Saturday, July 31, 2010

Revival of irrationalism?

I haven't been closely following the furor over the proposed Islamic Center in NYC, but now that the ADL has come out against the building of the center, I'm starting to think this is something more than the regular nationalistic posturing.

From their statement, their opposition is based on nothing more than vague conspiracy theories (the ADL should be sensitive to such defamation). But from a NYT article, one particular quote caught my attention:

“It’s the wrong place,” Mr. Foxman said. “Find another place.”

Asked why the opposition of the families was so pivotal in the decision, Mr. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, said they were entitled to their emotions.

“Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational,” he said. Referring to the loved ones of Sept. 11 victims, he said, “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.”

According to the NYT article, most of the opposition to this project comes from outside of NYC...from nationalist demagogues who want to absorb the WTC site into their holy-war mythology.

So, Foxman is saying that we should embrace this nationalistic irrationalism, and allow one group of people to push around another group because we sympathize with the trauma felt by the pushers. Well, I'll let Foxman in on a little secret -- there's lot's of trauma in the world, and very little of it gets into the national news. If we single out certain victims because everyone noticed and shared in their trauma, then we are not being compassionate, we are playing politics. And it is the ugliest and worst kind of politics -- the same kind that gave us the Nazis.

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