Posts Tagged ‘anti-Semitism’

Is it ethical to eat Chick-fil-A?

June 29, 2013

Dan-Cathy-Chick-Fil-A-DOMA-Tweet-520x400The other night I attended the grand opening of Westwood Village’s newest restaurant, a Chick-fil-A. C.R., the young owner (all, or most of the brand’s restaurants are privately owned), welcomed us with warmth and excitement at starting his own business in a friendly new—to him—city.

After speeches and music we were treated to a sampler of all the wares, from three kinds of chicken sandwiches to salads, yogurt parfaits, and finally the richest chocolate chunk (not measly chip) cookies to send us on our way.

But when I told my daughter Lisa about the event she scowled and proclaimed that she wouldn’t patronize a homophobic business like Chick-fil-A.

I protested that the views were those of the company president, Dan Cathy, not of the corporation, and I’d be shocked if individual store owners like C.R. harbored anti-gay sentiments.

But now I wonder, is it ethical to patronize a business whose owner promotes views that are abhorrent to me?

Cathy was brought up in the Bible belt with biblical warnings about the evil (more…)

Yelena Bonner, ethics super hero, dead at 88

June 20, 2011

The greatest ethics challenge that most of us face is speaking truth to power. When our boss, or our spouse, or our good friend, says or does something that we disagree with we’re too often reluctant to object. At work we may fear the boss’s wrath; in our private life we may fear the loss of a friend.

We should take heart from the life of Yelena Bonner, who died Saturday in Boston after a long hospitalization. Many people think Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviet Union: you could just as well argue that Yelena Bonner did.

Bonner relentlessly fought a one-woman battle against the Evil Empire, perhaps the strongest and most ruthless dictatorship the world has ever known. She had every reason to be fearful of its might: it executed her father and imprisoned her mother as enemies of the state when she was 14. Her own children were driven out of the country by state pressure and KGB threats. As a Jew in fiercely anti-Semitic Russia she had special reason to fear the state. But somehow she made the state fear her.

She was a founder and the personification of the Soviet human rights movement. In 1972 she married Andrei Sakharov, father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb-turned human rights activist.

When Sakharov was awarded the Nobel peace prize for his advocacy of human rights the regime forbade him to travel to accept his award; Bonner, in Italy for medical treatment, risked the regime’s wrath (more…)

Worth watching: the CNN documentary, Unwelcome: Muslims Next Door– Soledad O’Brien

April 1, 2011

 

CNN last week ran an excellent documentary about the controversy over a planned new mosque/community center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. It’s called Unwelcome: Muslims Next Door– Soledad O’Brien. The video runs 42 minutes. An excellent summary of it is here.

It’s upsetting to contrast how ordinary American are the Muslims of Murfreesboro with how fearful and suspicious are the mosque’s opponents. The idea that the American Muslims are “other” is reminiscent of similar arguments made about African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Jewish Americans, and, much earlier, Irish-Americans.

We Americans take pride in our diversity, and in America as a melting pot, but we still have the capacity to summon up a layer of hate and suspicion from just under the surface.

 

Alabama’s governor of all the people, as long as “you’re a Christian and if you’re saved”— no insult intended to Jews, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, and others

January 18, 2011

 

Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley gave a rousing Martin Luther King, Jr day speech at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where the late civil rights leader once was pastor. He told Alabamians that it was important ”that we love and care for each other.” He went on to proclaim, ”I think that Dr. Martin Luther King was one of the greatest men that has ever lived.”

Bentley said that even though he was a Republican he was governor of all the people. Except…maybe…

“There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit. But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister.”

 

”Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”

Bentley later explained, ”We’re not trying to insult anybody.” Not trying, but succeeding.

 

Synagogues and mosques hold “twinnings” to promote mutual respect; equate Islamophobia with anti-Semitism

November 10, 2010

 

Amid the heated rhetoric and accusations surrounding the planned Muslim Community Center two blocks from Ground Zero, here’s some heartening news, courtesy of Washington Jewish Week. More than 100 mosques and 100 synagogues in 22 countries participated in interfaith “twinning” activities last weekend. In the D.C. area highlights included a community service project for teens and a joint Muslim-Jewish statement: “Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism are both products of fear which we find unacceptable and intolerable. We encourage the larger community to speak out against hate. Our communities have common roots; we are all children of Abraham.”

 

NPR fires Juan Williams for anti-Muslim comments: intolerance, political correctness, or a stand against bigotry?

October 21, 2010

 

“Juan Williams, Martyr to Tolerance.” That’s the title of a provocative Ethics Alarms piece by Jack Marshall. Juan Williams was fired by NPR for saying this on to Bill O’Reilly on Fox News:

“I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

Marshall excoriates NPR’s action as the intolerable “intolerance of the self-righteous heralds of toleration.”

