Saturday, July 31, 2010
The ADL Loses Its Mind
The Anti-Defamation League has issued a statement about the "debate" over the proposed Islamic Center near "Ground Zero" in Manhattan:
We regard freedom of religion as a cornerstone of the American democracy, and that freedom must include the right of all Americans – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths – to build community centers and houses of worship.
We categorically reject appeals to bigotry on the basis of religion, and condemn those whose opposition to this proposed Islamic Center is a manifestation of such bigotry.
However, there are understandably strong passions and keen sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center site. We are ever mindful of the tragedy which befell our nation there, the pain we all still feel – and especially the anguish of the families and friends of those who were killed on September 11, 2001.
The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location is counterproductive to the healing process. Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found.
In recommending that a different location be found for the Islamic Center, we are mindful that some legitimate questions have been raised about who is providing the funding to build it, and what connections, if any, its leaders might have with groups whose ideologies stand in contradiction to our shared values. These questions deserve a response, and we hope those backing the project will be transparent and forthcoming. But regardless of how they respond, the issue at stake is a broader one.
Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. 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.
There are understandably strong passions and keen sensitivities surrounding the Great War and our nation's defeat. We are ever mindful of the tragedy which befell our nation there, the pain we all still feel – and especially the anguish of the families and friends of those who were killed in that war.
The controversy which has emerged regarding Jewish communities within our nation is counterproductive to the healing process. Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe Germany would be better served if alternative locations could be found for these Jewish communities.
In recommending that a different location be found for the Jews, we are mindful that some legitimate questions have been raised about who is providing the funding to build and maintain their communities, and what connections, if any, their leaders might have with groups whose ideologies stand in contradiction to our shared values.
Proponents of Jewish communities may have every right to build at those sites, and may even have chosen their sites to send a positive message about Judaism. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, allowing Jewish communities in the shadow of our World War defeat will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.
Allegedly, during a protest against the mosque's construction, some Lebanese Christians wanted to join in. However, the mob thought they looked too Muslim and the police had to pull them away for their own safety.
That says a lot about mob mentality.
Therefore, they should know better.
Muslims were the pepetrators of 9/11.
No they weren't. People who happened to be Muslims perpetrated it. Just as someone who happened to be a Christian bombed the Murrah Federal Building. That's the problem with such racial and ethnic and religious bigotry ... sooner or later it can be turned against you.
... consider building a Shinto shrine at Pearl Harbor.
On their own property and in accordance with our laws? Of course they can. That's the point of having a free society. If you want to deny that freedom to others, you are closer to the bombers than the people who founded this country and fought for it ever since.
The ADL is not advocating the denial of freedom to anyone in that statement. They are recommending that another site be found for the proposed Islamic centre.
The connection is deeper than their merely 'happening to have been Muslim', at least according to the folk behind the 9/11 attacks themselves. It's like saying the armhole who murdered Dr Barnett Slepian (OB/GYN who performed abortions) just happened to be a Christian. It's a valid point that neither 9/11 nor the murder of Dr Slepian can be laid at the feet of all Muslims or Christians respectively, but the religious views of these perpetrators were not irrelevant to what they'd done and formed part of their motivations.
So, your analogy of Germans and Jews is a false one in that a group of Muslims (who very much saw themselves as living their religion in what they perpetrated) did, in fact, carry out the 9/11 attacks. However, there was, in fact, no group of Jews who brought about either WW1 or Germany's defeat in WW1. If you want a Germans and Jews analogy, try the idea of a German cultural centre being built next door to Auschwitz.
There are good, principled arguments for not objecting to a mosque near the WTC site, but the one you presented is not among them. I don't know, though, that those principled arguments would persuade those who lost people they were close to in the attacks and I don't know that I could blame them for not putting principle first in the circumstances. I'd like to see the proponents of the mosque find a way to have a genuine dialogue with survivors and the relatives, friends and colleagues of the dead and see whether those people would actually object.
