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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

  • RW

    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.

    Once again (as always, seemingly), to take a play from 43′s speech, either you’re with us or…..you’re a bigot.

    I say we have a compromise: build the mosque, but have a confederate memorial erected right next to it. None of those folks crying “bigot” would have no problem with that expression, mistakenly conflating pride with a smaller segment that represents a history of oppression, would they?

  • RW

    Ugh, horrible syntax on my part.

  • I say we have a compromise: build the mosque, but have a confederate memorial erected right next to it. None of those folks crying “bigot” would have no problem with that expression, mistakenly conflating pride with a smaller segment that represents a history of oppression, would they?

    You mean like this?

    No, confederate pride is not like a religion, and it is realism (or alternatively, forgivable ignorance), not bigotry, that leads me to doubt that the majority of “confederate pride” activists are innocently celebrating the aspects of their southern heritage that had nothing to do with slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, etc., etc.

    I’ve talked to a number of people at work, on the internet, etc… watched the news. The anti-mosquers who are not, like a candidate for Governor of Tennessee, saying that Islam is a cult and therefore not protected by the first amendment, are calling “them” our attackers – “them” being anyone who is Muslim (or at least anyone who is Muslim and wants the Park51 project). These same folks “inform” me of what Islam teaches and what Muslims believe – without having the first clue (and being ridiculously and horribly wrong). Yes – that’s bigotry. The right way, the normal way, the way that shows basic human respect, is to either confess ignorance to the teachings of Islam and the content of the hearts of American Muslims, or to take the time to learn deeply about the religion and its adherents before spouting off.

    I heard one (1) lady on the news who opposed the project for reasons consistent with basic human dignity. She didn’t care how the building was used as long as there was no new construction, because she felt like ash and dust still there were part of remains.

    Newt Gingrich knows better than this. Hell, George W. Bush knew better than this. I hope that Newt Gingrich will seek forgiveness instead of seeking high office.

  • btw – that candidate for Governor was Ron Ramsey – not Basil Marceaux.

  • RW

    No, confederate pride is not like a religion, and it is realism (or alternatively, forgivable ignorance), not bigotry, that leads me to doubt that the majority of “confederate pride” activists are innocently celebrating the aspects of their southern heritage that had nothing to do with slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, etc., etc.

    I have no problem with that conclusion.
    Maybe we don’t have enough evidence of pizza parlor bombings, IED’s, beheadings & hijackings to consider whether or not a chunk – and it ain’t minute – of Islam has a problem with, shall we say, tolerance. I guess all those Buddhist beheadings & Christian stonings of adulterers muddy the water & make all “religion” the problem. Especially since we now, supposedly, have enough evidence to conclude that the tea partiers are racists with a tendency towards violence.

    Tea partiers: potential intolerant felons
    Muslims: if you hint anything other than “worshipers” you’re a bigot. Oh, and make sure your wives cover their faces.

    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.

  • RW

    Okay, if not a confederate memorial, how’s about a Hooters on one side and a hot dog stand on the other?

    Comments?

  • It’s in lower manhattan… there is already a “gentleman’s club” in the vicinity, and no doubt a dozen hot dog vendors in spitting distance. But, what? Just to be petty?

    The interplay between violence, irrationality, and religion is complex. No, in 2001 United States, you don’t hear much about religiously inspired malfeasance from non-Muslims.

    And yeah… Islam as it is practiced in many countries is abhorrent. I’ll say that and not be a bigot, because I won’t implicate Muslims who practice religion without doing abhorrent deeds all over America by saying so.

    Christianity isn’t the problem? No, not right here or right now. In fact, American Islam isn’t the problem. If you count American Muslims who become extremist and violent as a percentage of American Muslims, you can count those percentage points on a knuckle. You don’t need a whole finger.

    The funny thing is this – guess where Islam got the idea of stoning adulterers? If you guessed the Hebrew scripture – the Christian Old Testament – you guessed right. Is that an indictment of Christianity? Yeah – I think it is… I think Christianity should renounce every scripture that is morally contemptible. But they don’t. They call them “God’s Word”. And that’s fine… They are people and they are entitled to their beliefs.

    I don’t have to go all the way back to the Hebrew Scriptures to find all sorts of iniquity with which I could tar Christianity. I could point to all of it, say “that’s what Christianity teaches”, and justify to myself the attitude that Christians are less valuable than non-Christians and shouldn’t be treated the same. I could say that it brings back painful memories to have to see a Church because Christians did this, and Christians did that.

