Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Jefferson’s Koran

This is clever in a number of ways.

Discussions - 21 Comments

Dennis Prager and Virgil Goode were fools to make a stink out of Ellison’s plan to use the Koran. I have no allegiance to Islam, nor do I care for Ellison’s ties to shady elements of that faith. But suggesting that he be forced to use the Bible (or presumably, nothing at all ... but I was never clear on Prager’s or Goode’s position on that) doesn’t pass the common-sense test. It strikes too close to the notion of the "Evangelical Right" mandating a religious position, which I’m sure a good majority of Americans oppose.

From a political point of view it would have been far better to quietly allow Ellison to brand himself Muslim, and work to point out what "Muslim" means for him -- ties to terrorist organizations; support for Imams that incite concerns on airplanes, etc.

As it stands now, Prager and Goode have given Ellison political cover. And he pulled a clever manuever getting Jefferson’s copy of the Koran. Further political cover. So much so, in fact, that it’s probably insulated Ellison from proper criticism for his other, less savory allegiances.

Conservatives too often do things to reinforce the stereotype.

What a great idea. What is Bernie Sanders using for his swearing in? Do you suppose there is something from Jefferson’s library that would be suitable?

What did Joe Lieberman use? A Christian Bible? Or a copy of the Torah?

The fact that none of the NLT bloggers criticized Prager or Goode for their "only the Bible" nonsense says plenty.

"From a political point of view it would have been far better to quietly allow Ellison to brand himself Muslim, and work to point out what "Muslim" means for him -- ties to terrorist organizations; support for Imams that incite concerns on airplanes, etc."

This seems to be the best plan of action. We shouldn’t call the man (or any man), for that matter, until we have "probable cause." In other words, we have to have reason to believe thus. We should not denounce the man because he didn’t want to be sworn in on a book which he does not follow (or at least profess to follow). Doing so would be a lie. Can we indite a man for lying based on the book he was sworn in on?

I don’t think his wanting to be sworn in on the Koran is a problem, but I do think we should be leery.

"Conservatives too often do things to reinforce the stereotype."

Unfortunately, AZ, all politicians and perhaps all human beings do this, regardless of their political affiliation.

I’m sorry if my spelling is terrible. I think all the words are correct, but please excuse any typos or poor spelling on my part.


While I understand your sarcastic point, and agree with your undertone in essence, there is more to it than that.

Socialism is something which is inherently anti-American. To be Muslim is not in itself anti-American. To be a terrorist is to be anti-American. To be a Muslim is not necessarily to be a terrorist.

However, I do think we should be aware that the terrorists which we are fighting happen to be Muslim (I suppose I should say fundamentalist Muslims). Until the terrorists start using 75-year-old white women, we should be leery.

I’m sorry if I sound contradictory, but I’m having conflicting thoughts in my head right now. All I’m trying to do is continue the conversation by means of putting words to my thoughts. After all, that’s what blogs are all about: communication.

Goode should not have said that, methinks. Ellison deserves heat for his CAIR entanglements, and even more so, for his Nation of Islam entanglements. Hence my moniker. A Warith Deen Mohammed black Muslim representative would have been another story, one America could maybe even have taken some pride in, but electing this guy was a disgrace. Dems should be hangin’ their heads in abject SHAME. That said, let the man swear on the Koran.

Of course the funny thing is that while this may be a "Jefferson’s Koran" ownedby Jefferson, it won’t be equivalent to a "Jefferson’s Koran" like the Jefferson’s Bible, from which diligent TJ excised out the "corrupted," i.e. often "miraculous," parts. Jefferson loved the self-sacrificial moral teachings of Jesus, but couldn’t buy the rest. So, a real "Jefferson’s Koran" , sans the miraculous, sans teachings contrary to the love-your-neighbor spirit, would be what? Twenty pages long? But of course, anyone who takes a razor blade to a Koran, as opposed to a New Testament, risks execution, and TJ being so ahead of his time in every way was too smart for that.

