The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has joined a legion of the usual right-wing suspects to oppose the building of a mosque two blocks north of ground zero, the location of the terrorist-propelled airplane crashes that toppled the former twin towers of the World Trade Center.
Just in case the ADL, long a fighter against anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination, doesn’t know it yet, let me mention that its new bedmates include Sarah Palin, Newt Gringrich, both major Republican candidates for Governor in New York and an assortment of race-baiting, codeword-using Republican-Tea candidates from around the nation.
And why is the ADL, which calls itself “the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency,” opposed to building a religious structure in the downtown of the biggest city of this land that is supposed to be dedicated to religious freedom? The ADL’s answer, given in a New York Times article over the weekend:
“Referring to the loved ones of Sept. 11 victims, he said, “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.”
To say that the family of victims in a terrorist attack may understandably confuse the terrorists with others of the same religion or national background displays an empathetic appreciation of the irrational way that people under stress sometimes think.
But to impose the victim’s understandable irrationality on our open civil society makes no sense and makes a mockery of our most basic beliefs.
As far as anyone can tell, no one associated with the proposed building of this mosque is or was a terrorist. In fact, the number of terrorists or terrorist supporters among the approximately 1.5 billion believers of Islam is infinitesimally small. For the most part, mainstream Islamists reject the concept of jihad as a holy war against the West as a perverse misreading of the Koran. Doesn’t denying U.S. Moslems the right to build a mosque for no other reason than it’s an Islamic structure send the wrong message to the overwhelming majority of non-terrorist Moslems? The only factor that should matter is the local zoning ordinance. Zoning either permits such a structure to be erected in that lower Manhattan Neighborhood or it does not. To let any other factor determine whether or not this building goes up runs counter to our traditions of free religious practice.
Those who have used 9/11 to renew a centuries-old holy war between Christians and Moslems are either misguided or racists. As a Jew, I find it truly shameful that the ADL should be joining these forces of intolerance.