Blocking the Islamic cultural center is short sighted at the very least, but it is at it's essence an act of religious intolerance. Opposition to the Islamic cultural center is as ludicrous as opposition to a Catholic church near the memorial at the site of the Murrah Federal Building bombing by Timothy McVeigh, based on his Catholic upbringing. Fear is not the way forward, it is the way to stay mired in an untenable position.
Because I cannot put it better myself I am quoting Fareed Zakaria in the article in Newsweek:
The ADL’s mission statement says it seeks “to put an end forever to unjust and
unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.” But
Abraham Foxman, the head of the ADL, explained that we must all respect the
feelings of the 9/11 families, even if they are prejudiced feelings. “Their
anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or
bigoted,” he said. First, the 9/11 families have mixed views on this mosque.
There were, after all, dozens of Muslims killed at the World Trade Center. Do
their feelings count? But more important, does Foxman believe that bigotry is OK
if people think they’re victims? Does the anguish of Palestinians, then, entitle
them to be anti-Semitic?
What I can (and did) do is to contact the ADL and voice my disappointment in the shameful position they took when they put aside the mission of their organization to pander to fear and hatred. I am not unsympathetic to the pain that 9/11 caused the families, but I do not agree with their stance on this issue. This is the message I sent the ADL:
My father is Jewish and my mother is Catholic. I have been Buddhist for more
than 20 years. In my life and in my home I practice religious tolerance and I
have believed my whole life that the ADL stood for the principles that I was
raised with and that this country was founded on. The stance taken by the ADL
against the building of the Islamic cultural center in New York is wrong. It is
an example of fear based religious intolerance, which I have always believed the
ADL to be fighting. Shame on the ADL for not practicing as it has preached. I
truly hope that this decision will be rectified.
Fareed Zakaria returned both the plaque and the $10,000 honorarium he received from the ADL in 2005 when he was awarded the Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize. Zakaria's return of the award and the money will likely subject him to ridicule and possibly cost him professionally and financially, but he used his First Amendment right to speak his conscience in a very public way. In my small way, I voice my solidarity.