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!

1 comment:

Ben said...

Here's the deal, Thomas Jefferson bought the Koran because he was looking to defeat maurading bands of muslim pirates who were disrupting American shipping lanes. The muslims were taking American sailors hostage and either killing them or turning them into slaves- Jefferson organized a band of Marines to march across to Tripoli to defeat them- thus the line in the Marine Hymn..."From the halls of Montezuma to the SHORES OF TRIPOLI...". This recent media coverage is so slanted to make it look as though TJ was almost a muslim himself. Think about it!