is all this a secret plot by the GOP to restore the monarchy?

Makes sense -- Rep. Goode hails from the state that became the first Crown colony in the new world (after the King seized the bankrupt Jamestown colony's assets in 1624). And George Bush has certainly acted like an absolute monarch these last six years.

More likely, though, is that Virgil is trying in his own bigoted, ham-handed fashion to make the Democratic party out to be a bunch of anti-Christan secular humanists.

I'm guessing this won't sit well with folks in Charlottesville (home of UVA, the legacy of Thomas Jefferson). It also sets back the efforts of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce by about 60 years.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on January 3, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

I, personally, see nothing wrong in one using a book about one's faith.

Did not Shrub use "Where the money was, a memoir of a bank robber", by Willie Sutton and ghost writer?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 3, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'd use the Iliad but I've been dead for a while. Does that disqualify me?

Posted by: thersites on January 3, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Next, followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster will be swearing on a plate of noodles.

If they can manage to get elected, why not?

If you don't like it, don't vote for them.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on January 3, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

love this "controversy," because only the most extreme Republican wingnuts object to this

Perhaps, but these folks are the core GOP supporters. All mainstream GOPers (with one exception whose name escapes me) have refused to distance themselves from Goode's atavistic bigotry, lest they turn off this core.

Posted by: Disputo on January 3, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Yellow Dog on January 3, 2007 at 3:04 PM:

So, here's the challenge..

If it was on non-printed material, I'd say that it would have to be on the heads of their own children. As for printed material, you could use the actual Constitution (with protective covering).

Probably the closest some will ever come to actually reading it....

Mark Foley speculations restricted to current residents of his former district only, please.

Damn. Now I can't mention Foley swearing on the NAMBLA charter.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 3, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Right today I think I'd use Fiasco.

After this mess is a dim, bad memory, I'd use Letters of E.B. White.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 3, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, his US Representative would be Virgil Goode.

Posted by: KH on January 3, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Thersites, your dead body's as good as Ajax's. Swear on whatever you want.

I'm hoping someone out there's being sworn in on a dog-eared copy of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, but I'm not betting on it.

Posted by: PCash on January 3, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he would be representing Albermarle County and Goode would be a city council crank.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 3, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

not bad, PCash but I think Cal Gal wins!

Posted by: thersites on January 3, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

I would use the Yellow Pages, I guess.

Posted by: craigie on January 3, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

W.O.W.

I have seen a lot of manufactured scandals and controversies by various members of the GOP over the years but this one has got to be the most idiotic one of them all, which when considering the competition takes real doing. Clearly Rep. Goode has not bothered to read the Constitution which he is sworn to protect and follow otherwise he would be aware that there is no religious test for holding elected office, period. If one wants to take an additional oath on a religiously/spiritually binding basis on top of the one that actually swears you in and grants you the position and powers that go with being a Congressperson that is fine, but there is zero legal obligation/requirement to do so. Then we get to the point of swearing an oath on a holy book in the first place. One does so to commit one's soul as well as one's body/life to keeping the oath in question and to do so upon any book other than the one(s) of your own religious faith is by nature nullifying the oath. So for a Christian the Bible, the Muslim the Koran and the Jew the Torah is perfectly consistent and when you get right down to it necessary to have a binding religious oath sworn.

I hate to say this but the only way I can read Goode's actions are as either/both rampant xenophobia in action and/or an intent to try and brand Dems as the party of terrorism sympathizers by their acceptance within their party and respect for the faith of an Islamic Congressperson (the first at that). That this is to also link the idea of Muslim to both immigrant and to terrorist in the minds of the wider public not incidentally making by comparison the GOP the party that will protect Americans from the big bad wolf out to kill and destroy them all. This should have been denounced in the strongest possible terms by Bush and by the GOP leadership if they want anyone to ever believe that they are not in a war with Islam but only with Islamic extremists willing to embrace violence against innocents/civilians. This is something Bush has claimed was the case since 9/11/01, yet the deafening silence on the American political right by many of its brightest/loudest luminaries in condemning this stupidity of Goode's speaks volumes for their own real beliefs regarding Islam and Muslims. There are times when what one doesn't say tells people more truth than anything that one does say, and this is a classic example of that where George Walker Bush, the GOP, and American movement conservatives truly are on this matter IMHO.

