Most New Yorkers seem to have their heads on straight about Cordoba House, the Islamic community center proposed in downtown Manhattan. Mayor Michael Bloomberg (via the Cordoba Initiative):
If somebody wants to build a religious house of worship, they should do it and we shouldn’t be in the business of picking which religions can and which religions can’t. I think it’s fair to say if somebody was going to try to on that piece of property build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming. And the fact of the matter is that Muslims have a right to do it too. What is great about America and particularly New York is we welcome everybody and I just‐ you know, if we are so afraid of something like this, what does it say about us? Democracy is stronger than this. You know, the ability to practice your religion is the‐ was one of the real reasons America was founded. And for us to say no is just, I think, not appropriate is a nice way to phrase it.
I couldn’t agree more.
But the ADL, which says it “fights anti‐Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all” had this to say on Friday (reported by the NY Times):
The issue was wrenching for the Anti‐Defamation League, which in the past has spoken out against anti‐Islamic sentiment. But its national director, Abraham H. Foxman, said in an interview on Friday that the organization came to the conclusion that the location was offensive to families of victims of Sept. 11, and he suggested that the center’s backers should look for a site “a mile away.”
“It’s the wrong place,” Mr. Foxman said. “Find another place.”
Asked why the opposition of the families was so pivotal in the decision, Mr. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, said they were entitled to their emotions.
“Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational,” he said. 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.”
That is, in a word, bullshit. Irrational and bigoted anguish is still irrational and bigoted. Is that really the way he wants us to live together as a nation, captive to everyone’s irrational and bigoted emotions? Or are some irrational and bigoted emotions privileged?
Thank God not everyone agrees with him:
“The ADL should be ashamed of itself,” said Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, which promotes interethnic and interfaith dialogue.