    It would be bigotry. The cross isn’t just a symbol of the crusades. The star & crescent isn’t just a symbol of 9/11. The confederate flag, on the other hand… that’s pretty much just a symbol of southern racism, and the south’s efforts to preserve slavery by leaving the United States.

  • RW

    But, what? Just to be petty?

    Is that to me or the people behind putting a mosque on the ground where radical muslims killed innocent humans in their warped name of Allah?

    The reason doesn’t matter: If someone were to put in an application for a Hooters to be erected next to that mosque would you have a problem with it?

  • It was a question… But it is funny how many people have libeled the Park51 project as an effort to “declare victory” or mock the victims of 9/11 or whatever. The assumptions behind that…

  • RW

    But it is funny how many people have libeled the Park51 project as an effort to “declare victory” or mock the victims of 9/11 or whatever.

    Total number I’ve seen or heard: zero. I’m assuming that all those guilty of those offenses are being trumpeted on the favored lefty sites. That is, in a nutshell, what many political sites have become nowadays: “look at _____. Here’s what they said: __________ They’re such ______s, aren’t they? Let’s all mock and disdain them…see, aren’t we so much better than they are?” [obligatory links to media matters, tpm, drudge, etc., included]

    To answer the question: I’d give the same answer as I would those burning the flag. Yeah, they have a right to put up a Hooters, but they’d be insensitive pricks to put one up next to a mosque, which itself was erected, let’s not lie to ourselves, for other reasons besides a simple worship center.

  • RW

    The assumptions behind that…

    Apparently, assuming bigotry is the only acceptable assumption. I assume. :)

  • I came across them in conversations with people I know primarily, though I think they read from OneNewsNow or some such… I think I ran across it in my e-mail box from them or AFA or Townhall… or all three.

    which itself was erected, let’s not lie to ourselves, for other reasons besides a simple worship center.

    Abso-f’in-lutely right.

  • RW

    Thanks for the link on the right. I’m about a big an anti-smoking person as there is on this planet (loooooooong story) and think it’s a disgusting habit & I’m well aware of how hard it has been for you to push it aside. With that in mind, it gives me that ‘oozy’ feeling to see the text from Mayor Bloomberg, the guy who rewrote the law so that he could run again (I’m sure the libs would’ve welcomed Rudy Giuliani doing that with the same reception), telling us how free people should be able to use their private property as they please. Not even a glimmer of guilt coming from the words since that same chap doesn’t think they have the right to go into THEIR own room, close THEIR own door, and light up a cigarette.

    GOD, I love hypocrites like that. The pharisees could’ve learned something from the chutzpah of a nanny-statist telling us how open he is to freedom & private property. [jewish dialogue pun intended] The guy tells you what you can eat, what you can drink & that you don’t have the right to smoke where he says, private property or no.

    And the libs love him & there’s nary a word from the NY media – which for all intents and purposes IS the mainstream media – about any of this.

    For all the ill that today’s Republican party has foisted upon us (whatever you say, I’ll probably agree; today’s GOP conservative) this tells me a lot, smijer, about the direction some quarters have no trouble traveling. Tells me a lot.

  • You talking about Obsidian Wings? I don’t know much about NYC politics… I remember hoping that Bloomberg didn’t run for President. I read someone else complaining about the smoking bans today. I won’t defend him on that… He gets a lot of points for this, though.

  • RW

    As usual, Dennis Miller says it best: That Muslims can build a mosque at the WTC tells you everything about America. That they WILL build it, tells you everything about Islam.

  • RW

    Oh, come on, he’s speaking in the general. It goes w/o saying that “all” Islam isn’t analogous w/those who attacked us & the like. Much like someone decrying Fox for being right wing, it’s a waste of time for me to go “but what about Geraldo, what about Greta, what about Colmes, Lanny Davis, Ferraro, Bob Beckel, etc.” when I *know* what they’re meaning.

    Plus, this was from twitter, so he was at a character limit. Give the comedian the same benefit of the doubt that you’d give an Muslim cleric. :)

  • It’s tough to be a comic I guess. I don’t know.

  • RW

    Just pretend he was talking about the tea party, since blanket assumptions and guilt by association are en vogue, and all will be fine. :)

  • RW

    Looks like a lot of Bloomberg voting deep-blue liberals are also ignorant bigots.

