There really is a first time for everything...

This has never happened before: Alan Dershowitz has written something that I don't completely disagree with. It is regarding American congressman Keith Ellison. This is from a blog entry posted on HuffPo:
As if to demonstrate that intolerance once practiced against Jews can also be practiced by some Jews against other minorities, a Jewish right wing talk show host named Dennis Prager led a campaign to disallow the first Muslim elected to Congress (in November 2006) to take an oath of office on the Koran.
Prager, apparently something of an alarmist, claimed that allowing Ellison to do this "undermines American civilization."

Dershowitz cites a condemnation of Prager's comments by the Anti-Defamation League of B'Nai Brith. While they were right to condemn what Prager said, there was one part that I found highly questionable:
Prager ridiculously asserts that permitting Rep. Ellison to take the oath of office would 'be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11.' What he fails to understand is that what truly unifies all Americans is a value system built on religious freedom and pluralism, not dogmatism and coercion. (emphasis added)
Is that actually true? Are Americans really "unified" in this way? I don't see how anyone could seriously argue that this is the case. If it were, Ellison's decision would not have been met with such controversy.

No doubt many Americans are committed to such a value system. But you don't have to look to far to find mountains of evidence that many others are not.

This is such an obvious observation that I'm slightly embarrassed pointing it out. But what interests me is not so much the obvious difficulty with the claim that "all Americans" are unified by a "value system built on religious freedom and pluralism," but the fact that there are people -- presumably intelligent people -- who actually make such claims.

More on the subject tomorrow...


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