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April 27, 2015 2

Members of Congress Invite Anti-Muslim Bigot Geert Wilders to DC Events

Geert Wilders, the Dutch Free­dom Party leader and one of the most noto­ri­ous anti-Muslim big­ots in the world, announced that this week two Mem­bers of Con­gress will host him at events in Wash­ing­ton, DC.

Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Steve King and Louie Gohmert are report­edly help­ing pro­vide a plat­form for Wilders at two events, a break­fast spon­sored by the Con­ser­v­a­tive Oppor­tu­nity Soci­ety, founded by for­mer Speaker of the House Newt Gin­grich, and later in the day at a reception.

ADL wrote to Rep­re­sen­ta­tives King and Gohmert to make sure they know that Wilders’ rhetoric, com­par­ing the Mus­lim reli­gion itself to Nazism, crosses the bound­aries of civil­ity and reli­gious tolerance.

Wilders rou­tinely says “Islam is evil” and calls for the clos­ing down of Mus­lim schools and mosques, as he did in Novem­ber 2014 at the most recent David Horowitz Free­dom Cen­ter Restora­tion Week­end in Florida. Wilders con­sid­ers every Mus­lim an extrem­ist, stat­ing that “accord­ing to the Qur’an, there are no mod­er­ate Mus­lims.” He fur­ther claims that the fact most Mus­lims are law-abiding cit­i­zens and have no con­nec­tion to ter­ror­ism is irrel­e­vant, because Islam is an expan­sion­ist and aggres­sive ide­ol­ogy.  His pro­file as a pur­veyor of ugly anti-Muslim big­otry went global in March 2008, when Wilders released an online film called Fitna. The film sim­plis­ti­cally depicts Islam as a vio­lent reli­gion, inter­spers­ing verses from the Qur’an with footage of ter­ror­ist violence.

Even a rad­i­cally anti-Muslim law­maker like Wilders is enti­tled to express his opin­ions.  But Amer­i­cans are enti­tled to expect their elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives to avoid pro­mot­ing and legit­imiz­ing those odi­ous ideas.

Another instance of such deroga­tory and hate­ful rhetoric by Mem­bers of their cau­cus about immi­grants drew swift con­dem­na­tion by House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) and then Major­ity Leader Eric Can­tor (R–VA) as well as Judi­ciary Immi­gra­tion Sub­com­mit­tee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  Speaker Boehner called on leg­is­la­tors to reject hate­ful com­ments that he said were “deeply offen­sive and wrong and said they did “not reflect the val­ues of the Amer­i­can peo­ple or the Repub­li­can Party.”

We hope Speaker Boehner and the House lead­er­ship take note of this page from their own play­book and fol­low their own exam­ple again.

Con­fronting vio­lent extrem­ism from Islamist move­ments is an urgent and seri­ous task for gov­ern­ments and law­mak­ers all over the world.

Pro­vid­ing a plat­form for the basest kind demo­niz­ing of Mus­lims, or of any faith, does lit­tle to make Amer­i­cans safer. America’s high­est ideals of reli­gious lib­erty and the need to con­front ter­ror­ism from groups like ISIS and al Qaida with real pol­icy solu­tions com­pels Con­gress to do better.

 

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April 27, 2015 5

We Are Family: Making Classrooms Inclusive for All Families

?????????????????????In Stella Brings the Fam­ily, a recently pub­lished children’s book, a young girl’s teacher announces that the chil­dren can bring a spe­cial guest to school in cel­e­bra­tion of Mother’s Day. Stella frets—at first silently and then publicly—because she doesn’t have a mother and every­one else does. Stella has two dads. Her teacher unin­ten­tion­ally causes pain and stress for Stella and her class­mates won­der aloud who does all the things for Stella that moth­ers typ­i­cally do. The story ends well because Stella finds a solu­tion by invit­ing her Dads and mem­bers of her extended fam­ily to the festivities.

As we enter the sea­son of Mother’s and Father’s Day, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that Stella’s sit­u­a­tion is famil­iar in class­rooms across the country—both because there are many kinds of fam­i­lies and because most teach­ers often default to tra­di­tional con­cepts of fam­ily (i.e. two-parent, het­ero­sex­ual house­holds), not always real­iz­ing the harm that causes. Unfor­tu­nately, many of these sit­u­a­tions like Stella’s do not resolve hap­pily as her story does. Mak­ing the assump­tion that most chil­dren reside in one kind of fam­ily is prob­lem­atic on many levels.

Assump­tions about fam­i­lies often aren’t accu­rate. Less than half (46%) of U.S. chil­dren under 18 live in a home with two, mar­ried, het­ero­sex­ual par­ents in their first mar­riage. Accord­ing to the 2010 U.S. cen­sus, 220,000 chil­dren live in same-sex cou­ple house­holds. More than 24 mil­lion chil­dren live in sin­gle par­ent house­holds, rep­re­sent­ing 34% of total chil­dren. In 2013, 402,000 chil­dren were liv­ing in fos­ter care and 7% of all chil­dren lived in the home of their grandparents.

Despite these num­bers, well-meaning edu­ca­tors reg­u­larly make assump­tions about children’s home lives. These incor­rect assump­tions can cause chil­dren like Stella and oth­ers to feel badly and send an inac­cu­rate mes­sage to all young peo­ple about the cur­rent real­ity of our nation’s fam­i­lies.  Whether teach­ers have none, one, some or many chil­dren in their class­room who don’t fit the “tra­di­tional fam­ily” per­cep­tion, it is impor­tant to be inclu­sive and accu­rate about what fam­ily means.

