Keith Ellison‘s private swearing-in ceremony is just that– a ceremony. There are no official guidelines for the use of texts (religious or otherwise) in this ceremony. The choice of book, if one is used at all, is up to the individual being sworn in. Ellison’s choice has been made a big deal because our national politics– intertwined as they are with the reactionary nature of our whorish corporate media– are currently infected by a reactionary, reptilian cultural virus that feeds off of irrational fear and creates the toxins of knee-jerk cultural imperialism and simplistic symbolism.
The suggestion that there is something wrong with Keith Ellison swearing in with a Koran is a stand-in for the notion that our nation (and what passes for our ‘culture’) is in a ‘civilizational’ and ideological war with Islam. This notion is utter bullshit, and it is being sold by greedy, megalomaniacal people who wish to justify their imperialistic avarice by projecting their own desires onto a shadowy, largely imagined ‘other.’ These people attempt to sweep us up in their insanity by trumping up an existential threat, transforming that amorphous threat into its own brand, and slapping that brand’s label onto anything and everything. In my humble opinion, these lunatics have done a magnificent job.
Then again, after watching the laughable dichotomy on display recently in the corporate media, I believe the lunatics have it easy (given the pea-brained cowardice of their target market). Think about it: on the one hand, you have Saddam Hussein being lynched by a bunch of masked yahoos on behalf of the Bush administration. Why was he ‘punished’ for such a narrow scope of crimes? Why not hang him for the hundreds of thousands of other deaths he caused? The answer can be found (on the other hand) in the week-long corporate media eulogy for Gerald Ford. Genocidal technocrat after genocidal technocrat stood up to give Ford credit for ‘healing the nation.’ This was an absurd, Orwellian euphemism for serving as Richard Nixon’s waterboy: according to his own memoirs, Ford was given the vice presidency in exchange for the promise of pardoning Nixon after the latter’s disgraceful, impeachment-avoiding resignation. And not once during all the saccharine solemnity did one of those assholes mention East Timor. To be sure, when someone recently departed is publicly praised by Henry Kissinger, that special someone is already burning in the hottest part of hell.
But I digress. U.S. troops are currently deployed in an illegal and destructive occupation in Iraq, which followed a destructive and illegal bombardment and invasion, which followed a decade-plus of destructive and genocidal (and quasi-legal) sanctions, etc., ad nauseum. The U.S. military is still training Latin American right-wing military officers at Fort Benning (and other places), hoping, presumably, to bring back the glorious Reaganite ’80s by unleashing them against the latest wave of naughty Latin American nationalist self-determination. The U.S. government is giving military support to murderous dictators in Central Asia; it is giving unconditional support to the colonial Zionist enterprise in Palestine; and it plays diplomatic and economic footsie with autocratic regimes from China to Libya to Colombia while antagonizing popularly elected governments such as those in Bolivia and Venezuela.
Yet, we’re supposed to get our dander up because an elected official wants to take his oath of office with the text of his constitutionally protected faith. Is this truly the only planet on which I can live?