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My letter to the Anti-Defamation League

As sent on the contact form on their website:

I write in hopes that the ADL will re-think its position on the Park51 project in Manhattan. It troubles and saddens me to think that the ADL, which I have long held in the highest esteem, refuses to take an unequivocal position against the anti-Islamic bigotry surrounding this issue.

I fully understand that the construction of an Islamic community center near the site of the 9-11 terrorist attacks may be an unwelcome reminder of that event for some people who were affected by it. And, I understand that it is sensitivity to that position that motivated the ADL to suggest an alternate site.

However, the fact is that the largest part of the negativity toward the project represents problem of bigotry and ignorance that the ADL should stand against. A smaller part is fueled by simple and forgivable conflation of Islam with its extremist wings – an unfortunate conflation that this project will help to correct.

I urge Abraham Foxman and the ADL to reconsider their position on this project and to maintain the place they have historically earned as defenders of freedom, caretakers of the United States Constitution, and opponents of bigotry.

71 comments to My letter to the Anti-Defamation League

  • Just out of curiosity Ricky are you more in line with the guys who want no more mosques anywhere for any reason or would you just prefer that the New York Muslim Family Life Center be built a couple of more blocks up the street?

  • The sensibilities of someone who is against the building of the mosque on that site are largely (if not completely) based upon ignorance & bigotry.

    There have been a couple of feeble attempts to suggest a rationale that didn’t come from ignorance & bigotry, but so far no success… and not much effort even.

    In fact, the dialogue from the “against” faction has primarily been premised on nothing more than cartoonish stereotypes about what Islam is, and the notion that the guilt for 9/11 should be collective and willingly accepted by all Muslims. None of the arguments work without those features. And those features are bigoted on their face. Stereotypes and collective guilt are defining features of bigotry.

    while a religion that, let’s face it, is pretty harsh on homosexuals, have nary ONE WORD put forth about the intentions of their hearts.

    Christianity and Islam as practiced today exhibit some pretty shitty and bigoted attitudes and doctrines toward homesexuality. There, I said it. Are you happy?

    but the group leaning towards Sharia law………crickets?

    I don’t get a lot of opportunities to criticize Sharia law… You know there isn’t a lot of that in the U.S. Truth is I don’t know much about it. When I get an opportunity to learn enough about it to make an educated denouncement, then that probably means its close enough to me to care about. And in the meantime, I’m not going to give up criticizing ignorance and bigotry that I do know about. If anyone thinks they can use the perceived double standard to hide from criticism, they are welcome to try.

  • RW

    “[G]uys who want no more mosques anywhere for any reason”?
    Wow, for a second there I thought you were going to go overboard with hyperbole, Buck. :)
    Exactly who are these “guys”?

    I summed up my thoughts here:

    Look, I’m not really against allowing a mosque, this IS a free country (in some aspects. Apparently it’s okay to have a mosque, as long as you don’t light a Marlboro inside one) but neither do I think someone who is against it is a bigot. side note: you guys are really overplaying that card..

    Hey, I think that someone should have the right to burn the American flag, while at the same time I can acknowledge that the person wielding the match is an insensitive prick with zero class who shouldn’t do it.

    My argument is against this* episode’s entry into the “but, those people who disagree with me are bigots” contention.

    Gutfeld does have a good point: when are some of the folks defending muslims gonna go after their anti-gay professions with a fraction of the vigor vis-a-vis bigotry that they go against, say, someone looking to buy an NFL team (remember when it was necessary for Rush to be a racist?)?

    * I can no longer say ‘the latest’, since there have, predictably, been more since the creation of the post.

  • RW… I get it that you have a maximalist notion of what constitutes bigotry. I’m pretty sure you’ll concede there is bigotry involved in, for instance, an actual lynch mob doing an actual lynching. But short of that, what is the minimum threshhold for considering an attitude or expression bigoted?

  • RW

    There have been a couple of feeble attempts to suggest a rationale that didn’t come from ignorance & bigotry, but so far no success… and not much effort even.

    Good to know.
    I’ll back outta this one, now, since we’ve established that there is NO ARGUMENT made in opposition to yours that hasn’t included ignorance or bigotry.

    I guess look forward to finding out who you guys are told to call bigots next week (oh, where the charge comes from and the charge itself, I know. Hell, we all know. The puzzle is the actual target).

  • I’ll back outta this one, now, since we’ve established that there is NO ARGUMENT made in opposition to yours that hasn’t included ignorance or bigotry.

    Yeah, like that’s my fault. Take it up with the people making those arguments.

  • RW

    Oops, left off this part: I think Wal-Mart is acting like a conglomeration of pricks in trying to build on that property. Yeah, they should find somewhere else.