For preschool and ele­men­tary age chil­dren, fam­ily is a huge part of their lives and often an inte­gral part of the cur­ricu­lum. For Mother’s and Father’s Day and through­out the year, it is impor­tant to be thought­ful about how to cre­ate class­rooms where all chil­dren feel included, affirmed and com­fort­able to be them­selves. Here are some sug­ges­tions for mak­ing that happen:

  • In dis­cus­sions about fam­ily, actively dis­cour­age the con­cept of a “tra­di­tional,” “aver­age” or “nor­mal” fam­ily. Work to broaden children’s def­i­n­i­tion of fam­ily, empha­siz­ing that fam­ily is not based on struc­ture or spe­cific mem­bers but rather, liv­ing arrange­ments, love, shar­ing home respon­si­bil­i­ties and com­mon activ­i­ties and tra­di­tions. Begin­ning at a young age, acknowl­edge that there are many kinds of fam­i­lies and bring that into your dis­cus­sions of home and fam­ily. Use books and other media in your class­room that fea­ture many kinds of fam­i­lies.
  • As a school, eval­u­ate the mes­sages you con­vey through lan­guage, poli­cies and pro­ce­dures. Re-think forms, per­mis­sions slips and other pro­ce­dures that explic­itly ask for “mother” and “father” iden­ti­fy­ing infor­ma­tion. Instead, change these des­ig­na­tions to parent/guardian across the board. In talk­ing with chil­dren, use terms like par­ents and guardians or adult fam­ily mem­bers rather than moth­ers and fathers. Think care­fully and find alter­na­tives to “father-daughter” dances and sim­i­lar activities.
  • In early child­hood and ele­men­tary class­rooms where these hol­i­days are typ­i­cally cel­e­brated, teach­ers should get to know their stu­dents and fam­ily sit­u­a­tions to avoid mak­ing some chil­dren feel left out. If you are going to com­mem­o­rate Mother’s and Father’s Day, con­sider mak­ing the day more gen­eral like “Fam­ily Day” or “Parent/Guardian Day.” If you decide to go ahead with the lan­guage of Mother’s and Father’s Day, be more inclu­sive and allow chil­dren to include other female and male fam­ily mem­bers or friends such as aunts, uncles, grand­par­ents, fam­ily friends, etc. If chil­dren have two moms or two dads, allow them to cre­ate two cards/gifts for these occasions.

Rather than caus­ing dis­tress, hol­i­days and obser­vances should be an occa­sion for bring­ing chil­dren together, shar­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences and help­ing every­one feel included.

 

 

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April 24, 2015 14

Adam Gadahn, American Al Qaeda Spokesman, Reported Dead

Adam GadahnOn Thurs­day, the White House announced that Adam Gadahn, an Amer­i­can spokesman for Al Qaeda, was killed in a Jan­u­ary drone strike. Although less vis­i­ble in recent years, Gadahn was at the fore­front of cre­at­ing English-language ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda – an ini­tia­tive that has evolved into a sophis­ti­cated recruit­ment and rad­i­cal­iza­tion mechanism.

Gadahn’s death comes as English-language pro­pa­ganda released by ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions is influ­enc­ing an ever increas­ing num­ber of Amer­i­cans to join extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tions. As of this date, thirty-one peo­ple liv­ing in the U.S. have been impli­cated in ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism in 2015 alone, a sig­nif­i­cant increase from the total num­ber of arrests in 2014 and in 2013.

Later Amer­i­can pro­pa­gan­dists for Al Qaeda affil­i­ates, such as Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, founders of Inspire mag­a­zine who were killed in a drone strike in 2011, have become more influ­en­tial than Gadahn in extrem­ist cir­cles. And as online tech­nol­ogy has advanced, groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have dra­mat­i­cally increased the reach and influ­ence of English-language calls to violence.

Gadahn, how­ever, was not only the first Amer­i­can to incite extrem­ism on behalf of Al Qaeda, but pre­sum­ably until his death remained the pri­mary English-language spokesman for Al Qaeda’s Cen­tral organization.

Gadahn’s first pro­pa­ganda piece for Al Qaeda was an audio trans­la­tion of an Osama bin Laden speech. In 2004, he began to appear in videos using the nom de guerre Azzam Al-Amriki and to pro­mote attacks against the U.S.

In the ensu­ing years, he released mul­ti­ple videos that reflected his anti-Semitic and anti-Christian views and were marked by threats against Amer­ica and its allies.

Gadahn also called for lone-wolf attacks. In a 2011 video, he stated, “Amer­ica is absolutely awash with eas­ily obtain­able firearms” and that lis­ten­ers can “go down to a gun show at the local con­ven­tion cen­ter and come away with a fully auto­matic assault rifle with­out a back­ground check and most likely with­out hav­ing to show an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card.”  He con­cluded, “So what are you wait­ing for?”

Gadahn’s most recent video was released in May 2014. Like his pre­vi­ous state­ments, it fea­tured calls for attacks against the U.S. as well as anti-Semitic rhetoric and con­cluded with clips of the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, fight­ing in Syria, and ter­ror­ism in Israel, includ­ing a brief video clip of Jews pray­ing at the West­ern Wall, Judaism’s holi­est site, fol­lowed by footage of an explosion.

Gadahn was also fea­tured in an inter­view in the March 2013 issue of Inspire mag­a­zine, Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP)’s English-language pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zine. In it, he called on his fel­low pro­pa­gan­dists to “make every effort to reach out to Mus­lims both through new media like Face­book and Twit­ter as well as the tra­di­tional broad­cast and print media.” Gadahn also used the inter­view to call for attacks against “Amer­ica and its NATO part­ners, par­tic­u­larly France and Britain.”

Gadahn was born in Ore­gon in 1978 and grew up in Cal­i­for­nia. He con­verted to Islam as a teenager and allegedly grew rad­i­cal­ized shortly there­after. In the late 1990s, Gadahn trav­eled to Pak­istan and joined Al Qaeda.

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