I’m conflicted over this one. I don’t think Juan Williams should have been fired, but I find his statement very unfair, and somewhere between ignorant and bigoted.

Ignorant, because Muslims wear all kinds of garb, including the sporty American look that the 9/11 hijackers apparently tried to present. Bigoted, because it’s bigotry to assign stereotypical characteristics to individuals, whether to assume that Jews are money-grubbing, that Irish are drunks, that black men are sex-crazed, or that evangelical Christians are gay-bashers.

For Americans in 2010 it’s particularly hurtful to stereotype Muslims as terrorists, as many on the political right are now doing. A scary portion of the population is buying into the idea of Muslims as “other.” It’s horribly unfair to people who are (more…)

The mosque “at” Ground Zero: the Anti-Defamation League sides with the bigots

August 1, 2010

The Anti-Defamation League has in the past stood against, not only anti-Semitism, but against all kinds of racial and religious bigotry. Those days sadly are gone. In a shameful statement the ADL summed up its position this way:

“Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.”

So if you are a victim and you blame Islam—not al Qaeda—for 9/11, we should honor your bigotry by preventing American Muslims from building a community center/mosque 2-1/2 blocks from Ground Zero. For a Jewish group to make such a statement is remarkable, and especially reprehensible. It wasn’t long ago that Jews too were told to be unobtrusive because their presence where they were unwanted would cause pain (more…)

The mosque, the imam, 9/11, and six degrees of separation

July 22, 2010

I feel for Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who has devoted his life to building bridges between Islam and the West, and is now leading the effort to build a mosque in New York 2-1/2 blocks from Ground Zero. When I was nine years old I learned to defend myself against bullies who beat me up because I had killed Christ. I didn’t know what the accusation meant, but I knew I was being picked on because I was Jewish, and I’d better learn to fight off these guys.

Most of the opposition to the mosque is because Imam Rauf killed 3000 Americans on 9/11. Or if he didn’t personally do it, his people (“they”) did it. Just as everybody is connected within six degrees of separation to Kevin Bacon, all Muslims are connected within six degrees to some terrorist. Or to someone who gave money to a charity that gave money to terrorists. Or who has a cousin who once said that Hamas had a point.

In the 1950s Senator Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee tarred innocents with guilt by association. Today’s haters don’t even need association to make their accusations, they just need something within six degrees of separation.

Thursday’s New York Times has a good analysis by Robert Wright of the accusations against Imam Rauf, (more…)

More about the mosque: Hatred spewing from the National Republican Trust PAC

July 17, 2010

The hate message is undisguised: “Where we Americans weep, they rejoice and intend to erect a shrine to the 9/11 terrorists they hail as martyrs. “

The “they” in the message can only refer to the moderate and patriotic American Muslims who support building a mosque and community center 2-1/2 blocks from Ground Zero. It’s not too big a stretch to think it also refers to Mayor Bloomberg, the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan, and everyone else who supports it.

The message is courtesy of Scott Wheeler, whose web site, www.goptrust.com, explains, “The National Republican Trust Political Action Committee (NRT PAC) was formed as an independent organization to help promote American values and support federal candidates for Congress, Senate and the Presidency who share those values. The NRT is committed to continuing the legacy of Ronald Reagan.”

Watch the vile ad to see what hate is being spread under the mantle of conservatism and Ronald Reagan. NBC and CBS have refused to air it, but it’s viral on the internet. Shades of the anti-Semitism of the 1930s.

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Furor erupts over American Jews’ plan to build a synagogue near Ground Zero

May 12, 2010

Some Americans are up in arms over the prospect of a big new synagogue in the old Burlington Coat Factory site near Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center towers destroyed on 9/11. There’s even a Facebook page called “1,000,000+ people who disapprove of building a synagogue at Ground Zero!” It has 20,389 members, up from about 7,000 two days ago. The word is spreading virally on the internet, and people are thronging to the site to sign up.

The site’s self-description reads,

Jews want to put a SYNAGOGUE WITHIN 600 FEET “GROUND ZERO”! This page’s opinion is this synagogue is a symbol of conquering America; they could have put it somewhere else away from Ground Zero – hallowed ground – but they chose this spot for a reason.


Join us, and show America – and the Jewish world – that is an insult, and cannot stand!


This groups is NOT about attacking Judaism or Jews; it’s about the appropriateness of putting such a building in that location. Also, Obama has nothing to do with it; if you want to blame someone, blame Mayor Bloomberg – he approved of it.

The man leading the effort to build the synagogue is Rabbi Frank Rubenstein, who explained to The New York Times, “We want the world to know we condemn 9/11. In my congregation are many people who died on 9/11.” The Times described the rabbi as following a path of Judaism focused more on spiritual wisdom (more…)


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