    And, no, doesn’t make me a bigot to have that opinion. I actually came to that conclusion w/o regard to the ethnicity or religion of the folks involved, but rather the residents & neighbors of the property itself (dare I say sensibilities? I dare, I dare!!!)

    But short of that, what is the minimum threshhold for considering an attitude or expression bigoted?

    Too dynamic to assess a benchmark. Like pornography, I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.

  • I actually came to that conclusion w/o regard to the ethnicity or religion of the folks involved

    Super! Super Duper! And if you can make a reasonable me that any of the people decrying the Park51 project actually came to that conclusion w/o regard to the religion of the folks involved – for instance – that they would have also equally decried a humanist organization, a Baptist Church, or a Jewish Synagogue, then you are most of the way toward showing that they weren’t involved in bigotry.

  • So you don’t mind the Muslim Family Life Center being built you just want it moved a couple of blocks up the street? Right?

    And I know that you know there are people in this country who do not believe that Muslims need to be here at all. Man, there is no way in hell you can live in the South and not rub up against some of those folks at some point in time. Towel headed sand niggers? You have never heard that term?

    I think every single argument against the Muslim Family Life Center is built upon a conclusion drawn in regard to the religion of the folks involved. Is that not a given? I thought that was what the entire tempest was all about.

  • RW

    So you don’t mind the Muslim Family Life Center being built you just want it moved a couple of blocks up the street? Right?

    I don’t care where they put it. It’s none of my business. I do understand how people in that area can be upset, though, yeah.

    I wonder how folks would react if some UT grad millionaire bought up all the property around Sanford Stadium and decorated everything bright orange? Or should the guy take the “sensitivities” of the people in the area into account, as we’re supposed to consider when Gutfeld proposes a bar?

    Tolerance IS supposed to be a two way street, right?

    And I know that you know there are people in this country who do not believe that Muslims need to be here at all.

    No, I don’t know a single person like that.
    Brings new appreciation for the terms “bigotry” and “prejudice”, Buck.

    I do know, personally, a few racist lifetime FDR Democrats, though. You know what I’d be doing if I assumed that they represented a significant portion of an entire region? Well, look up those quoted terms.

    Man, there is no way in hell you can live in the South and not rub up against some of those folks at some point in time. Towel headed sand niggers? You have never heard that term?

    No, not once in my lifetime. I’ve heard “towel head” and, gosh, back during the first gulf war I heard “sand nigger” thrown out to describe Iraqi soldiers, but never put together, and definitely not aimed at Muslims.
    Methinks thou doth projecteth a bit much, Buck.

    The classic “good ole boys” that I knew growing up? Those actual racists that you continually refer to, especially after getting riled up over at Cole’s house of crazy, were overwhelmingly Democrats who hated Ronald Reagan, Buck. But, it never dawned on me to assume that they were the norm. That would be….well, pre-judging an entire group of people, most of whom I don’t even know.

    I did know of one guy who joined the KKK back in the 80′s. BIG racist. I avoided the guy, even though I had to work at a plant w/him one summer. Thing was, he was a huge Democrat who even ran for local office. Later, though, he had his road to Damascus moment, literally, and found Jesus. He saw the error of his ways & later personally befriended some of the blacks that he worked with all those years. Oh, yeah….now he’s a conservative Republican.

    Or, as the on-line left would say: Dixiecrat racist Right Winger.

    I think every single argument against the Muslim Family Life Center is built upon a conclusion drawn in regard to the religion of the folks involved.

    Duly noted. I have no doubt that the background of Islam, vis-a-vis ground zero, pays no small part.

    Which could be part of the problem with the back-and-forth amongst those so invested in this story, apparently some folks are completely blind to the history involved (as we learned from JournOlist, sometimes the strategy of pretending that things we dislike don’t even exist is quite active).

    Which is why Gutfeld is a freaking genius, as he’s exposed the blatant hypocrisy of so many who are hip-deep in this story.

    Why *did* those folks refuse to consider the free land that Patterson offered?

  • RW

    Side story about that guy, above. He actually filed a permit & had a KKK rally in the town square. 6 people participated. Most of the rest of the town stood back along the store-line and gazed, but most shook their heads.

    Me? I was a college student back then, but I heard about it, went down to see if it was real, got a flyer (5 misspelled words, BTW), went home and made “Andrew Young for Governor” posters & hung on my car and drove by the town square (to my mom’s protests, as she feared for my safety) campaigning for the black Democrat candidate for governor.

    Yeah, I was a smart-a$$ back then, too. :)

  • RW

    Somewhat O/T: Holy crap, check out the last graph.