Craig’s hermeneutical principle would enable him to read anything into our silences about so many subjects. I guess any time I don’t say anything about any utterance by anyone, it means that I approve of it. Or disapprove of it. Or conform to whatever stereotype Craig wants to impose upon me, or anyone else who blogs here.

Fortunately for me, there are a few occasions at least where I have better things to do than to think of what Craig Scanlon will think of me.

Like right now, when Scrabble with some of the residents of my parents’ home beckons.

Young Ashbrook, America doesn’t seem to have any problem with some aspects of socialism. If the definition is "A theory or policy of social organization which aims at or advocates the ownership and control of the means of production, capital, land, property, etc., by the community as a whole, and their administration or distribution in the interests of all." we seem to have been prepared to dabble in that for some many years, now, although we still love private ownership. However, your private ownership had better be compatible with the interests of the community, or else.

It is hard not to have conflicting thoughts on the topic, because we are a free nation and if a guy wants to hold the Koran as his holy book, we probably shouldn’t care. However, when we are involved in a war with people who use the Koran as an excuse to blow other people up and as the foundation for their claim to the right to world domination, well then.... We get to feeling a little picky on the topic, don’t we?

Your spelling is fine and your thoughts seem clear enough to me. Communicate away!

Don in AZ, couldn’t Ellison have sworn in on a copy of the Torah? Don’t Muslims count that as a holy book, too? Of course, there is a political point made in using Jefferson’s unexpurgated copy of the Koran. If Jefferson had a copy of the Koran, then it must be just fine. Of course, Jefferson was said to have had a copy of nearly every book published in his day. I could envy that, except that there is so much dreadful stuff published these days. How about, to own every book worth reading. Now that would be something. And to get to read them.

While it may not be the equivalent of using Jefferson’s Bible to swear in on...I think that symbolically it is the same thing. If Jefferson’s Koran doesn’t contain the arabic then it isn’t actually the Koran. As Dr. Knippenburg points out...this is clever...

I hope you enjoyed the Scrabble, Mr. Knippenberg.

It’s certainly interesting, if not ironic, that on the very same topic (Ellison) a few blog-posts back you wrote:

"In other words, he, no more than anyone else, should simply be given a free pass, claiming, as he does, that his faith informs his politics. And he should be pressed on the passages from the Koran that hard for non-Muslims and liberals to swallow. And he should be pressed to take a stand anytime any Muslim anywhere makes any sort of bloodcurdling statement. Let Ellison condemn them, quite publicly."

Surely, if you’ve followed the Ellison story even a little bit, you have some awareness of fellow conservative Judeo-Christians (I’d just say Christians, but Prager is technically a Christianity-promoting Jew, not a Christian, per se) Prager’s and Goode’s despicable/bloodcurdling remarks about the horror of Ellison being sworn into office using his religion’s sacred text. Yet you’ve offered nary a peep about THOSE statements, which have been widely aired in the blogosphere, left, right, and center.

Yet you scold me by saying:

"Craig’s hermeneutical principle would enable him to read anything into our silences about so many subjects. I guess any time I don’t say anything about any utterance by anyone, it means that I approve of it. Or disapprove of it..."

Apparently, we share the same "hermeneutical principle"?

Yes, yes, I know. Ellison holds public office, and you (along with most of the guys you were cheering for back in November don’t (will that "actual" column EVER be filled in, or is it really that painful?)) don’t. But really, if anything, with you as an academic/intellectual/political blogger seemingly ready and willing to cover and analyze most any topic of current sociopolitical interest, and one who strives to be fair in where he casts his critical gaze, I would actually expect more of YOU (rather than Ellison or Santorum or Goode or whoever) in being a watchdog of the inflammatory utterances of all fellow theists, including and especially Christians. Whereas, I expect legislators to do their job (which, however one may define it in ideal terms, is quite different than blogging, I’m sure we can agree), and that shouldn’t really include monitoring all of the comments of their religious peers worldwide, and issuing excoriating/educational press releases when those comments do not jibe with his/her interpretation of the given religion.