  • Yep – it cuts both ways. Majorities can be bigoted. People who are ordinarily reasonable, tolerant, and inclusive can be bigoted. Liberals can be bigoted. I got no problem with the knife cutting both ways, as long as we can all acknowledge that the knife cuts.

    In fairness to NYC residents, the same poll shows a majority of Manhattanites are in favor of the project. Not because they are by nature better thinkers with better hearts, but because they are close enough to the community to have little choice but to learn about their neighbors and to get an idea about the nature of the project.

  • Also in fairness to Americans at large… we are a very dumb people. Thoughtfulness is a value that does not exist here. A guy at work asked me what I thought about Newt the day he suggested he might run for Pres…

    …so I said that I didn’t have much respect for him because of the John Edwards stunt he pulled, that his politics were to the right of mine, and that his pandering on the mosque disgusted me.

    Reason? Gingrich is in a position to know better and supposedly makes a career out of public service.

    Regular folk are preoccupied with life and are subject to knee-jerk reactions on issues that they are not closely connected to. I didn’t lose much respect for the guys around here that were howling about the mosque. I lost a lot of respect for the guys who want to be (or are) our “leaders” and who want to guide opinions in editorial content in magazines, newspapers and on television and radio who did the same.

  • btw… I’m not acknowledging the tea-party defensiveness for good reasons…

  • RW

    What are the chases that they could be reasonable, tolerant, and inclusive, while at the same time having an opinion on the matter that differs from that which you prefer?

  • Same as the chances that they could be reasonable, tolerant, and inclusive in general. Differences of opinion are extremely widespread, and I try to respect such differences. I even try to respect the differences, after a fashion, when they are grounded in ignorance or bigotry.

  • jadarm

    How many square miles of vacant country do we have in the United States? Why choose this particular spot? I’m sorry bro, I am all for tolerance but this sounds nothing more than a big slap in the face, …almost laughable. Why not raise a Nazi memorial flag near a newly built Hitler Youth museum near Auschwitz? Why not build a memorial to Hitler and his arian visions right next to the newly built museum in Stalingrad? Why don’t we open an authentic sushi bar right on top of the remains of the Oklahoma? …hell, we could even sing Karaoke every Wednesday nights. Maybe the Taliban would even allow us to erect large Christian churches all over Afghanistan and erect large monuments and statues in Christ’s and Jehova’s honor.

    I realize that all Muslims are not extremists but it seems to me that the one’s that aren’t clearly lack a decent amount of common sense and common decency.

  • I realize that all Muslims are not extremists but it seems to me that the one’s that aren’t clearly lack a decent amount of common sense and common decency.

    I guess they must be. I bet they would be the sort that would compare a house of worship to a Nazi memorial flag. That’s be pretty effin’ indecent, wouldn’t it?

    It make me chuckle – but not with mirth – to hear people point out how in oppressive regimes like say, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, there is little freedom to worship.. Can’t build a church where you want… that kind of thing……..

    …….In order to make the case that we should be more like that here.

    That’s expressive of the kind of common sense I can do without.

    Common sense and common deceny? Look to thine own eye, brother.

  • jadarm

    Well, a bunch of infidels didn’t bomb a whole hell of a lot of innocent civilians in the Dubai tower just to get back at the government of that country.

    If your son had have been on the 78th floor of the south tower on 9/11 would you still be so vocal on their behalf?

    …I AM looking through my own eye….BROTHER.

  • Hmmm.. so what’s your formula exactly… Some Muslim extremists killed a lot of Americans … so … how does that result in Muslims shouldn’t be able to set up an interfaith community center within two blocks of the site? Is there logic in there somewhere or is it just the same bullshit we are getting from the spittle spraying mouths of bigoted demagogues on TV?

    I’ll answer your question in two parts:
    1) from here

    Herbert Ouida, whose son was killed in the attacks, supports the project as a way to bridge cultural divide.
    “I understand the anger, the bitterness and hatred, but it only generates more hatred,” Ouida said. “Such a large part of the world has this faith, and to say anyone who has this faith is a terrorist, it’s terrible.”

    Yeah, if I was half the man Herbert Ouida is, I would.

    2) on “their” behalf? Who is “they”? The people responsible for the attacks? Or for the people about whom it is thought that their efforts to contribute something to their community is tantamount to a “slap in the face”? Or are they both “them”, meaning that you only said “I realize that all Muslims are not extremists” as cover to hide behind so that you wouldn’t be called on your failure to incorporate that knowledge into a grown-up perspective on this situation…?

