Reductio ad absurdum

Sometimes it’s interesting to take an idea to its logical conclusion. Regular readers may recall that I weighed in when Dennis Prager questioned whether it was right to remove the Bible from a Congressional swearing-in ceremony. I originally thought Mr. Prager had erred because he wasn’t thinking about the nature of oath-taking. Thanks to a very astute comment from JJ, though, I started really thinking about the Koran and the Constitution, and whether the two can exist simultaneously in the same political universe. Those thoughts resulted in this article at the American Thinker.

I’d like to emphasize here, as I did at the end of this article, that I have absolutely no reason to believe that Keith Ellison is anything but a staunch American. I disagree with his political positions, not because they are Koranically based and therefore antithetical to the Constitution, but because they are liberally Democratic based, and therefore antithetical to my conservative political viewpoints.

Just as Kennedy wasn’t commanded by Rome, I do not believe Ellison is commanded by Iran or any other Islamic theocracy. Nevertheless, I think it’s worth thinking about the implications of his willingness to place his holy book front and center when it comes to his Congressional position. Fairly pure logic, mostly untainted by a politician’s real world conduct and statements, indicates that there may be a Constitutional problem brewing in America’s future.

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  • Ellie

    Mr. Ellis need not swear on any book. Indeed the Bible itself says not to make an oath at all(Matt 5:33-37). But one wonders what is his motive for spurning tradition since Islam itself oft emphasises its respect for Jesus and the claim that muslims too, are “children of the Book.”

  • PG

    If Ellison is “spurning tradition,” so are the Jewish politicans who have sworn on the Old Testament and Talmud. If we think the tradition of swearing on a book has any meaning, shouldn’t one swear on the book one finds most holy? (Spare me the comparison to a neo-Nazi’s swearing on Mein Kampf; if a neo-Nazi is elected, I think we have bigger problems than his choosing not to follow David Duke’s example by swearing on the Bible.)

    I’m really disappointed to see increased conservative support for Prager’s absurd statements. America is about the Constitution, not the Bible; the Bible contravenes the modern Constitution in many respects, including the Biblical positioning of women as having to be obedient to men and the acceptance of slavery. How can the Bible and the Constitution exist simultaneously in the same political universe? The Constitution certainly isn’t an enactment of the Bible nor any other religious text. No religion is likely to track the Constitution, because religion is about faith and the life after this, not a feasible political structure that protects our temporal and earthly rights. Religion demands that we submit to the will of God; the Constitution demands that we make our leaders submit to our will. Attempting to put the two together is absurd.

  • Bookworm

    PG, if you’d read carefully, you would have seen that I think generally people should swear on whatever has meaning to them, which is where I part ways with Prager. However, where I raised my theoretical question was the nature of the Koran itself, a book that I think is separate from other books (or, rather, the way in which other religious texts are interpreted). The Koran has no room for other legislative systems. My RAA argument was how can you swear to uphold the Constitution using a Holy Book that, as written and as interpreted, demands the destruction of all other political systems, and their replacement with an Islamic theocracy?

  • Ellie

    PG, Christianity & Judaism have long since repudiated slavery, no longer regard women and children as property and have well institutionalized the separation of church and state.
    Islam has done none of these. Bookworm is absolutely correct in her analysis of the fundamental incompatiblity of Islam with Democracy as we practice it. Islam has trumpeted for all who listen that it will defeat America and in the process, establish worldwide sharia.
    While I understand the idea that you swear on what’s important to you, the historical fact is that this country was founded on Christian ideas and ideals and the “so help me God” that Washington first tacked on to the oath of office acknowledges that fact.

  • richard diamond

    The difference seems to be within the parameters of the religions. I’ve heard from numerous muslims that they may not obey any secular laws which may conflict with Islamic law. Kennedy never professed any such belief for himself.vis a vis Catholicism.If Ellison is the patriot we would like to believe he is, he has a responsibility to disassociate himself from that dictum. Also, Islamic law allows adherents to lie to infidels.

  • Marguerite

    Maybe Bookworm knows, but I didn’t think the slavery in ancient Isreal was the same as modern slavery where peoples were taken against their will from their land and sold into bondage. I believe that in Biblical times, individuals sold themselves into bondage for a certain period of time to pay personal debts – and every 10 (?) years was a year of jubilee when debts were forgiven, so a person wasn’t perpetually a slave.

