Fareed Zakaria to ADL: Take This Award and Shove It

August 7, 2010

(ChattahBox)—You would have had to be living under a rock not to have taken notice of the right-wing’s bigoted uproar over the proposed building of an Islamic community center, two-blocks away from the “Ground Zero” site of the 9/11 terrorist attack. The fact that there have been members of the Muslim faith quietly attending a Mosque in the same neighborhood, since the 80s doesn’t matter to the anti-Ground Zero Mosque bigots. And what about freedom of religion? Nope, that doesn’t apply to Muslims prone to terrorism, say the hysterical voices of the right wing led by Fox News. Fortunately, Mayor Bloomberg is not about to allow his city to be ruled by hate and bigotry. He just issued a spirited defense of the Islamic center, based on our beloved constitutional principles of religious freedom. But the Anti-Defamation League, a group devoted to combating hate and anti-Semitism took a different stand. The ADL issued a statement, acknowledging the right of the Muslim community to build a religious center and condemned bigotry, BUT reasoned nevertheless, the Islamic center should still move, because it would “cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.” The ADL also joined with the right-wing crowd, questioning the motives of the center’s Imam and asking whether the source of funding is associated with “groups whose ideologies stand in contradiction to our shared values.”

Fareed Zakaria, host of Sunday’s GPS on CNN and a Newsweek columnist, “was stunned” at the ADL’s stance supporting bigotry. Zakaria is the 2005 recipient of the ADL’s Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize. But in protest of the ADL’s position on the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, he is returning it, as well as the $10,000 honorarium.

Zakaria’s statement:

“I have always been impressed by the fact that your mission is broad – “to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens” – and you have interpreted it broadly over the decades. You have fought discrimination against all religions, races, and creeds and have built a well-deserved reputation.That is why I was stunned at your decision to publicly side with those urging the relocation of the planned Islamic center in lower Manhattan. You are choosing to use your immense prestige to take a side that is utterly opposed to the animating purpose of your organization. Your own statements subsequently, asserting that we must honor the feelings of victims even if irrational or bigoted, made matters worse.”

The League responded, with Abraham Foxman, ADL National Director, expressing sadness and shock that Zakaria would return the award:

“I am not only saddened but stunned and somewhat speechless by your decision to return the ADL Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize you accepted in 2005,” wrote Foxman. He added that the League hoped Zakaria “will come to see that ADL acted appropriately.”

There doesn’t seem to be any chance of that happening.

Zakaria said in his statement, he plans to address the controversy during his Sunday program.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/ (CC) Larry D. Moore/Fareed Zakaria, Editor, Newsweek International was a featured speaker at Charles Schwab Institutional Impact 2007 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.


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