Posted by: Scotian on January 3, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

"The only reason Thomas Jefferson owned a Koran was so he could know his enemy.

This whole controversy could be avoided if we simply passed a law mandating which book was to be used. The King James Bible would be the most appropriate because it is most in accord with American values. Anyone who doesn't like it, doesn't have to run for office.
Posted by: Al on January 3, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK"

Have you ever heard of 'no religious test for office" rule?

Posted by: rtaycher1987 on January 3, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

"If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he would be representing Albermarle County and Goode would be a city council crank."

I'd like to believe that, but I see no basis for your optimism.

Posted by: CJColucci on January 3, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

PCash wrote: "I'm hoping someone out there's being sworn in on a dog-eared copy of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, but I'm not betting on it."

Or Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 3, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't read every post on this thread, so these points may already have been made. But here goes - (1) Gordon Smith, a Republican from Utah, was sworn in on the Book of Mormon and no one so much as batted an eyelash about that. This is anti-Muslim bigotry at its worst. (2) This ritual is ceremonial only, the real swearing in of new Congressmen and -women involves no "holy book" whatsoever, and (3) The Constitution doesn't even mention the Bible, so where do these right-wing clowns come off thinking our country was founded on biblical precepts?

Again, I apologize if these points have already been made.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 3, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

asdfg wrote: Next, followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster will be swearing on a plate of noodles.

Not a bad idea. At least you can eat the noodles after the swearing in.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 3, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Nice.

Posted by: aaron on January 3, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

What would be the point of swearing on a book that isn't important to you, anyhow?

This is cool. While the Koran is not to be translated to be revered - it can be translated to help infidels understand and approach.

This particular book represents our country's founding father's belief that we should understand each other.

I love it ^-^

Posted by: Crissa on January 3, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin and all,

Are you nuts? Many of the right know the First Amendment perfectly well... and want it overturned! This controversy is nothing more than an outgrowth of that. They think there are acceptable religions and non-acceptable religions. And they'd be perfectly happy if the First Amendment said that.

Posted by: K on January 3, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Gordon Smith, a Republican from Utah,"

Unfortunately, he's from my state of Oregon, and will be gone in the '08 election cycle, when Oregonians look past his image of "moderate" Republican, which he projects only as required for political survival in this fairly blue state. Nothing against his Mormonism, of course (but has anyone actually read the book of Mormon? That's some stuff that beats L Ron Hubbard's Scientology for whacky.)

Posted by: in search of tossed limes on January 3, 2007 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Why am I not surprised that a Virginia Congressman is the source of this embarassment? Well, to start, many years ago, when I used Michie's Virginia Code annotations to review case summaries on personal-property law, guess what I found: all the Virginia cases on runaway slaves, whose chattel status allowed the Old Dominion to develop its law to a full flowering. Then there is the opposition of native son George Mason to a bicameral legislature, in which he opined that the scheme for a house of representatives would give rise to a "factious, bawling sort of fellow, content to make a noise for four or five miles around."

Posted by: biosparite on January 3, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

If Thomas Jefferson were alive today...
He would own Ellison's ass, and we wouldn't need to have this discussion.

Sorry to be rude. Lots of people admire Jeffestion. I ain't one of them, though sometimes I wonder if he isn't the perfect symbol for our America; lots of fine rhetoric about the dignity of "man", and then bangin' a slave girl on the side.

Posted by: thersites on January 3, 2007 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

" its not like Democrats don't usually have some black anti-semitic member of Congress who everyone disowns..."

Am I the only one who resents that disgusting racism?

Posted by: Bob M on January 3, 2007 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

...people admire Jeffestion
and some admire Jefferson, too!

