The article highlighted above is an all too typical example of taking quotes out of context and certainly out of the context of America’s most famous imam’s overall record. It is a record, by the way, that both Bush and Obama found moderate and positive enough to enlist the imam in spreading the word of America’s benefits to his fellow Muslims in other countries.
Frankly, if we want to parse this imam’s previous statements and ignore all of the other bridge-building he’s done, then let’s apply the same logic to Pastor Hagee, of Christians United For Israel and John McCain campaign fame. Hagee has said enough truly scary things about social, religious and political issues that he makes even the imam’s most questionable comments look mainstream in comparison.
But while it may be unwise to compare Hagee to the imam — the imam never suggested, as Hagee did, that Jews were partially responsible for their suffering in the Holocaust or that Catholics were morally deficient — Hagee’s overall record in support of Israel is (at least for many Jews) considered to be generally positive, just as the imam’s record of community outreach is truly outstanding. Regardless, the Jewish community, a community that must be particularly sensitive to the negative affects of stereotyping and rumor mongering, should be leading the effort to reject the blatant bigotry that now surrounds the Muslim community center building instead of participating in a search for nefarious motives or illegal financial connections
And while the ADL’s Abe Foxman, a tremendously valuable fighter of bigotry (and A list celebrities) can tell us that Mayor Bloomberg has it all wrong, and that it isn’t bigotry to question the imam’s backround, it’s clearly a manufactured argument now utilized to bolster his and the ADL’s initial “they should consider relocating” position.
It is as weak a defense as is citing the ADL’s opposition years ago to the nuns that wanted to build a convent near Auschwitz. In doing so, the ADL suggests that comparing 3000 deaths at two privately owned high rise office buildings, initiated by less than 20 out of 1.5 billion people, is morally equivalent to millions of deaths at a concentration camp directly caused by the German government.
What we really have here is a wonderful organization that has temporarily lost its discrimination bona fides on what should be a quintessential bigotry issue. The ADL can easily recover if they’ll just swallow an apology pill and revisit their initial decision. The totality of the ADL’s work is outstanding and they aren’t immune from mistakes. But until they walk their decision back, they and people like Emerson have positioned themselves as more interested in obfuscation than illumination and more interested in seeking “facts” that support a truly unsupportable and inconsistent position.