Saturday, August 07, 2010

Zakaria Returns His Check

When the ADL first decided to come out in opposition to the proposed mosque/community center being built near the WTC site, Jon Chait declared that it was "such a fundamental violation of the ADL's principles that the group is no longer supportable."

This weekend, Fareed Zakaria became one of the highest profile figures to turn those words into action, electing to return an award and honorarium received from the ADL in 2005. He said that he can no longer in conscience accept either given the dramatic breach the ADL has just initiated with its own founding motives.

And you know what? He's right.

Abe Foxman responds here, and it remains clear that he doesn't get it. As I noted the other day, Foxman continues to believe he is the real victim here -- that he was just misunderstood, that folks today can't grasp "nuance". What I see is that Mr. Foxman believes that Muslims have an obligation to not have a community within some indeterminate radius in southern Manhattan, because other Muslims committing a terrorist atrocity nearby. They have an obligation to restrict their own rights, to limit their freedom of worship, because of the "feelings" of others. Even though we feel sympathy for the victims, insofar as their feelings manifest in the form of blind, unguided anger towards Muslims qua Muslims, they do not deserve the backing of a organization that putatively defends religious liberty.

So, good for Zakaria. And while I highly doubt that the ADL will be admitting their mistake any time soon, here is to hoping. They were wrong on this -- wrong on the deepest, most fundamental level -- and I believe it is a mortal wound to their credibility.

Oh, Joe and N. Friedman are both banned from commenting on this thread. I will delete comments from you sight unseen. Any other commenters are welcome.


Richard Jeffrey Newman said...

Foxman's response is kind of scary. "An appeal based solely on location and sensitivity" sounds, in this context, like a fancy shmancy name for a guilt trip; and I just don't get that he doesn't seem to get that Muslims died on September 11th as well and that his position basically vanishes those people and their memories. It is, truly, an astonishing position for him to take.

Cycle Cyril said...
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troll_dc2 said...

Cycle Cyril, your comments caused me to look up articles on Islam and both pedophilia and homosexuality. I did not like what I read, to put it mildly.

But the Muslims have a First Amendment right to build their center wherever they want, especially since they have met all of the legitimate government requirements.

David Schraub said...

CC, I'm intolerant of 65 post comment threads almost entirely composed of the same two people, yes.

Yours, on the other hand, I'm deleting because it's chock full of bigoted paranoia (and though I tolerate that in the public square, I don't need to tolerate it on my private blog). Do not reenter this thread.

Cycle Cyril said...
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Cycle Cyril said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Schraub said...

I can do this all day, baby.

Cycle Cyril said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Schraub said...

Dude, your big bad reveal was Andrew freakin' McCarthy. Did you forget the web address of the homeless guy in a tin hat (not to insult what I imagine to be your preferred sartorial choice)?

(Is it unsporting to make fun of people and then delete their comments when they respond? I suppose -- but I already warned Cycle Cyril to leave this thread three comments ago. Since I can't actually ban IP addresses, I have to resort to less direct -- but far more personally satisfying -- means).

Manny said...

I do not understand your approach, David. If you believe in debate, you should not ban those who would debate. Nothing N. Friedman or Joe has said is offensive or anything of the sort. So, I do not see you point.

Rebecca said...

I think that David is objecting to the fact that Joe & N.F. basically take over whole comment threads to argue with each other, regardless of the topic of the posting. They should probably take their disagreement to a private forum (like an email exchange), or maybe set up a blog together so they can each reply to the other's posts.

troll_dc2 said...

DS wrote: "Yours, on the other hand, I'm deleting because it's chock full of bigoted paranoia (and though I tolerate that in the public square, I don't need to tolerate it on my private blog). Do not reenter this thread."

But CC's post caused me to do some reading that I otherwise would not have done, and I suddenly came to understand why some fundamentalist Muslims are opposing efforts by countries like Yemen to raise the legal age for marriage.

