In 2005, Fareed Zakaria was awarded the Hubert H. Humphrey first amendment award (Humphrey, you will remember, was Johnson’s VP who lost to Nixon after one of the US’s darker election seasons). Zakaria is a long time commentator, works for Newsweek and CNN. One of the better ones, at least by Muffti’s tastes.
When he was awarded it, the ADL showered him with adulation:
Fareed Zakaria has become a household name in analysis and commentary on a wide range of foreign issues and their implications on domestic policy…Whether reading his compelling commentary in Newsweek or other publications, tuning in to his eloquent analysis as a regular member of the roundtable on ABC’s ‘This Week With George Stephanopoulous’ or his weekly PBS show ‘Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria,’ he provides us with important information and insight,” Mr. Foxman said.
5 years later, Fareed has returned the award ($10,000 and plaque) over the ADL’s recent press release regarding the Mosque controversy in New York City:
The ADLâ€™s mission statement says it seeks â€œto put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.â€ 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. â€œTheir anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted,â€ 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 theyâ€™re victims? Does the anguish of Palestinians, then, entitle them to be anti-Semitic?
(see the rest of his column here.)
In less eloquent words, Muffti thinks that Zakaria is asking Is the ADL on crack?
The ADL replied curtly in a press release:
You should know better than to link the Anti-Defamation League position on the Islamic cultural center/mosque with those of bigots. You certainly know that ADL takes seriously our commitment to combat all forms of bigotry, including that against Muslims, particularly since 9-11, especially the charge that all Muslims are terrorists.
In returning the ADL’s prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedom Prize, you seem to be throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
A fellow Humphrey Prize recipient, Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten, wrote that while he thinks ADL’s position is a mistake, “it was an error committed out of an excess of compassion and not an expression of animosity” and “ADL, even if it occasionally errs, is an organization I regard as indispensable.”
Good people can legitimately disagree about what is the best approach on this issue. Rest assured that the ADL you “long admired” is the same one doing battle against the bigots, even if we hold different opinions on this issue.
There are clearly a few issues at play here – (1) whether or not the ADL’s position on the Mosque is in keeping with their general position qua their mission statement. (2) Whether or not perceiving a tension between the organization’s aims and it’s actions in this matter justify the returning of a self-proclaimed prestigious award. (3) Whether or not the ADL is on crack. Muffti thinks ‘unclear’, ‘up to the recipient’ and ‘yes’ respectively.
On the other hand, the ADL did come out on behalf of the anti-prop 8 proponents. (for those of you who haven’t kept track, Proposition 8 was a narrowly passed voter initiative to ‘protect’ marriage by constitutional amendments. Married people, fear for your relationships as the case is probably going to the 9th circuit and perhaps the supreme court).
Today’s decision is a ringing reaffirmation of the right of same-sex couples to enjoy the fundamental right to marry. We are gratified that the court has recognized that there is no basis for “singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license,” and that such discrimination is unconstitutional.
ADL stands committed to the principle of equal treatment for same-sex couples. With this ruling, California can once again proudly demonstrate leadership in this fight for individual liberty and freedom from discrimination for all.
Maybe they switched to blunts?