Folk who are exploiting this issue out of bigotry are another matter entirely.
I disagree. They claimed "this is not a question of rights." Of course it is! Politicians from around the country are jumping on this as a way of denying Muslims the rights of every American for political purposes, a fact the ADL knows well. Adding its voice and prestige to that firestorm is to encourage it. If the Holocaust taught us anything, encouragement is complicity.
... the religious views of these perpetrators were not irrelevant to what they'd done and formed part of their motivations.
But it is still their views. If you prefer we could amend it to "the perpetrators hold views about Islam that happen not to be shared by all Muslims, including, as far as anyone can tell, the people who want this center."
However, there was, in fact, no group of Jews who brought about either WW1 or Germany's defeat in WW1.
Really? No one of Jewish descent worked for the defeat of Germany? ... including the English, Italian and Russian soldiers who happened to be Jewish? I find that hard to believe. The analogy is apt because whatever small role Jews may have had in the German defeat, an entire ethnic/religious group was blamed, just as Jim (in a good way) and Max (in a not good way) demonstrated above.
There are good, principled arguments for not objecting to a mosque near the WTC site, but the one you presented is not among them.
I wasn't talking about arguments for not objecting to a mosque near the WTC site. I was talking about why a prestigious organization, purportedly interested in human rights, would be so quick to discount the rights of an entire group simply because it is hated.
I'd like to see the proponents of the mosque find a way to have a genuine dialogue with survivors and the relatives, friends and colleagues of the dead and see whether those people would actually object.
Sure, talking is good ... not that I think it would, even if successful, have any effect on the people exploiting this. But the rights of those seeking this center do not and should not depend on their making nice with anyone.
Think twice before telling Jews what they should've learned from the Holocaust.
McVeigh was agnostic, but if a Christian terrorist bombs a mosque or an abortion clinic, it wouldn't be right to build a church there.
9/11 was perpetrated by Muslims indoctrinated in mosques, the 1993 WTC bombing was planned in the Al-Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn, and Muslims have a long tradition of building mosques on conquered territory.
Suppose Muslims have a right to build a mosque on their property near Ground Zero. What if they wanted to build a monument to the 19 hijackers and Osama bin Laden? Would they have a right to do that? Even if they would, it clearly wouldn't be right. That's what the ADL means by "this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right."
But the rights of those seeking this center do not and should not depend on their making nice with anyone.
If their goal is to thumb their nose at everyone and assert their right to build what they want where they want, then building a mosque near Ground Zero will accomplish that goal. But they say their goal is to promote reconciliation and understanding, i.e. to make nice with everyone.
They're not building it on the site of the WTC (not that it would not be their right to do so if they owned it). They are building on a site blocks away that (IIRC) they owned before the attack. What, exactly, is the appropriate distance within which we can take away their rights?
What if they wanted to build a monument to the 19 hijackers and Osama bin Laden? Would they have a right to do that?
What law valid under our Constitution would prevent them?
Even if they would, it clearly wouldn't be right. That's what the ADL means by "this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right."
The real test of everyone's rights is the protection we give to those whose opinions we don't like. The ACLU was right to protect the right of neo-Nazi to march in Skokie. The ADL is wrong not to support these Muslims rights or to put vague caveats on those rights.
I see, you're just claiming the right to tell them how best to accomplish their goal. Uh, huh.
YOU need to learn from the Holocaust and 9/11. Those who are kind to the cruel, in the end will be cruel to the kind. It's useful idiots like you who make it easy for hate groups to operate, spread their message, recruit members, raise money, and ultimately plan and commit violence against innocent people and against useful idiots like you as well.
But if you want dirt on the cleric behind the Ground Zero mosque, here you go
Regarding 9/11, he said, "I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened."
And just last June, he declined to say whether he agreed that Hamas is a terrorist organization.