The "bigoted paranoia" was useful here. In fact, I often find that out-of-line or factually wrong assertions are useful to the extent that they stimulate my thinking. I would hope that commenters can say what they really think here without worrying about how the blog owner will react.

David Schraub said...

Alas, they can't. Perils of posting on someone else's blog. It's a big internet -- he can play with the Stormfront boys if he wants.

But to provide some antidote to this nonsense, here's a great post from Hussein Ibish.

There are dark things in the history of all religions, and fundamentalists tend to suck regardless of which religion they represent. Opportunistic cherry-picking negative passages from one faiths holy books is not honest scholarship, it's merely an attempt to provoke hatred and scorn. Just as my Judaism isn't defined by those passages in the Bible which glorify genocide or ancient rulings sanctioning horrible things like pedophilia and stoning, Ibish has the same right to participate in the evolving tradition of his faith, nurturing a brand of Islam that doesn't tolerate any of these things. We're all in glass houses.

Bruce said...

Feel free to delete this comment or not.

I am unhappy with Zakaria's decision because: (1) he apparently didn't reach out to the ADL before making his decision and using his time on CNN in support of his personal decision and to chide the ADL; and (2) I think it reflects that strictest of paramaters within which Jewish advocacy groups and Jews have to remain in in order to maintain legitimacy. Indeed, Zakaria concedes that the ADL has been at the forefront in battles on behalf of freedom for all religious, including Islam. And, yet, instead of disagreeing with what I agree is Foxman's mistaken position on this particular issue, he takes an action to publicly other the ADL. Sorry, I'm not comfortable with what he did.

In addition, and maybe this is just me, but I happen to know first responders, including my own first cousin, and I also know the folks in the construction trades who will be asked to build the mosque center. I guess it's easy to call such a great swath of them intolerant bigots. I don't and I won't.

I think the center should be, has to be, built at this point. But I've seen quite a bit of intolerance by the really smart and progressive set who, unlike Mayor Bloomberg, whose performance was classic and classy, have taken the easy road by chiding easy targets like Palin, Gingrich, and in this case Foxman, and ignoring the existence of real pain amidst the bigotry.

Disappointing all around from where I sit.

troll_dc2 said...

From a property-rights perspective, the decision is so correct as to be scary.

I saw this on PrawfsBlawg:

"Leave aside the issues of religious free exercise, and focus for a moment on basic rule of law: 45 Park Place is located in a C6-4 zoning classification ("General Central Commercial") where houses of worship are allowed "as of right." Assuming that this particular proposed house of worship meets the setback, height, and bulk requirements of the Lower Manhattan special zoning district, the city's denial of a zoning compliance permit would be flagrantly ultra vires: Building inspectors, after all, cannot simply fabricate a new "honor-the-9/11-dead" zoning district on the spot. That B'nai B'rith and others think otherwise says volumes about how we have been conditioned to jettison rule of law by the sheer vagueness of landuse regulations."

troll_dc2 said...

I forgot to provide the link. It is:

One sentence in the post makes me want to vomit: "Second, some apparently intelligent commentators like B'nai B'rith have such little respect for the rule of law that they believe that the City can block the mosque on the theory that the mosque would be offensive to the memory of persons murdered in the 9/11 attack."

I have never understood the "offensive to the memory" concept with respect to some conduct or decision that is quite lawful. This is akin to the idea that something should not be done simely because doing it would be "insensitive." "Insensitivity" is the leading thought crime of the day. I cannot recall how many decisions I published in which judges pinned a Title VII claim on a party in part because of the party's alleged insensitivity, which was viewed as a marker for a discriminatory attitude. In fact, being called insensitive with respect to matters purportedly related to things like race and sex, not to mention religion, is not too different from being accused of sexual or other harassment. People so called are liable to be disciplined and required to undergo sensitivity training. The concept reeks of being called a Communist in the old days.