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Anti-Defamation League - Follow Up

indigo_5 put up this entry the other day.

She begins, "So to catch anyone up who might not have been following this, there's a group that is planning to build something called the Cordoba House a few blocks away from the site of the World Trade Center. This will be a cultural center meant to promote tolerance and understanding through cultural and arts events as well as religion, and will contain prayer space. Because it is Muslim, the media has taken to calling it the 'Ground Zero Mosque.' Sarah Palin and several other conservative leaders have objected to its construction in the vicinity of the World Trade Center site. Best I can figure out, the only basis for their objection is that the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center on 9/11 were also Muslim."

I was aware of the controversy, but was unaware that the Anti-Defamation League chose to issue a statement also suggesting that the Islamic center should be located elsewhere.

I decided to contact them:

"Regarding the proposed Islamic community center near ground zero, I am
appalled that you have chosen to give credibility to the religious right
and people like Sarah Palin in their opposition to this center's
proposed location.

"I would not be surprised if the people who proposed the center decided
it would be better to locate elsewhere, but you should not have said
anything to encourage that outcome.

"I have read your statement and I understand your logic, but I am hugely
disappointed in this decision."

They responded:

"Thank you for reaching out to the Anti-Defamation League regarding our
statement on the proposed Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero. As
you know, our statement has generated a great deal of reaction, most of
which are based on a misunderstanding of our position.

"The key to our position is clearly expressed in the statement we
released (attached below for your reference):

"'In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World
Trade Center will cause some victims more pain - unnecessarily - and
that is not right.'

"Our position is about sensitivity. Everyone - victims, opponents and
proponents alike - must pay attention to the sensitivities without
giving in to appeals to, or accusations of, bigotry.

"In short, ADL firmly believes that this isn't about religious freedom,
or about who is an extremist and who is a moderate, or about political
points of view rather it is about the power of symbols to intensify the
pain felt by the victims of 9/11. We opposed the building of a
convent at Auschwitz - and were widely supported - for the same exact

I wrote back:

"Thank you for your prompt response. You were widely supported in your
decision to oppose a convent at Auschwitz. I cannot speak to that. I don't
know the time line or other details.

"The fact that you are not widely supported in this statement may mean that
you have indeed been misunderstood, but conversely, it may mean that the
situation is not the same.

"If I were among those planning the Islamic center, I would be inclined to
locate it elsewhere. I hear the message loud and clear, and I would relocate
for the safety and comfort of those who would use it.

"But I would also resent that your organization chose to add to the chorus of
those on the side of hate. I know you do not hate, but sadly, I still
contend that you have added to the credibility of those who do.

"You would have been of more service if you had kept silent."

It's really sad that this is an issue at all. Some people hate all Christians for the acts of the extremists. This is no different and just as wrong.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 2nd, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC)
We're dealing with this on a local level as well. A Muslim community center has been approved zoning in a neighboring county (the one where MTSU is located) and the local community is in an ignorant outrage over it. What you shared here is a very level headed and logical debate. What I'm hearing from community meetings over there is downright scary and sad.
Aug. 3rd, 2010 12:10 am (UTC)
Since I eat, live, and breathe lgbt issues, I often hear the phrase, "Gays are the last class of people that it's 'OK' to discriminate against." Unfortunately, that's not true.
Aug. 3rd, 2010 12:28 pm (UTC)
Yes, sadly there seems to be an endless string of people who can and are discriminated against on a daily basis.
Aug. 3rd, 2010 02:51 am (UTC)
It is a sad situation. I can understand their reasoning, but like you said, they're only adding to the many other voices who are speaking out of bigotry and hate.
Aug. 3rd, 2010 10:16 am (UTC)
I hope they come to understand this, too.
Aug. 4th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
Your words are heard because you use such a clear and powerful voice. I always like reading them, I feel more enlightened.

I agree with so many of your words. Thank you for giving them a voice much more rational than my "OMG you idiots!"
Aug. 5th, 2010 01:17 am (UTC)
Your verision is more concise. ;)
Aug. 4th, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC)
Great email, Bonnie. Their response is totally insufficient and actually a little insulting -- dismissing negative reactions they've gotten to their statement as being "based on a misunderstanding of [their] position?" Really? I think I understood their position perfectly well. And I found it unacceptable from an organization whose entire purpose is the fighting of religious intolerance.
"This isn't about religious freedom." Of course it is. If the hijackers had been Jewish and the Cordoba House contained a synagogue, I'm pretty sure the ADL would change their tune.
Aug. 5th, 2010 01:19 am (UTC)
Thanks, Rachel, and yes, I agree it is insulting.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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