  • Bookworm

    I don’t know too much about Old Testament slavery, but I always believed that the Jews were the first civilization that demanded that slaves be treated humanely and eventually get manumitted. Here’s an essay someone wrote about Biblical slavery in historical context:

  • Marguerite

    Thanks, BW! Something to curl up with tonight after finishing my 6th Heyer book, ‘Venetia’.

  • Lady Liberty

    A first rate analysis, and together with Dennis Prager’s, essential reading and thinking for our nation, still a Constitutional Republic.

    I would argue, though, with what I consider to be surface arguments (and many have distracted us–part of the current shell game) such as “Prager was wrong about Ellison’s using the Koran at his swearing-in, not because it represented an act of multiculturalist self-obsession,”…

    No, I think Mr. Prager began at the beginning. The outer crust of our multicrusted nation which allows and encourages such muddled thinking and appeasement of dishonor to God and to God’s liberty. (This last God-sentence, in particular, will immediately set off a fighting battalion of flying brain tics, set to suck the blood from any thinking minds among u.s.)

    But never mind about that, for your argument has persevered into the deeper feed.

    However, I do not consider the concern about Mr. Ellison’s preference for his religiously-positioned politics of Islamic Shari’a to be a reductio ad absurdum. If there is a reductio ad absurdum lurking about, and there is, the source is not the American thinker.

    Brazen affronts to, say, in this case, a country’s traditions, values, even sacred laws (like the Christian kind which require reciprocity and freedom of religious expression, not state-dictated, theocratic tyrannies) tend to be dismissed by the generous hostess, as if she were an eager maiden, oblivious to the blatant assertions the suitor is actually presuming as he compulsively reveals his shady past or brazenly stakes his claims on her future.

    Years later, she will have acquired the forlorn insight that she suddenly dismissed to the background noise of her own overriding preferences.

  • Bookworm

    I love Venetia. It’s one of her later ones, and I think she grew as a writer a lot during her long career.

  • mike

    The real question here is whether people of free will and thinking believe the Koran to be a religious book or is it an Imperialistic Doctrine?

  • JJ

    I think the real question, Mike, remains the original one: is it possible to in fact be (in Bookworm’s phrase) a staunch American, while simultaneously being a staunch Muslim?

    I regret to say that the answer, based on the Koran itself, is apparently: no. It seems that if you’re going to be a staunch Muslim, that pretty much eliminates any possibility of being a staunch anything else, up to and including staunch American.

    I don’t know jack-s*** about Mr. Ellison, I never heard of him; but this causes me some reflexive questions about him. Either he’s an intellectual giant who has somehow found a heretofore undiscovered way to reconcile these two irreconcilables, or he has an issue here, and it’s one that requires a pretty clear and unequivocal statement of purpose from him.

    The only possibility I see is that he’s not a very good Muslim, just as most of us are not particularly good Jews or Christians. For the sake of living on this planet the Jews and Christians disregard most of Deuteronomy, with its exhortations to kill everybody who doesn’t have their mind right. Presumably Ellison will disregard those portions of the Koran (regrettably a hell of a lot more than just one book, or chapter) that insist upon the same.

    Additionally, the fact is that the Jews and Christians will not round upon and kill anyone who disregards Deuteronomy – but Mr. Ellison may find himself in some rapidly warming water if he chooses to disregard the inumerable suras inviting him to lie, steal from, cheat, and kill anyone who disagrees with Islam’s world view. As a Muslim who will (perhaps) not do those things in his dealings with all the rest of us infidels, he is certainly inviting his own murder at the hands of the true believers.

  • ymarsakar

    Ellison will have to represent the voters that got him in, which were many Muslims in America. How he will do so, from a Democrat platform, remains to be seen. Will he like the Democrat MO, operate on a class warfare and ethnic warfare template? Pitting one against the other, ala Jesse Jackson? Or, vote like Obama but also talk like Obama?

    As a Democrat, Ellison is already playing with a loaded deck. He needs not the Koran to lie or steal, for justifications.

  • JJ

    Call me simple, but as far as I’m concerned, Keith Ellison, aka Hakim Mohammed, ought not be seated in the upcoming congress, if for no other reason than his participation in the scam described in the link below. I don’t care who voted for him, this guy is a problem, and will not be a positive addition to American governance.