Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Muslim-Jitsu

This is just... magnificent:
Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he'd take his oath of office on the Koran -- especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.

Yet the holy book at tomorrow's ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We've learned that the new congressman -- in a savvy bit of political symbolism -- will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

"He wanted to use a Koran that was special," said Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress, who was contacted by the Minnesota Dem early in December....

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. This isn't the first historic book used for swearing-in ceremonies -- the Library has allowed VIPs to use rare Bibles for inaugurations and other special occasions.

Ellison will take the official oath of office along with the other incoming members in the House chamber, then use the Koran in his individual, ceremonial oath with new Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "Keith is paying respect not only to the founding fathers' belief in religious freedom but the Constitution itself," said Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert.
This is an absolutely brilliant use of political symbolism - good luck trying to paint someone as an unpatriotic terrorist infiltraitor when they're sworn in on Thomas Jefferson's Koran.

Good on ya, and Goode off ya, Mr. Ellison.


(P.S. Am I the only one who finds himself wondering if Jefferson's Koran has all references to Allah excised from it?)

9 comments:

V said...

Bloody hell... I know I just posted a comment here, but it isn't showing up.

Rob said...

Jefferson would have no trouble with references to Allah -- just the miracles and angels and stuff in the Koran.

He left in references to God, but took out references to Jesus' divinity and the Trinity, as well as anything supernatural.

V said...

My big question was, hypothetically, what would an Atheist swear on? I'm totally down with people from different faiths using their own holy books for official oaths. But what if someone doesn't HAVE a holy book, or if they're offended by the notion of swearing on one?

Eli said...

Jefferson would have no trouble with references to Allah -- just the miracles and angels and stuff in the Koran.

Fair enough - I was striving for brevity, plus I'm not real familiar with the level of miracle/angel content in the Koran.


V, I've wondered that myself - I *think* there's precedent where they simply didn't swear at all (as the story notes, the swearing on the whatever is an informal ceremony).

I like the idea of swearing in on the Constitution, but it's a bit recursive, since that's what they're swearing to uphold.

V said...

Maybe you could just swear on your mother's grave. Oooh, or you could pinky swear. The pinky swear is serious business.

Ol' Froth said...

Pinky swear followed by a double-dog dare!

Eli said...

The problem with today's swearing-in ceremonies is that no-one spits on their palms.

op99 said...

Thomas Jefferson, along with several of the other founding fathers, were probably deists, and not Christians. They may have gone to church to keep up appearances, but showed no signs of buying into Christianity in their writings. For the deists of that era, it was only the mysteries later accounted for by the theory of evolution that prevented them from being atheists.

Check "Deism in America" at this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism#Deism_in_America

Eli said...

Thomas Jefferson, along with several of the other founding fathers, were probably deists, and not Christians. They may have gone to church to keep up appearances, but showed no signs of buying into Christianity in their writings. For the deists of that era, it was only the mysteries later accounted for by the theory of evolution that prevented them from being atheists.

Yep, I know. Jefferson admired Jesus's New Testament moral teachings, but didn't have much use for the supernatural stuff.