Posted by: thersites on January 3, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Wow--I just quoted the wise, wonderful Thomas Jefferson on the previous post about Maliki stepping down.
Here I come to this one--Listen to Jefferson:
"Clergymen told their parishioners that a vote for Jefferson was a vote against Christianity, and warned that if he won they would have to hide their bibles in their wells...Jefferson was too wily to lay himself open on that score...he finally moved to write he would never court the clergy by offers of compromise...the Episcopalian and Congregationalist churches in particular , he noted, still hoped to be named the established church of the US...then Jefferson wrote, with that elegant and eloquent fierceness-- And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar for God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

From a great book I've been reading--Jefferson: An Intimate History, by Fawn M. Brodie

No wonder this great man, Thomas Jefferson, wisely thought that selecting one religion would constitute tyranny. Don't you just love the indebtedness to Jefferson's passion for the freedom that this country is (supposed to be) all about!!!

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 3, 2007 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

So, here's the challenge: if your Congress critter could swear his oath on any printed material in the world - EXCEPT the Bible, Torah, Koran, Book of Mormon, etc. - what would it be?

If we're lucky, de Tocqeville's Democracy in America. The Federalist Papers would be nice too.

Posted by: Claude Muncey on January 3, 2007 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK
in other words, in a country of 300 million people you can always find a few wackos to say anything...or even an embarassing member of Congress. its not like Democrats don't usually have some black anti-semitic member of Congress who everyone disowns but gets elected from some urban district.

Its interesting that when confronted with absolutely indefensible conduct from a Republican which he can't find a way to obfuscate or deny, Nathan turns instead to asserting an equivalence with Democrats based on same vague characterization with no concrete referent.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 3, 2007 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

lots of fine rhetoric about the dignity of "man", and then bangin' a slave girl on the side.

Can we put away the anti-B&D bigotry...?

Posted by: Disputo on January 3, 2007 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

in other words, in a country of 300 million people you can always find a few wackos to say anything...or even an embarassing member of Congress.

Leadership is responsible for setting the tone. Virgil Goode is setting the scene for hate crimes.

I just got finished listening to last month's "This American Life" story on a Muslim American family whose daughter, then in 4th grade, a beautiful and popular girl, was gradually turned into a class pariah and eventually bullied to the point where she and her family had to move to a different town. The fires of hatred were stoked by a "teaching exercise" on the first anniversary of 9/11 which involved a district-wide text explaining that many Muslim people hate Americans and want to kill them. The girl's public-school teacher was also an evangelical Christian who told the class that non-Christians would go to hell, and that only the blood of Jesus could save them.

The case eventually, fortunately, led to Justice Department action against the school district, including mandatory diversity seminars for teachers; and the girl's mother, who was born and raised American, kept saying "I have to think of this as a fluke, that this isn't really what America is about." But of course it's not a fluke; this kind of shit is the very opposite of America's ideals, but it reflects the ignorance, religious zealotry and hateful xenophobia of a very substantial portion of the American population. These people are out there in huge numbers, they are a danger to America, and we need to fight them in the voting booths and educate their children so that eventually there aren't any more of them.

Posted by: brooksfoe on January 3, 2007 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

"The King James Bible would be the most appropriate because it is most in accord with American values." - Al

Stoned any adulterers lately?

Posted by: brooksfoe on January 3, 2007 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

For the loony left, any book will do as long as it's not the Bible!

I actually live in Ellison's district (Minneapolis, MN). He's a typical Dem sleazebag with a sordid history of traffic warrants and income tax hijinx.

The local papers are already all over it, and are going to have a field day as his term goes on.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on January 3, 2007 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

this kind of shit is the very opposite of America's ideals, but it reflects the ignorance, religious zealotry and hateful xenophobia of a very substantial portion of the American population. - brooksfoe

For the loony left, any book will do as long as it's not the Bible! - sportsfan79

I rest my case.

Posted by: brooksfoe on January 3, 2007 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'd swear in on a copy of "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret".

Posted by: otto on January 3, 2007 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK
The local papers are already all over it... sportsfan79 at 9:33 PM
Here is the Star Tribune's story. It's pretty straightforward. I searched letters to ed but didn't find any commentary pro or con. Seems like it's no big deal to the rational citizens of Minneapolis. Posted by: Mike on January 3, 2007 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan doesn't get to Uptown much.

Posted by: Disputo on January 3, 2007 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Hollywood Wives! That's what I'd swear in on. Or maybe Duke Cunningham's indictment or Jefferson's frozen $90,000. That would be so kewl.

