Bigotry In America? You Bet.
There are milestones in our great Democracy. To name a few would be to name the freeing of the slaves, allowing woman to vote and allowing minorities to hold political office.
Multiculturalism and religious equality are qualities embedded in the Constitution and the documents that America is founded on. For instance, in Article. VI. it is written
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
The First Amendment to the Constitution also reads
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
To reach further back one can site The Declaration Of Independence, which in it's opening lines states
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights"
Note that it is written "endowed by their creator" not endowed by my creator or your creator or the creator, but the creator of the individual. It is written to protect the religions and beliefs of all Americans, not just some.
So what really shocks me, in the year 2006 is when people who think they are true Americans exhibit and display some very truly unAmerican traits, such as racism and/or religious intolerance.
These people often claim that if America allows religious harmony and equality that it will "undermines American civilization".
This idea is laughable because multiculturalism and religious tolerance does not undermine American civilization, it builds American civilization and it advances American civilization and it serves as a role model to the world.
But there are many intolerant bigots still living amongst us. Like I wrote, they claim to know what "American values" are and talk about the "voice of the American people" a lot and they say they want to "protect" American culture all while they try to tear it apart, but mostly it is just intolerance and xenophobia.
In the 2006 elections America saw it's first Muslim Congressman elected in the entire history of the country, this is another milestone in our Democracy, specifically because our Constitution reflects that people of all religions are allowed to serve in political office and that "no religious test" shall be required. It is one quality in which our Constitution is more advanced than others.
I did not expect, but I should have figured that some people in this country would be tremendously opposed to Ellison taking his Oath on a Koran or even the fact that he was Muslim.
However I was actually shocked and somewhat dismayed when right wing pundit Dennis Prager attacked newly elected Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Ellison is a Muslim man, fairly elected and has asked that he could be sworn in on the Koran, rather than the Bible.
Again, Article. VI of The United States Constitution states that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
Again, the first Amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Dennis Prager claimed in a recent column that letting Ellison take his oath on the Koran rather than the typical Bible "undermines American civilization" and made insinuations that Ellison was making a statement such as "my culture trumps America's culture" by wanting to use a Koran rather than a Bible.
Prager produced some of the most crackpot theories and accusation in his recent column in which he claims "America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress."
WOW, that's pretty.. what do you call it... bigoted? Narrow minded? He doesn't even realize that when he is spouting off about "American values" that he is contradicting the guidelines set forth in the Constitution, all while claiming to be a patriot!
In the inflammatory column Prager goes on to write "In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath."
Prager even compares letting Ellison take his oath with the Koran to letting someone take their oath with Hitler's "Mein Kampf".
First, Mein Kampf is not a Holy Book, and Second it is highly unlikely Nazi will ever be sworn into any office in America and Third most neo Nazi's embrace Christian ideals anyway.
Is this guy Prager even serious or is he too busy making a mockery of himself? He's practically frothing at the mouth, insinuating that Ellison or his supporters would mock the Bible. Not only that Prager is claiming that America is vehemently opposed to this heinous act of exercising ones Constitutional rights.
Allowing Ellison to take his oath on the Koran will not disrupt the fabric of American society, and it does not show disrespect for American society.
Our Constitution was set up in such a way to allow room for and protect religious minorities in public life and in office. Allowing one to practice their own religion does not surrender one to confirming the legitimacy of another person's religion but does confirm an equal and civil society.
By the way, Prager, beg you please, do some research before even writing about this subject again or maybe even read up on that whole Constitution thing.
Personal Note : Sometimes people who claim to want to protect American civilization actually inherently try to destroy it. Their ideals of American civilization are much different from the one outlined in the Constitution of the United States which serve to protect minorities and religions.
As written above, I believe it is another milestone in our great Democracy to see a Muslim elected to Congress. There was a time when people like Dennis Prager railed against letting Catholics, African Americans and woman run for office.
Last, I look forward to hearing the right wing conspiracy theories that will inevitably hatch around that Muslim Congressman and his "leftist supporters" and I am sure if Prager does not start the conspiracy theory about the "Leftist and Muslim Agenda To Overthrow American Values With Homosexuals And Flag Burners" then I am sure Rush Limbaugh or Pat Robertson will pick up on it soon enough.