Posts Tagged ‘tolerance’

George Allen strikes a risky blow for tolerance, sticks with church that lent space for Muslim prayers

June 9, 2011

Maybe it’s time to change our opinion of ex-Senator George Allen (R-VA). In 2006 he became a poster child for racial insensitivity (to put the best face on it) when he called a heckler at a town hall meeting “macaca.”

Now he wants his seat back and faces a tough fight against former governor Tim Kaine. The last thing he needs is a primary challenge from the tea party right. But that’s what Allen risked when he brushed off suggestions that he leave the Aldersgate United Methodist Church after it opened its multi-purpose room to a local mosque that needed prayer space while its new facility was being built.

Church pastor Jason Micheli has been slammed by Mike Huckabee and others for his ecumenical spirit, and several members have left the church because of it. But not Allen, who deflected the idea of the church being an issue, saying, (more…)


Open Letter to President Obama from a Muslim Family

May 20, 2011

Here is an “Open Letter to President Obama from a Muslim Family.” It contrasts his message to the Muslim world of dignity and civil rights with the treatment many American Muslims face in the United States. If you believe in the Bill of Rights and in American values this letter will alarm you. It’s a call for Presidential leadership. I hope the President heeds it.

The ethics of flying while Muslim

May 14, 2011

Most African-Americans are familiar with the charge of DWB. By now many even joke about being stopped by police for “driving while black.” The practice survives, even while police across the country have become sensitized to its wrongs.

It even reached the Presidency when a Cambridge, Massachusetts police officer arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates for attempting to enter his own house without a key. President Obama commented off-handedly that the Cambridge police had “acted stupidly,” then apologized and invited the arresting officer and the professor to the White House to talk things over at a “beer summit.”

Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghloul can add another to the list of offenses that can attract the unwelcome attention of the authorities: FWM, or “flying while Muslim. They were removed from an Atlantic Southeast Airlines (“The Delta Connection”) flight because their garb made the pilots nervous. Fortunately for them, the pilots of a later flight from Memphis to Charlotte weren’t as skitish, and the two Muslim travelers reached their destination safely, albeit, tardily.

George Jonas of Canada’s National Post describes the incident and its meaning here.

More about achieving happiness: The Golden Rule, tolerance, and free hugs

November 21, 2010

I saw this three-minute video and smiled a lot, and decided I wanted to share it. It’s about a bunch of people who give free hugs. But what do free hugs have to do with ethics?

Simply an application of the Golden Rule. The freehug movement was started by someone who needed a hug so he offered to hug anyone else. Do unto others…But it’s also a statement for tolerance, for acceptance and love of strangers: For you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Exodus 23:9).

So watch, smile, and remember,

A stranger shall thou not oppress; for you know the heart of a stranger, seeing you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

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…)

Tolerance and hate in New York: update on the mosque “at” Ground Zero

July 15, 2010

The long-running saga of a Muslim-American group’s effort to build a community center and mosque two and a half blocks from Ground Zero ended another chapter Wednesday night. New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing on whether to declare the group’s 150-year old building to be a historic landmark, and thus require its preservation as is.

The hearing drew a robust crowd, hardly any of whom cared a bit about the building. The real issue was whether to allow a Muslim center near Ground Zero. Most of the arguments made in favor of landmark designation were anti-Muslim rants, like that of an unidentified woman who said “It would be a terrible mistake to destroy a 150-year old building in order to build a monument to terrorism.”

Dania Darwish, a new graduate of New York’s Fort Hamilton High School, argued for the mosque:

“My family died that day…You’re yelling at me and you don’t know. If a mosque was built maybe you would know what Islam is about.”

The community isn’t particularly bigoted—New Yorkers pride themselves on their diversity, and a Manhattan community board recently voted 29-1 with ten abstentions to approve the mosque.. If you expected New York Jews to be opposed, guess again: New York’s Jewish Week reported that Jewish leaders haven’t made a big deal about the center, and the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan even offered some advice. Jewish elected officials (more…)

Two follow-ups: Muslims near Ground Zero in New York City, and Connecticut voter reaction to Blumenthal’s lies

May 27, 2010

First the good news: The New York Times reports that a Manhattan community board voted 29-1, with ten abstentions, to approve a proposed Muslin community center two blocks from Ground Zero. The board’s vote is advisory, but the Times notes that the vote is a measure of community sentiment. Score one for New Yorkers and one for tolerance.

And the bad news: A Quinnipiac poll of Connecticut voters showed only 33 percent were less likely to vote for Richard Blumenthal after he lied about serving as a Marine in Vietnam. Sixty-one percent said it doesn’t make a difference. And some indecipherable four percent said they were more likely to vote for him because of his lie. Sadly, 54 percent bought Blumenthal’s claim that he merely misspoke about his military service, while only 38 percent said he lied. Thumbs down for Connecticut.

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