It appears that Prager is, at least technically, wrong. But his concerns are not those of a hate-monger. Prager is merely the quarterback in the latest scrimmage over ideas in post-9/11 America.
There is a growing sense, both here and in Europe, that Western civilization is under siege by the radical Muslim world, the expressed goal of which is to convert the rest of us. There's not much wiggle room in Sharia law for optional religious practices. Or, we note, accessorizing wardrobes.
On a certain level, one can understand Prager's view that introducing the Koran into American government is a taunt to traditional values.
On another level, those same values allow us to see Ellison's legitimate wish to swear on the holy book of his choosing. What Christian or Jew duly elected in a predominantly Muslim country would want to be forced to swear on a Koran?
The punch line, of course, is that our religious tolerance is shared by few Muslim nations, some of which won't allow a Bible to enter the country. Our better angels may yet be our worst enemies.
Obviously, Ellison could forgo the Koran and affirm as others have. That he insists on the Koran is probable cause to infer that he's trying to make a statement and assert himself as a Muslim in the U.S. Congress.
Before 9/11, that singular act might not have drawn attention. But that was then.
Hoisting the red flag, as Prager has done, isn't an act of bigotry -- or even schmuckery. It is the understandable reflex of a man, who, as Prager himself puts it, knows that a Bible-swearing nation has been, and will be, a better place for Jews to live than one that swears on the Koran.
Genius is not required to grasp that concept, but civility is critical to debating these issues. Name-calling and showboating righteousness -- or demanding punitive action against those who voice an unpopular opinion -- is the wrong way up a dead-end street.
Radical Islam loves that sort of dogmatic intransigence.