CAIR Ramps It Up on Dennis Prager
President Asked to Rescind Appointment of Dennis Prager
Wed Dec 6, 3:39 PM ET
To: City Desk
Contact: Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, 202-488-8787, or 202-744-7726, or firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on President Bush to rescind the appointment of radio talk show host Dennis Prager to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council because of his intolerant views toward Islam in American society.
Earlier this week, CAIR urged the taxpayer-supported museum's council to remove Prager because of a recent syndicated column in which he wrote that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, should be prevented from taking his oath of office using the Quran.
In his commentary, Prager wrote that swearing an oath on the Quran "undermines American civilization." "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," wrote Prager. "If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress."
Prager also wrote that Ellison's swearing on a Quran would "be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11."
On Tuesday, the Holocaust Museum distanced itself from Prager's views, but indicated that it did not have the power to remove him from the council. The museum's statement said: "Talk show host Dennis Prager speaks solely for himself. His statements do not reflect the position of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, whose board is not self-appointed."
A number of groups and commentators have rejected Prager's views. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called his comments "intolerant, misinformed and downright un-American." The New York Sun said today: "Mr. Prager is not only wrong but his comments are so outrageous and, by our lights, almost unbelievably ignorant."
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism said in a statement: "The criticism by Dennis Prager of Rep. Keith Ellison's use of the Koran for taking the oath of office is irreconcilable with American law and ideals as well as Jewish values and interests."
President Bush recently appointed Prager to the governing board of the Holocaust Memorial Museum for the remainder of a five year term expiring Jan. 15, 2011.
In a letter to President Bush, CAIR wrote:
"If put into practice, Mr. Prager's exclusionary and intolerant views would permanently marginalize every minority faith in America and would violate the constitutional ban on a state-sponsored religion.
"By taking action to disassociate your administration from Prager's remarks, you will send a positive message to all those in this country and worldwide who believe in religious diversity and mutual understanding.
"As a private citizen, Mr. Prager has the absolute right to hold whatever views he chooses, no matter how divisive or ill- informed. But as a presidential appointee to a taxpayer-funded institution, he must be held to a higher moral standard.
"We therefore respectfully request that you rescind your appointment of Dennis Prager to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council."
The U.S. Constitution states that "no religious test shall ever be required" to hold public office. No books of any kind are used in the actual swearing-in ceremony. Representatives may use any book they choose or no book at all, during later ceremonial events.
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
I'm sure Dennis Prager is an embarrassment to President Bush. I doubt if he will listen to CAIR.
The New York Sun was unable to get any comment from the Whitehouse.
From the Sun:
It was not immediately clear whether Cair's call for Mr. Prager's ouster would have any impact. The group's request was directed to the chairman of the Holocaust council, Fred Zeidman. He has no obvious authority to remove the talk show host, who was appointed to the council by President Bush in August.
Cair's credibility as an advocate for tolerance could also be undercut by its own links with Islamic groups that the government has accused of being fronts for terrorism. Cair describes itself as a "a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group," but at least three of its officials have been convicted of terrorism-related offenses. The organization has denied any connection to terrorism, but also has criticized nearly every terrorism-related prosecution brought by the federal government.
A White House spokeswoman had no comment last night on the controversy. Mr. Zeidman did not return a call seeking comment for this article.
Dennis Prager has been asking listeners on his show to write to CAIR and to write letters to the editor at the Star Tribune.