Swear With My Foot Up Your Ass

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Memo to Dennis Prager: YOU ARE DUMB. GOTCHA.

When I voted for Keith Ellison as my congressman, I did so for a number of reasons. His liberal bonafides. The pettiness of the attacks against him. But first and foremost was that I knew Keith Ellison would, like ten items in Nat X's list, make The Man nervous.

He's black! He's Muslim! He's a Congressman! I'd have settled for him just making Trent Lott very uncomfortable in a Capitol hallway or bathroom or something, but the guy's not even sworn in yet and he's succeeding beyond my wildest dreams. Admittedly, the "drawing out and exposing morons for the scum that they are" part is a bit of a pipe dream, because it seems like every time the morons get exposed for the scum that they are, they get enough morons defending them that they end up winning elections. Still.

Which is not to say that Dennis Prager and the American Family Association aren't off to a rip-roaring start. You see, apparently, Keith Ellison decided to use a copy of the Quran as part of his swearing-in ceremony. Right-wing radio host Dennis Prager learned of this, and decided that Keith Ellison was undermining American civilization. This isn't the usual exaggeration I tend to use around this point in a column, either. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization."

I shit you not. And I love his "I'm not a racist, but..." equivalent he uses. There's no American hostility toward the Koran, you see. It's just that the mere presence of the book near a swearing-in ceremony could destroy our civilization. That's all.

His reasoning is thus: Every elected official ever has sworn on the Bible. Ergo, swearing on the Bible isn't just a reflection of the fact that we only elect Christians and Jews. It's a fundamental aspect of American culture. And by using a Quran, Ellison is thumbing his nose at American culture. Qurans are, apparently, the flies in the religious soup. If Ellison gets to show his off, soon everybody will want one.

It's a ridiculous argument, made all the weaker by the fact that not every elected official swears on the Bible, and congressmen don't actually swear on any book at all during the official ceremony. But Prager doesn't want to merely set the record for most specious fucking argument of 2006. No. He's aiming to set a new high-water mark. He wants to go down in history as the "brain" behind the single dumbest argument of the decade. That's the only possible reason he could have given 110% with this doozy:

"Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress. Would they allow him to choose Hitler's "Mein Kampf," the Nazis' bible, for his oath? And if not, why not? On what grounds will those defending Ellison's right to choose his favorite book deny that same right to a racist who is elected to public office?

Where to begin? It's like a Whack-A-Mole machine with all nine moles stuck in the upright and locked position. First, we don't have to imagine a racist elected to Congress. He just got voted Minority Whip. Second, while all Nazis are racists, not all racists are Nazis. You know, like how all racists vote Republican? Doesn't mean all Republicans are racists.

And finally, even granting Prager the... exaggerated rhetorical flourish that Mein Kampf is a Nazi's bible, it's telling that Prager doesn't think it would be damaging to American civilization to send a Nazi to Congress. The damage would only occur if that Nazi were sworn in on Mein Kampf. Slide a King James under that Aryan hand on Day One and everything will be hunky-dory!

Me, I wouldn't have a problem with an elected official swearing in on Mein Kampf. If he campaigned as an avowed Nazi, and won a majority of the vote as an avowed Nazi, then he's just representing the will of the fine people of Alabama, and we should... well, not respect that, but you know what I mean.

And anyway, Muslims aren't anywhere near as bad as Nazis, which is the subtext Prager wanted to drive home behind the veil of Deniable Analogy because, well, he's an asshole.

The fact that the whole thing is completely and utterly made-up and ridiculous hasn't stopped it from becoming a "controversy", and the American Family Association* is urging their members to get Congress to pass a law requiring members to swear in on Bibles. Which, of course, would get struck down as unconstitutional even if everyone but Scalia and Thomas had the fucking flu, because there's a clause specifically prohibiting a religious test for elected officials. Not that facts matter or anything.

*Which, in case you have as tough a time as I do keeping your pro-family asshole groups straight as I do, is Donald Wildmon's group, so you know they're bringing an extra plate of crazy to the crazy potluck.