    As to slaps in the face, check your e-mail.

    BROTHER

  • jadarm

    Your email was way off base, made no sense as to what I was saying. It’s also clear you had no vested interest in the thousands that died on 9/11.

    Be an apologist for the rest of your life if it pleases you. Go to New York City and hold up the biggest sign you can find lobbying for the Mosque to be built.

    …and I appreciate your honest answer as to how you would feel had your own civilian son been on the 78th floor of the south tower on 9/11. You stole second base but slid past the bag.

  • Your email was way off base, made no sense as to what I was saying.

    Of course not.

    It’s also clear you had no vested interest in the thousands that died on 9/11.

    It’s also pretty clear that you don’t know me. Which is odd – because you’ve had a chance to.

  • jadarm

    I know you, I’ve heard you talk and I have read your writings, …sometimes they conflict.

  • RW

    It make me chuckle – but not with mirth – to hear people point out how in oppressive regimes like say, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, there is little freedom to worship.. Can’t build a church where you want… that kind of thing……..

    …….In order to make the case that we should be more like that here.

    Except in some cases. There are times when we need to make laws pointed at specific folks (usually religious types who have had folks act extreme from time to time) who might place themselves in an area where others who have property nearby may not want them hanging around & doing things like….peaceably holding signs, praying out loud and talking to people entering & trying to convince them to find the “right way” (some might even call it ministering).

    Which is why we need buffer zones around abortion clinics.

    I wonder if Mike Bloomberg wrote an op-ed condemning the local governments for conflating peaceful religious types (aka, fundamentalist extremists) with its extremist wings & thus infringing on the rights of those American citizens (aka, bigots) from assembly?

  • yeah – cause this is a lot like that.

    Tell you what… Keep an eye on the WTC site. For every time someone screams out the Park51 window at a visitor (“whore!”, for instance – or “infidel!”… or any form of verbal harassment), you get a point. Every time someone from Park51 shoots and kills a WTC center visitor, you get ten points. When you get to ten points, give me a holler & we’ll talk.

    Let me anticipate your next move (and God, I wish this wasn’t a chess game)… no, the abortion clinic “protesters” who ruined it for all the peaceful busybodies aren’t nearly as bad as the 9/11 bombers who ruin it for the ordinary Muslims. That isn’t a point in your favor.

    You see buffer zones are set up to protect against an ongoing and realized threat of violence and harassment from people who target the clinics and make it impossible to get into or out of them without coming into close proximity of themselves. This threat comes from within the community of protesters and includes a substantial portion of their activity. The buffer zone only provides safe passage from the car on the street to the entrance. It doesn’t manage to make it so that the people in the clinic don’t have to know that their are Christians worshiping in the area, or even that there are pro-lifers protesting in the area.

    BTW, do you think protesters coming closer to abortion clinics than Park51 is to WTC after Paul Hill is a “slap in the face” indicating that those protesters just want to declare victory for Paul Hill’s actions and rub abortion providers’ faces in it? Why not?

  • RW

    For every time someone screams out the Park51 window at a visitor (“whore!”, for instance – or “infidel!”… or any form of verbal harassment), you get a point.

    If so, I want many MSMers, who counted 15 instances of John Lewis being called a n#$$er by the tea partiers only to later have been found to be incorrect by way of every available video known to be in existence which shows the current count to be zero, doing the tally for me! I figure by the time I finish this comment, the count should be a few dozen, at least. :)

    This threat comes from within the community of protesters and includes a substantial portion of their activity.

    Gee, if some leader, pol, writer says that exact same sentence about a certain segment of Islam (they stopped at simple protesting a long time ago, too girly, I suppose) they’re bigots & should know better.

    Exact.
    Same.
    Sentence.

    =

    and rub abortion providers’ faces in it?

    Nope, and neither do I think that in the case of the mosque. You’re asking me to argue from the position of the strawman (what you heard someone else say/write), which I’m not willing to do, because I agree with you.

    Again, I have no problem with the mosque, legally. Meh, to me it’s like someone putting up a liquor store as close as legally possible to a church: completely legal, but kinda dick-ish to do. And the dude behind the mosque, saying that about the USA? Yeah, he’s a dick (tolerance my a$$). But, that ain’t illegal (thank goodness, or I’d be serving my 3rd decade). My only contention is with the latest “they’re racists/bigots/homophobes/intolerant” incarnation is, yet again, being overplayed.