So this guy may easily turn out to be a Hamas supporter and Islamist, like the cofounders of the Holy Land Foundation and CAIR.
"I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened."
Oh, please! There are a lot of people who aren't Muslims that think our policies in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan have brought this kind of terrorism down on us. It's not a crime to think that or to say that. As to "this guy may easily turn out to be a Hamas supporter and Islamist," there is nothing criminal about saying that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, much less refusing to say it is one. The only crime is actually conspiring in some way with Hamas to commit a criminal act. Heck, you "may well" turn out to be a wife beater. Does that mean your rights to property and speech should be taken away?
All you have presented against this project so far is innuendo applied with the broadest of tar brushes. That does amount to labeling all Muslims as terrorists and members of hate groups.
The project made the news no later than last December and the ADL statement came out on July 28, 2010. I work as a civil servant and I don't think that 7 months is "quick".
Okay, okay ... they took their time and gave all due deliberation before making the wrong decision.
"However, there was, in fact, no group of Jews who brought about either WW1 or Germany's defeat in WW1."
"Really? No one of Jewish descent worked for the defeat of Germany?"
If I'd meant "no one of Jewish descent" I would have said that. Instead I said 'no group of Jews'.
9/11 was carried out by a group of Muslims who were acting on their religious beliefs, by their own account. The defeat of Germany was not carried out by a group of Jews acting on their religious beliefs.
The particular group that carried out 9/11 was only Muslims. There was no particular 'group' of people who intentionally brought about German defeat in WW1, other than the Allies (originally Entente) of whom Jews formed only a tiny minority.
While it would be absurd to say "one can find some Muslims among those who carried out 9/11 but they were only a small minority of those who did." because they were all Muslims, it is true that, as you note, one can find some Jews among those who brought about Germany's defeat but they were only a small minority among those who did.
It would be true to say "Those who carried out the 9/11 attacks were Muslims." On the other hand, it would not be true to say "Those who brought about Germany's capitulation were Jews."
There are two attributions involved here. First there is attribution of an event, either 9/11 or the defeat of Germany, to a group of people who themselves are part of a larger group. Then there is the attribution of that group's culpability to the larger group of which they were part. Your analogy fails because you can't reasonably make the first attribution regarding a group of Jews and WW1 while one can make that attribution regarding a group of Muslims and 9/11. The second attribution cannot be made in either case, but your analogy depends on both of the first attributions being true, and only one of them is.
BTW, your mention of Jews serving in the armies of Britain, Italy or Russia demonstrates either delicacy or a lack of awareness of the crucial element in the myth your analogy refers to, an element that gave it its power among the conservative nationalists who were seeking to evade their own responsibility for Germany's situation. That crucial element was that the Jews who had brought about Germany's defeat and prostration under the Versailles terms were supposedly German Jews who had betrayed the true Germans. That's why the myth is called the Dolchstosslegende, the myth of the stab in the back. It's what gave force to the arguments of those who held that even the most non-religious, fully assimilated Jews were irredeemable because of their ancestry and biological heritage. Jews among the armies of the victors of WW1 were no part of the myth.
And if one wished to attribute Germany's defeat and the imposition of the Versailles terms to any group of people, it would be to the conservative nationalists who governed Germany before and during WW1, specifically including Wilhelm II and Hindenberg and Ludendorff who, far from being a group of Jews were at best casually antisemitic.
My reaction is conditioned in part by knowing some people who would make your analogy while believing that the German defeat in WW1 could in fact be attributed to a conspiracy of Jews, just as the 9/11 attacks were carried out by a conspiracy of Muslims. This conditions me to be very careful in reference to the events at the end of WW1 and those responsible for it. It comes from following military history and especially that of WW2 and a recent line of reading of mine being that concerned with the role of the Wehrmacht in the Holocaust and the strain of antisemitism running through the Wilhelmine conservative nationalism in Germany and in the Wilhelmine army.
