The ADL at Ground Zero

Background: The Anti-Defamation League has come out against a group of Muslims building a community center near Ground Zero: ADL Position.


Not wanting a group of peaceful Muslims near Ground Zero is most obviously defamation of Islam. Maybe there should be a special right for victims to defame the demographic from within which they were violated -- my Jewish Grandmother boycotted almost everything German, and I'm ok with her doing that, and if a 9/11 victim's spouse cringes at all things Islamic (especially in the context of their loss right at Ground Zero) I wouldn't take it on myself to tell them to be more rational.

But confusing Muslims who want peace with al Queda is a terrible, nasty defamation. It's one that works in the interests of al Queda. It might be too much to ask every 9/11 victim not to think "al Queda" when they hear "Islam," but for the rest of us breaking our animal-hatred of "other" groups is exactly what the ADL should stand for.

Dear ADL -- I've read your position, and your explanation ( ), and it is clear to me that "an anti-bigotry organization had joined with the bigots." Your defense of your organization sounds rather exactly like mild anti-Semites who don't rave and spittle about Jews, but let bits of anti-Semitism leak into their thoughts and actions. The fact that you say your position was carefully considered, and argue that you've done past things to defend Muslim's rights as if that lets you off the hook -- does "I have Jewish friends" ever work on you guys? Reading your website you forced an apology out of Oliver Stone for mentions of Jewish lobbying that seems to me a much weaker and subtler offense than confusing terrorists and Muslims. Alright, I'll buy it for now, you have a track-record of defending Islam: this time you screwed up, screwed up big time, and became the thing you claim to oppose. Your organization asks for apologies when these mistakes are made, and yours could be very instructional to our nation.

I hear your position, that the victims shouldn't have to face reminders when they need to grieve. If it had come from a mediator looking for a solution, it would even be ok for me -- giving a pass to some of the victims amidst their grief, though a particularly nasty pass given that some of the victims were themselves Muslim. But to have it come from the "Anti Defamation" organization is particularly sad and disheartening. Your position needs to be fundamentally changed. You need to be absolutely clear that it is a defamation of Islam to confuse to peace-loving Muslims with terrorists. Your position can ask for sympathy and patience for the victims of 9/11 without setting a precedent that they are actually correct in their defamations.

The most common analogy is the nuns who wanted to build a convent next to Auschwitz. While the analogy has some points, the fundamental one is completely missing: Muslims are not welcome near Ground Zero because too many Americans want to blame their entire religion for a few extremists, an unethical (and counter-productive, and just plain wrong) act of defamation. Catholics in Poland were not a minority facing discrimination and blame. The nuns were *going* specifically to Auschwitz and putting their slant on how to memorialize it; the current fight is outsiders yelling at New Yorkers who live near where the attacks occurred.

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