    Exact. Same. Sentence.
    Well, unless one comes at it from the standpoint that pro-lifers are more likely to be violent than Muslims. Let’s check the evidence, starting with pizza parlors or…Jews.

    I think I’ve made my point.

    Have a good one, buddy. I’m off to watch my fantasy baseball team go down in flames like someone drawing a cartoon of mohammed [I kid. No, wait, I don't]. :)

  • RW

    Funny that the new boogeyman in this story is……Greg Gutfeld.

    Sometimes, you can’t make this stuff up.

  • There are more villains than I can count. I see Gutfield’s act as a side-show clown more than anything.

    Then you’ve got the usual creeps like Pamela Gellar trying to steal the show.

    And in the main ring, you’ve got Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin holding hands with David Paterson and the ADL wallowing in the kind of filth that Gellar & company produce. That’s what’s really scary.

  • RW

    What I see as scary:

    Saying “maybe they should build it elsewhere”? = Bigotry.
    That group saying homosexuals devilish = Shhh, we’ll defend you against those bigots.

    Gutfeld is a freaking genius.
    -
    Thank God for the internet, so that Charles Johnson can tell us to hate Pamela Gellar, for I wouldn’t even know who she was if not for hard work and diligence of his constant background & research into smearing people.

  • RW

    Whoops, it’s spreading: Bigots seek to keep private enterprise from their right to build. We’ll have to find out if the local pols are decent guys & make sure the building of the site can go forward.

    Or, if they’re bigots.

  • And Bryan Fischer. Don’t forget Bryan Fischer. Surely he belongs somewhere in this Greatest Show On Earth.

  • His current research explores contemporary Muslim sexuality, including how lesbian, gay and transgendered advocate for supportive communities within the Islamic tradition. He has been quoted in Omid Safi’s book, Progressive Muslims: on gender, justice and pluralism and Voices of Islam and he has been interviewed on a BBC documentary on gay Muslims in 2006. Raised in Hawaii, Siraj received a Ph.D. from Duke University and was the recipient of research awards from the Fulbright Fellowship, the American Institute of Maghribi Studies, the American Institute of Indian Studies, and the Charlotte Newcombe Fellowship in Religion and Ethics from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation at Princeton.

    That’s from the website of “that group”, about one of their Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow, Scott Kugle.

    I didn’t see the word “devilish” in there anywhere.

    So, what are your feelings on groups that say homosexuality is devilish?

    Just to clarify…

    I put my arm around your shoulder and tell you some of my best friends are Baptists, and I think you have every right to build a Baptist Church. But, there are people in this community who remember something bad a Baptist did, and it is very rude of you to impose your Baptist Church here in this community. Maybe you should take your religion elsewhere.

    Nothing wrong with that, right?

  • The church of Wal-mart…Always low tithes!

  • Yeah, Buck… Fischer is a real “values voter”. But that has a whole new meaning to me now that we have the First Church of Wally-World.

  • RW

    So, what are your feelings on groups that say homosexuality is devilish?

    Well, you must keep in mind their sensibilities.

  • nah, that’s only if you want to build dialog. So far I haven’t noticed that any of these assholes give two shits for dialog. As a poke in the eye, though, gutfeld’s efforts are having pitifully small effect.

  • RW

    As a poke in the eye, though, gutfeld’s efforts are having pitifully small effect.

    Oh, I disagree, wholeheartedly. It’s picked up a lot of feedback, which was his whole intention.

  • RW

    nah, that’s only if you want to build dialog.

    Uh-huh.
    Why is considering the sensibilities of someone who may disagree be the act of acquiescing to the whims of bigots?

  • I’m not sure what that question means. One way I parsed it, it answered itself. But I’m not sure if I parsed it correctly or not… so… ?

  • RW

    My take thus far:

    -It is best to keep in mind someone’s sensibilities (muslims, in this case) if you want to have a dialogue about being in favor of building the mosque (which assholes don’t want to have).

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

    Could be a mistake in my take, thus far, but it sure seems as though someone disagreeing with a mosque comes off has having some pretty shady intentions (again, reading someone’s heart) 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.

    The anti-mosqe folks are bigots, but the group leaning towards Sharia law………crickets?

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