Just to be clear, I'd be as stunned to find you were one of those who do believe 'the Jews' caused Germany's defeat as I would be to find that Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers had both converted to fundamentalist Christianity and young Earth creationism and had gone on tour as banana wranglers for Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron.
I'm sorry. I just don't see your distinction between "groups." My response was, therefore, somewhat tongue-in-cheek.
So what if all the 9/11 terrorists were Muslims? Does that somehow implicate all Muslims? Does it somehow make it right to label all Muslims as terrorists (and, yes, that is what many people are doing)? Were the people who blamed Jews for stabbing Germany in the back any more irrational? I don't think so. The fact that some people you know can be rational about the Jews and WWI and not rational about Muslims and 9/11 doesn't change the fact that they are being irrational about Muslims and 9/11. Being rational about some subjects and not about others is a common human characteristic ... one shared by the people in the ADL who issued this statement.
... I'd be as stunned to find you were one of those who do believe 'the Jews' caused Germany's defeat ...
Good ... since that was my point. Both beliefs are irrational ... and dangerous ... and should be opposed by sticking up for the rights of the scapegoats, as the ADL should have appreciated.
It would explain (justify is a different thing) why some actual victims and survivors and those close to them might be offended or otherwise pained to have an Islamic centre being built near where a bunch of Muslims carried out their terrorist attack. The feelings of such victims of 9/11 as are opposed to the Islamic centre being built there are not rational, but are understandable and I'm would not say those feelings must not be taken into account in the decision by its proponents to build the centre where they currently intend. That does not in my mind justify an attempt to use the law (or worse) to prevent the centre being built there but just because the proponents of the Islamic centre have the right to build it and build it there doesn't mean they should choose to do so. The ADL's statement addresses not the question of the right but the question of that choice.
BTW, your analogy of Germans and Jews would have been more accurate if the folk objecting to the Islamic centre were blaming Muslims when the 9/11 attacks were actually carried out by a conspiracy of Inuit.
"Does it somehow make it right to label all Muslims as terrorists (and, yes, that is what many people are doing)?"
But the ADL isn't doing that. As you would not slag other Muslims for the actions of the 9/11 attackers so I wouldn't slag the ADL because someone else is being an armhole about this and blaming folk who didn’t carry out the 9/11 attacks.
"Were the people who blamed Jews for stabbing Germany in the back any more irrational?"
Yes, absolutely. As I explain below:
"Both beliefs are irrational ... and dangerous ... and should be opposed by sticking up for the rights of the scapegoats, as the ADL should have appreciated."
There are not simply "both beliefs" here. There are 4 beliefs involved in your analogy:
A. A conspiracy of Muslims carried out the 9/11 attacks.
B. All Muslims bear responsibility for what that conspiracy of Muslims did.
C. A conspiracy of Jews brought about Germany's defeat from within (the stab in the back).
D. All Jews bear responsibility for what that conspiracy of Jews did.
You analogize the argument you attack, A => B, with the argument C => D, but while B and D are essentially the same, A and C are not. A happens to be true while C ‘isn’t even wrong’, being not merely false but a lie put about by antisemites to justify their hatred and to obscure who had actually brought about Germany's downfall (none of Wilhelm II, Hindenburg and Ludendorff were Jewish).
Your analogy, as written, gives the idea that a conspiracy of Jews stabbed Germany in the back a credence it does not merit, since the analogy would be much closer if that were true. It’s on the order of 'A conspiracy of Jews carried out the 9/11 attacks.’
If you want, because you're responding to an ADL statement, an analogy where it comes down to attributing the actions of some Jews to all Jews, look to the actions of Irgun or the Stern Gang or some of Israel's actions like the invasions of Lebanon, Sabra and Shatila or Gaza. Maybe try an analogy of someone justifying their antisemitism on the basis of the actions of Jewish settlers in the West Bank, but at least something Jews actually did do.
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