Multiculturalism, Dennis Prager, Keith Ellison, and Me:

I criticize Dennis Prager's Tuesday column in today's National Review Online. Here's the introduction:

The U.S. Constitution is a multiculturalist document. Not in all senses, of course: It tries to forge a common national culture as well as tolerating other cultures. But it is indeed multiculturalist in important ways. We shouldn’t forget that when we’re tempted to categorically condemn supposedly multiculturalist changes to our constitutional practices.

Consider what Dennis Prager — whose work I often much like -— wrote in his most recent column:

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

He should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism — my culture trumps America’s culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison’s favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.

This argument both mistakes the purpose of the oath, and misunderstands the Constitution. In fact, it calls for the violation of some of the Constitution’s multiculturalist provisions....

To read the rest, go here.

Thanks to my UCLA colleague Stephen Bainbridge, who alerted me to Prager's column and who has written more along these lines.