  • RW

    Charles, The Hammer, Krauthammer:

    A place is made sacred by a widespread belief that it was visited by the miraculous or the transcendent (Lourdes, the Temple Mount), by the presence there once of great nobility and sacrifice (Gettysburg), or by the blood of martyrs and the indescribable suffering of the innocent (Auschwitz).

    When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there — and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized or misappropriated.

    That’s why Disney’s 1993 proposal to build an American history theme park near Manassas Battlefield was defeated by a broad coalition that feared vulgarization of the Civil War (and that was wiser than me; at the time I obtusely saw little harm in the venture). It’s why the commercial viewing tower built right on the border of Gettysburg was taken down by the Park Service. It’s why, while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive.

    And why Pope John Paul II ordered the Carmelite nuns to leave the convent they had established at Auschwitz. He was in no way devaluing their heartfelt mission to pray for the souls of the dead. He was teaching them a lesson in respect: This is not your place; it belongs to others. However pure your voice, better to let silence reign.
    []…..

    America is a free country where you can build whatever you want — but not anywhere. That’s why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn’t meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all.

    These restrictions are for reasons of aesthetics. Others are for more profound reasons of common decency and respect for the sacred. No commercial tower over Gettysburg, no convent at Auschwitz — and no mosque at Ground Zero.

    Build it anywhere but there.

    The governor of New York offered to help find land to build the mosque elsewhere. A mosque really seeking to build bridges, Rauf’s ostensible hope for the structure, would accept the offer.

    Interesting.

  • You know what… if it was really *at* the WTC site, I could find some common ground with Krauthammer. Yeah, I agree that we treat that site as sacred ground, and we do acknowledge that in a sense it belongs to the victims. Without downplaying the fact that the victims included Muslim Americans, they weren’t just Muslim Americans. So it is appropriate that the site being kept for a memorial and not being built upon by some narrow subset of victims.

    But none of that applies to a Burlington Coat Factory two blocks away and not visible from the site. At that point (and you can tell it from the language of objectors to the site) it is a matter of the notion that a Muslim presence – a specifically Muslim presence – there is somehow an affront to the memory of the event. It’s the language of purity and contamination – the language of disgust. The strip club on the same block isn’t an affront to the WTC site in the minds of these people. But an Islamic community center somehow is.

    Props to Krauthammer for skillfully avoiding the issues at hand and avoiding saying anything nasty himself. Shame on him for trying to legitimize the movement.

  • Buck

    Man Kennesaw, Georgia must one of the most progressive towns in the entire state.

    Hell, I heard towel head and sand nigger almost as much as I heard red and yellow black and white they are precious in His sight.

    I guess we just grew up in two different places at two different points in time. I can remember when you told me that you had never heard the phrase “a nigger can’t play quarterback” and I could not believe it.

    I can remember sitting in Sanford stadium when Eddie McAshan was playing QB for Georgia Tech and a couple of guys behind me waving a flag and shouting “Super Nigger!” to the top of their lungs. A lot of folks pointing and laughing but I didn’t see anybody who seemed particularly offended by it.

    I guess being up here in the foot of the mountains exposed me to some atypical southern boys :-)

  • RW

    Man Kennesaw, Georgia must one of the most progressive towns in the entire state.

    Actually, I’m around Cartersville, but since progressive = intolerant a-hole who hates, with a searing passion, anyone who disagrees with them (but who celebrates black statists, gay Marxists, transgendered nanny-staters, Muslim liberals….look, we’re inclusive!), I’m glad the area is very conservative. :)

    [/rimshot]

    Not quite Libertarian enough for my personal preferences in some areas, but the rest will do.

  • RW

    That should be a small-l libertarian.

  • Well you can look on the bright side this morning Ricky. You and Howard Dean are in agreement.

    I admit the whole thing baffles me. There is a lot of talk about the crazy 27% of the population and on this issue I fall into the camp of the crazy 27%.

    My wife and I do not discuss politics very much and she asked me last night, “Am I supposed to be upset about the mosque they are building in New York?” Her mother is a huge Jack Van Impe fan and is hyperventilating about all of this. Without going into the entire argument I just told my wife she should feel about it however she feels about it and to hell with it. She said it didn’t bother her and it kind of worried her that it didn’t bother her because it was bothering everybody she talked to every day.

    It made me feel good that Radley Balko pretty much takes my position on the issue. But then again I always try to not care who agrees or disagrees with me.

    I know it is going to come off insulting but the feeling I get around here from the folks I talk with is that if the project is built then that is going to mean that the score is Mohammed 1 and Jesus 0.

