It's happened: the Anti-Defamation League has overplayed its hand (in this case, neoconservative Islamophobia) in such a glaring manner that it is being condemned at every quarter-- a statement from the group opposing the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York. The statement openly abandons civil rights, standing for no principle at all except majoritarian intolerance:
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.
MJ Rosenberg says that ADL has joined the bigots. Joshua Holland at AlterNet: "I guess the once-important ADL is admitting that it’s an organization dedicated not to combatting hatred and bigotry, but simply another organ pushing far-right, Islamophobic conspiracy theories." Krugman at the Times has also landed on the ADL: "One thing I thought Jews were supposed to understand is that they need to be advocates of universal rights, not just rights for their particular group."
The Economist blog nails it:
IN LIGHT of the Anti-Defamation League's recent statement opposing the construction of an Islamic centre near Ground Zero, they ought to no longer claim that their organisation fights "all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and supports civil rights for all." More accurate would be saying that the ADL fights some forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals except when it comes to Muslim Americans exercising their right to worship, and supports civil rights for all except when such support would bother some people.
Read that statement and tell me if you've ever seen anything so lily-livered and equivocating
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has called on ADL to retract the statement:
"It is shocking that a group claiming to seek 'justice and fair treatment for all' would side with those engaged in one of the most egregious Islamophobic smear campaigns in recent memory," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "We ask the ADL to reconsider and retract this ill-considered and divisive statement. With its shameful statement, the ADL is exploiting and fueling the rising level of anti-Islam sentiment in our society." Awad urged ADL members to contact the Jewish group's leaders to express their opposition to the statement against the Islamic community center.
Alex Pareene at Salon:
Opposition to the Cordoba House was limited, initially, to right-wing populist kooks like the editorial board of the New York Post, and their rage-columnist Andrew Peyser. Then it went national, as people who know damn well what they're doing stoked ethnic resentments and encouraged plenty of otherwise decent people to give in to base fears of scary Arabs who want to kill you, all of you, because that is their nature.
Remember that Brian Lehrer, the progressive talk show host at WNYC, licensed this sort of intolerance with his show on which he grilled the wife of the mosque's imam for her views re Israel. Note too that the Krugman places the discussion in a very Jewish context. His headline is "Bad for the Jews" and he concludes "We can't afford to live in a tribal world." But he has also declared at the start, "Outside my usual beat," which is a lame effort to rationalize his abdication on an issue that could hurt his reputation, Israel/Palestine, which is truly important tribal politics that is hurting the U.S. and which he is just as implicated as he obviously feels himself to be by the ADL's grotesque statement.