Posted by: otto on January 3, 2007 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

I'd probably like to get sworn in on "The Story of O".

Read into that whatever you like.

Posted by: jprichva on January 3, 2007 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'd probably like to get sworn in on "The Story of O". -- jprichva

I thought of that too. There are so many good, irreverent options...The Story of O, Valley of the Dolls, Candide, the screenplay for The Candidate.

Posted by: Professor Chaos Switched the Soup on January 3, 2007 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

I watched Gates being sworn in, and the book used did not look like a Bible, ...anyone know what it was?

Something by Theo. LeSieg?

Posted by: oxo beppo on January 3, 2007 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

jprichva:

The Story of O.? Then sheesh, why hasn't Le Sacre du Printemps made you, like, a total Stravinsky freak? Talk about musical S&M !

My choices would be Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (heh, big surpise there), William Gaddis' The Recognitions, Don DeLillo's Underworld -- hell, even David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest (there's something singularly compelling in a near-future dystopia about a Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad) ...

Of course, Bush prolly fooled us all and swore in on a copy of the poem Invictus.

You know -- the one Timmy McVeigh recited before he died -- about being true to your beliefs even when the whole world tells you you're full of shit up to your follicles :(

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 4, 2007 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

I'd get sworn in with a copy of Hustler, accompanied by some cheesy porn movie sountrack music -- because unlike some people in Washington, I believe in being honest with people about my profession.

Posted by: Ron Jeremy, Adult Film Legend on January 4, 2007 at 5:15 AM | PERMALINK

Bob,
Re: Infinite Jest. I don't know anyone who's been able to lift it, let alone read it.

Posted by: jprichva on January 4, 2007 at 5:27 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a Mormon. If Mitt beats John McCain and his Democratic opponents or he becomes a Vice-Presidential nominee, what book does Virgil think Mitt should pose with for the oath of office?

For someone with a law degree from UVA Goode is such a hillbilly. Virginians really wasted their taxpayer dollars on that education.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on January 4, 2007 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

It is worth noting that in the Islamic religious tradition, a translation of the Quran is not considered a Quran as such. Only the Arabic is the Quran.

Jefferson's translation, then, was of ... well some further queer symbolic value.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on January 4, 2007 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

It was not Jefferson's translation - It was translated by the Englishman, George Sales. Jefferson purchased the book at a time when he was interested in reconciling differences between events in history books and religious books. He had a large collection of books from various religions.

Perhaps, there was also an interest in knowing more about his enemies, as he had been involved in fighting the Muslims of the Barbary Coast in the undeclared First Barbary War. But, Jefferson, unlike the dunce who resides at 1600 presently, was extremely interested in expanding his knowledge.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 4, 2007 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Nathan: considering that the complainer is one dude...I don't really see how this is a "controversy" worthy of attention.

Of course you wouldn't, cause you are an idiot.

There is a huge difference between the ranting opinions of a random wackjob, such as yourself, and a sitting congressman who as an elected government official "speaks" for a large group of Americans.

Posted by: Google_This on January 4, 2007 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

It is worth noting that in the Islamic religious tradition, a translation of the Quran is not considered a Quran as such. Only the Arabic is the Quran.

True, but as even the preface to that 1734 translation notes, there's no bar on translations, given that the language of the Qur'an was difficult even for many Arabs to read in the early days of Islam.

As an African-American convert, Ellison presumably read the Qur'an in translation before he learned the archaic classical Arabic of the original. So I don't think it's problematic at all.

(Anyone know what Jefferson used for his inaugurations? I doubt it was a bible.)

Posted by: ahem on January 4, 2007 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps, there was also an interest in knowing more about his enemies, as he had been involved in fighting the Muslims of the Barbary Coast in the undeclared First Barbary War.

His copy is the 1764 octavo, which Jefferson bought in 1765 at the age of twenty-two, long before the First Barbary War. It was probably related to his legal studies -- the same motivation which led to the controversial 'Muhammad as law-giver' statue in the Supreme Court.

Posted by: ahem on January 4, 2007 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

ahem,

Thank you - a little sloppy on speed research this morning.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 4, 2007 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Just goes to show you that the Dems are now the Party of the Intelligent Voter, while the Repukeliscum are the Party of the Total Morons and Fools.