    I just don’t see it that way.

  • RW

    Well you can look on the bright side this morning Ricky. You and Howard Dean are in agreement.

    Well, first smijer has my sincere sympathies, seeing as how his (IIRC) favored pic for CIC is now, officially, a bigot. Not “wrong”, not “misguided”, but…..a bigot. Remember, none of the arguments against the mosque were legit: all were bigoted.

    Ah, it was just a matter of time. Usually the blatant instances of duplicity are brushed aside with the “it’s not the same thing!” retort, but this one’s gotta sting the far lefties since they can’t use it & it seems like daily that more & more of their favored Dems are, well, bigots, using their own definitions (of course, they change daily).

    Second, I’ve never said they should move the mosque (except in jokes on twitter and the like). I have no opinion, I’m not in NYC. It’s none of my biz, I’m libertarian on the issue. What I’ve said, and tried to impress because I knew that it was just a matter of time before it came back to bite, was that I understood the anger of the folks against it & that being against it doesn’t make one a bigot.

    I do believe that I’ve consistently stated that a lot of folks are throwing around the “racist/bigot” card with reckless abandon. If you go back over the last 6 months or so, it’s tough to find a political newsmaker issue of the moment where the people on the right weren’t called bigots, in one form or another. AAMOF, I can’t recall the last ‘debate’ where that wasn’t the stance taken by the left side: USSC noms, CA referendums, unemployment bennies, illegal immigration, the war in Afghanistan, tea party rallies, ACORN, Sherry Sherrod….other than the oil spill and whoever the latest comedian’s routine mocking Sarah Palin for being a redneck, I can’t recall any actual debates taking place, just ad hominem accusations of bigotry.

    Then again, it’s campaign season, what are the Democrats gonna do, run on their record? :)

    Heck, everyone knows how to keep the mosque from being built in NYC: just say they serve food w/trans-fats or have ashtrays in their breakrooms. Then, watch the “freedom/rights” crowd will change their tune, led by Bloomberg. Some rights are more important than others, you know.

  • RW, I haven’t heard Dean’s talk, but I don’t doubt that his position – if it is in line with the anti-mosquers – comes from the same place the rest of them do, and that his arguments all rely on assumptions that are bigoted.

    That said, I’m on record here & elsewhere as not buying into the bull-shit defense that it’s out of order to call someone a “bigot”. I didn’t call any damn body a bigot. I said that they were engaged in bigotry. And they are. And if Howard Dean is doing it, I’ll put him right there on the list with the ADL, Harry Reid and Governor Paterson. I’m not one of those who thinks that if you’ve ever lied you are a liar and if you’ve ever stolen then you are a thief and all of that nonsense.

    Some people make bigotry a way of life – probably nothing anybody can do about that. And those are the people who earn the name “bigot”. But, some people express bigotry only under certain circumstances. And the only way they are going to stop is if someone manages to get their attention (“you’re being bigoted here” usually does it for me), and convinces them to re-think. So “____ is not a bigot” is nothing more than a distraction to keep people in their comfort zones so they don’t have to acknowledge bad behavior or correct it. And I’m not into that.

  • Not “wrong”, not “misguided”, but…..a bigot. Remember, none of the arguments against the mosque were legit: all were bigoted.

    “wrong” and “misguided” are general terms. “bigoted” is a specific one. Draw a Venn Diagram, and “bigoted” is a little circle inside the other two.

    And yes… some attitudes and actions are wrong. And some of them are wrong in this specific way. And, when every argument in favor of an action relies on underlying assumptions that are wrong in this specific way, then it’s a pretty good bet that the attitudes and actions are this specific kind of wrong.

    Sure, it’s possible to make an argument against the mosque that could not be deconstructed to reveal bigotry… They are rarely made because, frankly, they aren’t what motivates the opposition. (Again, sometimes there is such thing as right and wrong. There aren’t any good reasons to walk up to a stranger you’ve never met & step on his toe, either… sorry… it’s just that way.) Such arguments are unpersuasive at best. At worst, they are deliberate smokescreens and diversions… i.e. “that Burlington Coat Factory should be preserved as a national landmark”. How do we know it is a smokescreen? Well, they pretty much told us on their web-site that they wanted to prevent mosque qua mosque and that the landmark approach was just a strategy. But even if they hadn’t been so brazen, we could have deduced it from the fact that they weren’t leading a campaign to make all the surrounding buildings landmarks.

    So, yeah… if you think you’ve heard an argument that isn’t a smokescreen and doesn’t boil down to bigotry, mention it to me… I’ll either give you due props, or show you why it really is one of the other two.

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