Prager, the conservative liberal, caught in his own coils
Dennis Prager has been fiercely attacked by Muslims and liberals for his indignant reaction to Keith Ellison’s announcement that he plans to take his congressional oath of office on the Koran. In his defense of himself in his column today, Prager is extravagantly befuddled, a mass of unexamined contradictions and unprincipled exceptions. On one hand, like a conservative, he posits that America has a particular moral and religious culture. He says that the Judeo-Christian tradition is central to American life and must never be challenged. On the other hand, like a liberal, he insists on the totally non-discriminatory inclusion in this country of Muslims who obviously are going to challenge that culture. And when, as has inevitably happened, the Muslims do challenge it, Prager’s conservative side springs back into action and he denounces the Muslims for disrespecting the American tradition!
The man, in short, is hopelessly confused, having no idea how confused he is. Yet, as if by some special providence (God loves Jewish Americans?), he remains shielded from his own idiocy—by the fact that the anti-American left and the Muslims have attacked him so stridently. This convinces him that he is deeply principled, when in fact he is merely incoherent. As I began seeing about Prager in the early 1990s, he is a cafeteria philosopher, an entrepreneur of revelations. He improvises his own Torah as he goes along. His position in this case, announced from on top of his personal Mount Sinai, is that all office holders in the U.S. regardless of their religious beliefs must take their oath on the Bible, because the Bible is the source of our values and our constitutional principles of liberty. Of course there is no U.S. law requiring this, but such is the Gospel according to St. Dennis, which transcends U.S. law. At the same time, St. Dennis insists on the mass immigration of people whose religion commands them to crush beneath their feet biblical religion and the people who follow it.
As Jim Kalb, the founder of this web site, once said, liberalism makes it impossible for people to be rational, because it prohibits the very things that people care most about, such as moral truth and a way of life based on it. Therefore they can only defend the things they care most about by being irrational. Prager, quite rightly, wants America to be a particularist, “Judeo-Christian” society. Yet his liberal principles of equality and non-discrimination lead inevitably to the destruction of the religious and moral particularity that he prizes. Since his liberal principles won’t help him against—indeed they have made possible—the threat to our culture embodied in Ellison’s declared intention to take his oath of office on the Koran, which has shocked Prager and taken him utterly by surprise, he conjures up and announces from on high his own Commandment, his unprincipled exception to liberalism, which states: “Thou shalt take thy oath of office on the Bible.”
Obviously I agree with Prager that the Koran does not belong in American public life. But unlike Prager I am consistent on the point and say that Muslims themselves do not belong in America and that it is a fatal mistake to allow their immigration hither.
“At the same time, St. Dennis insists on the mass immigration of people whose religion commands them to crush beneath their feet biblical religion and the people who follow it.”
That line reminded Andrew Bostom of the cover illustration of La vie de Mahomet by M. Prideaux, published in 1699. It shows Muhammad holding a sword and a crescent while trampling on a globe, a cross, and the Ten Commandments:
The same illustration has been featured and discussed previously at VFR.