Do you expect such watchdogging from your favorite conservative Christian pols?

Very cool idea. There’s hope for this guy after all.


Go back and read the stories about the speeches, the complete texts of which I haven’t been able to find anywhere. Ellison has publicly embraced his Muslim identity and urged his fellows Muslims to speak out as Muslims, contributing what they have to offer to America and the world.

I say: take him up on his offer, which will lead either to an articulation of Islam that is consistent with a pluralistic liberal democracy (my hope) or to something less savory (my fear). Ellison has an opportunity to make a huge difference in the world, but whether he’s up to it is another question altogether.

As for your other comments, there’s so much "stupidity" in the world that I have to pick and choose what I’m going to respond to. I don’t claim to speak for anyone other than myself.

Finally, I won the Scrabble game.

Any direct answer to:

"Do you expect such watchdogging from your favorite conservative Christian pols?"

Surely you know that there are plenty of Christian pols who have and do publicly embrace their Christian identity and urge their fellow Christians to speak out as Christians?

I guess it’s just mere chance and coincidence that 98.9% of the "stupidity" (were you quoting someone with that?) you focus on is that which emanates from the left, and the stupidity from the right which you brush right up against goes without comment.

Let’s see: I’ve criticized Andrew Sullivan, Heather Mac Donald, and Jeffrey Hart, not to mention libertarians of various stripes. I don’t, however, regard any of them as "stupid." I’ve also offered something of a middle way between what I called "contending originalisms" here.

But I can’t criticize conservatives of various stripes enough for your taste, Craig, without going over to the other side, which I lack the ambition to do. You’ll have to find someone else to be relentless in his criticism of conservative "stupidity."

However, when we are involved in a war with people who use the Koran as an excuse to blow other people up and as the foundation for their claim to the right to world domination, well then.... We get to feeling a little picky on the topic, don’t we?

RIGHT! Remember how we denounced Christianity during WW II because Hitler was such a devout Christian?

No? Hummm...

Hitler wrote: "I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.."

Young Ashbrook -

Socialism is something which is inherently anti-American.

Where in the world did you get that idea? I’d be interested in what you think "socialism" is. It is not the same as Marxist-Leninism. It is not even necessarily Marxist.

And what about the term anti-[or un-]American? It has a tradition, as Chesterton, Hartz, and others tell us.

This thread has reminded us of Art VI of the Constitution (no religious Tests), but it has also reminded us of a religious uneasiness, so to speak, in the "other constitution." I guess it’s inevitable that we come around to Socialism is something which is inherently anti-American.

Craig and Marko--if you two love arabs so much why don’t you go to Arabia and leave America to the real Americans.


None of the conservatives you cite as having criticized are politicians (that I’m aware of, anyway). One last time:

Do you expect such watchdogging (for inflammatory/bloodcurdling comments) from your favorite conservative Christian POLITICIANS??

(and I’m still at a loss as to why you’re putting the word stupidity in quotes as though I introduced the term to the discussion in some way; I did not)

It hardly seems necessary for you to go to "the other side" merely to spend half as much energy knocking down the outrageous and over-the-top statements made by your right-wing political and punditry peers as you do those coming from the left. I don’t think anyone’s going to confuse you for Ward Churchill (or even...say, Joe Lieberman) anytime soon.


I don’t mean to imply that you introduced the term into the discussion.

But I still don’t have time to meet your wishes, and, as it’s unlikely that I would gain anything by spending my scarce blogging time by thinking about what you’d like me to write about, I won’t.

If however, you’d like to blog on a site where there are both conservatives and liberals, I’d be happy to extend to you an invitation to join a group blog (not NLT) to which I also contribute, from time to time. Just send me an email.

On the other hand, here’s bit of reinforcement for the idea that Ellison is two bricks shy of a load: The Koran he swore on, according to, indeed belonged to Thomas Jefferson, but the translation "calls the Prophet Muhammad a ’criminal... imposing a false religion’" Probably not what Ellison intended.

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