Thomas Jefferson's Koran

OK, I'm over the top excited about Mike Arcuri's swearing in tomorrow, but this news story means a lot to me too. Now, I'm neither an immigrant nor someday considering a run for public office beyond what I already do, but I'd bet that Rep. Virgil Goode would put me in the catagory of "those people."

Way to go, Keith Ellison!

From the Washington Post:
But It's Thomas Jefferson's Koran!

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, January 3, 2007; C03

Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he'd take his oath of office on the Koran -- especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.

Yet the holy book at tomorrow's ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We've learned that the new congressman -- in a savvy bit of political symbolism -- will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

"He wanted to use a Koran that was special," said Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress, who was contacted by the Minnesota Dem early in December. Dimunation, who grew up in Ellison's 5th District, was happy to help.

Jefferson's copy is an English translation by George Sale published in the 1750s; it survived the 1851 fire that destroyed most of Jefferson's collection and has his customary initialing on the pages. This isn't the first historic book used for swearing-in ceremonies -- the Library has allowed VIPs to use rare Bibles for inaugurations and other special occasions.

Ellison will take the official oath of office along with the other incoming members in the House chamber, then use the Koran in his individual, ceremonial oath with new Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "Keith is paying respect not only to the founding fathers' belief in religious freedom but the Constitution itself," said Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert.

One person unlikely to be swayed by the book's illustrious history is Goode, who released a letter two weeks ago objecting to Ellison's use of the Koran. "I believe that the overwhelming majority of voters in my district would prefer the use of the Bible," the Virginia Republican told Fox News, and then went on to warn about what he regards as the dangers of Muslims immigrating to the United States and Muslims gaining elective office.

Yeah, but what about a Koran that belonged to one of the greatest Virginians in history? Goode, who represents Jefferson's birthplace of Albemarle County, had no comment yesterday.

Tomorrow will be a good day indeed!


Happy New Year

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Well, 2006 has certainly been quite a year. The campaign for Michael Arcuri for Congress, by far, has been my greatest adventutre to date. 300 voluntees who are still staying active even though Election Day has come and gone. Paid staff and interns who came together and built an organization the likes of which central NY had never seen before. It was rejuvenating to see young people so energized and passionate about the future and what they can do to shape it. Too often, we see too many people stuck in the quagmires of their daily lives. Too often, we miss that the best way of making those changes we want is to be those changes.

I'm finding it a little hard to settle back into my "normal life" after this adventure. Given that it'll be back in 2008, that's probably a good thing.

Wishing you and your's your own amazing adventure in the new year!