ADL'S Abe Foxman denounces anti-mosque rally as 'un-American'
Adam Serwer of the American Prospect is guest blogging on The Plum Line this week.
Earlier this week, the Sept. 11 victims' families group "Where to Turn" sent out a letter expressing opposition to a planned Sept. 11, 2010 protest of the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero. "Such activities... disrespect the memories of our loved ones on this sacred day at this sacred site," read the letter, which was signed by the group's founder, Dennis McKeon, and posted on Politico.
Today, I spoke with Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman, who said he agreed with "Where to Turn" that the rally shouldn't take place. Among those slated to appear is Dutch MP Geert Wilders, whom the ADL has previously criticized for anti-Muslim bigotry. Foxman called the planned rally, and the recent incidents of anti-Muslim bigotry across the country, "un-American."
On the rally:
I would agree with [Where to Turn], this is not a place for political demonstrations, for advocacy, especially on 9/11. This is a place for memory, for families to be together, to memorialize their loved ones, [to have] a moment of reflection and introspection. For people with political agendas to use the place and the moment for their own interests and their own platforms is desecrating the memory and very sad. Especially if some of the families of the victims are asking, their view should be taken seriously and respected.
Foxman had some harsh words regarding the presence of Wilders, as well as for conservative blogger Pamela Geller and her group Stop Islamization of America, which is organizing the protest:
[Wilders] is a bigot, he's an anti-Muslim bigot, and one of the demonstrations being called for is being headed by someone who has an anti-Muslim agenda, often under the guise of fighting 'radical Islam.' The group vilifies Islamic faith and is engaged in [claiming] there's a conspiracy to destroy American values, which is nonsense. The organizer in fact has stated that part of her agenda is to help garner support for Wilders, who is a bigot, who has a long record of anti-Muslim bigotry.
Foxman also said he was concerned about other instances of anti-Muslim incidents around the country:
The debate surrounding the Ground Zero mosque has surfaced, first, a campaign which is in many places directed against building mosques, and it also has focused attention on the anti-Muslim bigotry that exists in this country. It's not new. It has been there. Part of the landscape, unfortunately, of America is that we're not immune to bigotry, to racism, to anti-Semitism. And part of what's out there is a bigotry to immigrants. Jews experienced it, Irish experienced it. Part of our history is there was opposition to building Catholic churches and Jewish synagogues. Now there's opposition to build mosques, and there is, in our landscape, bigotry.
Some of it is beneath the surface, and some of it in moments of crisis explodes. That's what we're seeing now. There seems to be a legitimacy that it's okay now to speak out and act out against Islam, and that's why this rally, on this very tragic day for Americans, but most tragic for those who lost their families, to use it and abuse it as a platform for bigotry, is not only tragic, it's un-American.
Foxman and the ADL came under criticism both from this blog and mine, for their position that the Cordoba Initiative should move the project from its current location, several blocks from Ground Zero, out of sensitivity to the families of the Sept. 11 victims. But the ADL has been the only high-profile opponent of the project so far that I've been able to find to also publicly acknowledge and condemn recent anti-Muslim incidents elsewhere.
According to SOIA's website, the rally is also supposed to feature John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and conservative activist Andrew Breitbart.
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