Prager can’t stop digging

PRAGER CAN’T STOP DIGGING…. About a month ago, right-wing talk-show host and writer Dennis Prager became something of a laughing stock by arguing that Rep.-elect Kieth Ellison (D-Minn.), Congress’ first Muslim, will literally “undermine American civilization” and “embolden Islamic extremists” if he takes the oath of office on a Koran instead of a Christian Bible. Prager’s Townhall piece, despite its historical and legal inaccuracies, was quickly embraced by the religious right, picked up by the cable networks, and became a real news story.

As a rule, when you fall in a ditch, you should stop digging, but Prager couldn’t help himself. A week after his first column sparked widespread criticisms, Prager followed up with yet another column, blaming Ellison for the “controversy.” As Prager saw it, if Ellison would just go along with using a Christian Bible, right-wing critics wouldn’t feel compelled to attack him.

This week, Prager, shovel in hand, digs a little deeper.

That a belief or lack of belief in the divinity of a book dating back over 2,500 years is at the center of the Culture War in America and between religious America and secular Europe is almost unbelievable. But it not only explains these divisions; it also explains the hatred that much of the Left has for Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Mormon Bible-believers. For the Left, such beliefs are irrational, absurd and immoral. […]

This divide explains why the wrath of the Left has fallen on those of us who lament the exclusion of the Bible at a ceremonial swearing-in of an American congressman. The Left wants to see that book dethroned. And that, in a nutshell, is what the present civil war is about.

I’m actually left feeling a little sorry for Prager. After all of his other arguments were debunked and rejected, this is the best he could come up with: that liberals want the Bible “dethroned.” Why? Because some wacky civil libertarians believe a member of Congress should be free to use any book he or she chooses during the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony, just as it’s been for decades.

As Prager explains it, to support the right of religious minorities to incorporate their religious texts in personal ceremonies is to be necessarily hostile to Jews and Christians. Indeed, he characterizes it as a “civil war.” Breathtaking.

Of course, let’s also not overlook an important detail — Prager is not just a random blowhard, he’s the man the Bush White House appointed to a five-year term on the taxpayer-funded United States Holocaust Memorial Council. A statement announcing Prager’s appointment praised his “unique moral voice.”

Where does the Bush gang find these clowns?

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation