This is Kind of Hilarious
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.
Yes that Thomas Jefferson, the one whose house Monticello is located in Goode's district. LOL.
With my views, I can't imagine ever getting elected to office, but I wonder what book I could be sworn in on? Ayn Rand is often suggested, but though her work has had a tremendous impact on me, I think she now sends off a slightly creepy, cultish vibe that might not work well on the PR front. The Wealth of Nations? Hayek's Road to Serfdom? Free to Choose? How about Julian Simon -- his optimism in free human endeavor probably reflects my personal outlook better than anyone.
I'm not sure about any of those. I think that putting your hand on a copy of the US Constitution would be the most appropriate symbol, and would solve those nasty religion debates in a way I think both left and right could agree on.
Posted on January 3, 2007 at 09:29 AM | Permalink
I believe a couple of early politicians were too pius to swear on a bible and they used a book of federal laws.
Posted by: OneEyedMan | Jan 4, 2007 8:04:43 AM
The Constitution is the closest thing to a holy text I recognize. And it's been done before. John Quincy Adams's version of Christianity precluded swearing on the Bible, so he used a lawbook that included a copy of the Constitution.
Posted by: markm | Jan 4, 2007 9:58:51 AM
It's pretty funny that Goode feels that allowing Ellison to swear on his own holy book is contrary to American values. Which value is that? Is it contrary to this one?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . "
It's buried deep in a very obscure document with which Goode is probably not familiar, so I'm willing to give him a pass on this one. But what about good 'ol common sense?
Swearing on a bible is supposed to put the fear of god into a believer, to hopefully ensure the honesty and integrity (haha, for a politician!) of the person taking the oath. Now, I'm an atheist, so for me, swearing on a stack of bibles is pretty much no different from swearing on a Dr. Seuss book. I'd imagine it would be similar for a Muslim. If the point of the whole exercise is to symbolize taking an oath to the highest power that the individual recognizes, don't we want him to swear on the Koran?
Posted by: Eric | Jan 4, 2007 2:06:56 PM
Normally, I'd say yes, since as you say, the whole point is to swear on something in which you believe. In this case, however, this particular book, whether owned or not by Jefferson, demands its contents are the end-all and be-all and not subordinate to mans' law. Kinda contrary to the Constitution, which by this book, he is swearing to uphold. If he believes in it, which I presume he does, he is a problem for us all.
Posted by: Cindi | Jan 4, 2007 2:12:47 PM
One of the Adams, I forget which one, took a congressional oath on a book of laws. I agree that the constitution, or magna carta would be good.
Posted by: ElamBend | Jan 5, 2007 9:07:57 PM
I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
Regardless of the cultic creepiness of placing one's hand on Atlas Shrugged, that's still a pretty good oath to require of our officeholders.
Posted by: triticale | Jan 7, 2007 10:56:06 AM
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