It is just the funniest thing to watch this.

Posted by: POed Lib on January 4, 2007 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

indebtedness to Jefferson's passion for the freedom

ride, Sally ride!

Posted by: thersites on January 4, 2007 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"There is a huge difference between the ranting opinions of a random wackjob, such as yourself, and a sitting congressman who as an elected government official "speaks" for a large group of Americans."

er, no. he only speaks for himself. did Cynthia McKinney speak for you?

Posted by: Nathan on January 4, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan: did Cynthia McKinney speak for you?

I didn't live in her district and didn't vote for her, idiot, so no.

What part of representative government don't you understand?

Funny how conservative politicians and their supporters are always telling us that they (GOP politicians) are representing their constituents interests when they speak and act as members of Congress, but the minute that meme becomes a liability, they deny it and act as if a member of Congress represesnts only himself or herself.

Posted by: Google_This on January 4, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

And interestingly enough, wasn't it you who attributed to the entire American left not only the statements of the Roosevelt administration, but also its actions during WWII, even those members of the American left that didn't vote for him?

Yep.

Now, why wasn't Roosevelt speaking and acting for himself?

Typical conservative double standard.

Posted by: Google_This on January 4, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I haven't had a chance to read this whole thread but it's really a pretty explicable controversy.

The religious right (with the aid of associated NeoCons) has been working hard for many years to remove all traces of the "Enlightenment" from the popular understanding of why the founders wrote the Constitution the way they did. Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau--all dirty words for these guys.

The Ellison issue stems from this controversy, and really does a nice job of pointing it up.

Posted by: erica on January 4, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Google_This:

ah, so what you're actually saying is that Goode speaks for about 55% of one Congressional District in Virginia. Fine. and this is newsworthy how? indicative of Republicans, how?

Posted by: Nathan on January 4, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it newsworthy when Michael Moore speaks, as he clearly speaks for no one but himself?

Why is it newsworthy when former Sen. John Edwards speaks, as he clearly speaks for no one but himself?

Why is it newsworthy when Barbara Streisand speaks?

Etc., etc., etc.

And yet, conservatives keep on fuming, spewing bilious retorts, and ranting anytime any of the above speak!

And conservative news outlets report it!

And conservative commentors on this very blog consistently refer to such comments!

And considering that Goode's anti-Islamic rant mirrors that of a large number on the American Right (he's hardly a lone voice as you dishonesty state), especially within the Religious Right, who've been core supporters of the GOP and who the GOP has returned support to, I'd say his comments are clearly indicative of a very strong anti-Islamic faction within the Republican Party and its supporters.

Posted by: Google_This on January 4, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

And while that may not be new, it is news worthy of reporting and debating!

In America, the real America rather than the one fantasized about by the zealots on the Right, where tolerance, especially religious tolerance, is built into our Nation's core through the Constitution, intolerance is a noteworthy issue, especially when expressed by a member of the nation's government, a person with the power to help enact laws that could give substance to such intolerance.

Posted by: Google_This on January 4, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

From FoxNews.com: Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who sponsored a resolution last year that called for troops to begin to redeploy from Iraq by the year's end, said he could support a temporary surge with conditions.

Why is this news!

Levin doesn't speak for anybody but himself, so what's the point in reporting what he's said!

Hmmmmm . . .

Nathan: ah, so what you're actually saying is that Goode speaks for about 55% of one Congressional District in Virginia. Fine. and this is newsworthy how? indicative of Republicans, how?

So, what you are saying is that only Bush and Cheney can be quoted by the media and only Bush and Cheney statements are news, since they are the only nationally elected individuals in the country.

Fine.

Either that or the media can't quote anybody because no one speaks for all Americans and therefore no statement by anybody in America is newsworthy!

Posted by: Google_This on January 4, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

When I first read about this "controversy", I sent an email to my own representative in support of the freedom to use any sacred instrument of choice. I closed the letter with a statement that I had since repeated in a letter to the Washington Post (regrettably unpublished) that I would be most assured of the sincerity of a congressman's oath if it were performed with one hand on a stack of money.

Posted by: Daniel Kim on January 5, 2007 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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