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November 16, 2015 6

Understanding Mizzou and Ourselves

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium

Recent events at the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­souri have prompted seri­ous intro­spec­tion. With the deep hurt and rage caused by the death of an unarmed black 18-year old, Michael Brown, serv­ing as the back­drop to per­sis­tent man­i­fes­ta­tions of racism on Missouri’s flag­ship cam­pus, young peo­ple of color and their allies are demand­ing more of our edu­ca­tion and other insti­tu­tional sys­tems. They have sounded a cry for jus­tice that rings far beyond Mizzou.

Stu­dents are not only speak­ing out against overt exam­ples of racism. They are say­ing that the bias they expe­ri­ence is both more sub­tle and more per­va­sive. They are try­ing to tell us that racism sim­mers con­stantly beneath the sur­face of their inter­ac­tions on cam­pus, even when oth­ers do not see it.  Their voices deserve to be heard clearly and taken seri­ously. Their con­cerns require our atten­tion because they reflect deep his­tor­i­cal roots. Their res­o­lu­tion will have impli­ca­tions far beyond Mis­souri and the col­lege campus.

Indeed, the struc­tural inequities in soci­ety high­lighted by stu­dents at Mis­souri exist at all lev­els of the edu­ca­tion sys­tem, includ­ing K-12 and post­sec­ondary schools. Sys­temic injus­tice man­i­fests itself in schools that remain deeply seg­re­gated more than 60 years after Brown v. Board of Edu­ca­tion – not only sep­a­rate but grossly unequal.

This is not an opin­ion but an unfor­tu­nate fact.  We can see this in the huge dis­par­i­ties in school fund­ing and resources; the lack of diver­sity in our teach­ing force as well as the cur­ricu­lum; a dis­ci­pli­nary sys­tem that dis­pro­por­tion­ately pun­ishes stu­dents of color, and a raft of other poli­cies and prac­tices that feed racial and socioe­co­nomic achieve­ment gaps and other neg­a­tive outcomes.

Today, almost three quar­ters of African Amer­i­can stu­dents and eight in ten Latino stu­dents attend majority-minority schools. More­over, roughly four in ten of those stu­dents attend schools that are more than 90 per­cent seg­re­gated.  Schools with the high­est minor­ity pop­u­la­tions are less likely to offer high level sci­ence and math classes.  We see that, on aver­age, their teach­ers are paid sig­nif­i­cantly less annu­ally than schools in the same dis­trict with the fewest minor­ity stu­dents.  Their teach­ers are less likely to be certified.

Achiev­ing diver­sity in edu­ca­tion is crit­i­cal. Diverse schools are cru­cial to the devel­op­ment of a soci­ety that hon­ors inclu­sive­ness. We need plu­ral­is­tic edu­ca­tional envi­ron­ments so that stu­dents can explore a full range of ideas, per­spec­tives and expe­ri­ences and to rethink their own premises and prej­u­dices. Test­ing their own hypothe­ses against those of peo­ple with dif­fer­ing views is the essence of education.

But the solu­tion can­not come merely by cre­at­ing more inclu­sive learn­ing envi­ron­ments in higher edu­ca­tion.  We have to dig deeper, and find ways to acknowl­edge and address the under­ly­ing struc­tural inequal­ity. Struc­tural racism and uncon­scious bias per­me­ate so many aspects of Amer­i­can life, not only in our schools, but more broadly through­out our insti­tu­tions.  This very real frus­tra­tion is what fuels the #Black­Lives­Mat­ter move­ment.  Dig­nity, equity and oppor­tu­nity can­not be abstrac­tions for any seg­ment of our soci­ety – they need to be the com­mon denom­i­na­tors of every Amer­i­can dream.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded over 100 years ago to stop the defama­tion of the Jew­ish peo­ple and to secure jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all. This time­less mis­sion has fueled our con­stant com­mit­ment to stop anti-Semitism and big­otry in all forms and to secure civil rights and social jus­tice for all peo­ple.  Through­out the 1950’s and 1960’s, this mis­sion inspired our ded­i­ca­tion to the strug­gle for civil rights, fight­ing along­side our broth­ers and sis­ters in the African Amer­i­can com­mu­nity to achieve land­mark vot­ing and anti-discrimination leg­is­la­tion. We made enor­mous strides in those years, and those civil rights laws pro­vide impor­tant legal safe­guards that per­sist today.

But now, we and other civil rights orga­ni­za­tions must address the real­ity that laws are some­times eas­ier to change than atti­tudes, and that both sub­con­scious and overt racism per­sist in Amer­ica.  Unfor­tu­nately, we can­not just wish away the struc­tural racism and uncon­scious bias that per­me­ate so many aspects of Amer­i­can life, includ­ing our schools and other insti­tu­tions.  In this moment, we need to acknowl­edge the real­i­ties around us and recom­mit our­selves to this work.

Of course, the bur­den of address­ing racism and bias must not fall solely on the shoul­ders of com­mu­ni­ties of color or other minor­ity groups.  All seg­ments of soci­ety have a respon­si­bil­ity to lis­ten care­fully to the voices and frus­tra­tions of this gen­er­a­tion of activists who want what we all want—a more just soci­ety. We are pre­pared to take on this chal­lenge and to renew our effort to ensure jus­tice and fair treat­ment for all.

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November 13, 2015 0

A Religious Ruling Forbidding the Killing of Jews Sparks Controversy

A  recent video fea­tur­ing a Mus­lim reli­gious leader issu­ing a rul­ing for­bid­ding the killing of Jews has sparked con­tro­versy on social media. The video shows Jor­dan­ian Salafi Sheik Ali Al-Halabi giv­ing a les­son to a group of stu­dents. One of the stu­dents says to the Sheik: “The Jews in Pales­tine — some say it is per­mis­si­ble to kill them under any cir­cum­stances.” The Sheik replies: “One who pro­tects you, pro­vides you with elec­tric­ity and water, and trans­fers money to you; one for whom you work and whose money you earn – you will double-cross him, even if he were a Jew?! This sort of killing is per­mis­si­ble dur­ing con­fronta­tion, dur­ing a declared war, whereas when there’s mutual trust and you double-cross and kill him – this is not permissible.”

The stu­dent then asks if this also applies to armed sol­diers walk­ing in the street, to which the Sheik replies “The same answer. Let me ask you a ques­tion: ‘Does a gun­man walk­ing in the street kill every Mus­lim he sees?” The stu­dent replies “No.”

Another stu­dent asks the Sheik if it were true that they [Israelis/Jews] don’t attack unless attacked first? The Sheik answers that while he didn’t know, that is what “the broth­ers in Pales­tine informed us.” How­ever, the Sheik adds, “this gen­eral rul­ing – one shouldn’t think we thus defend the detested Jews, but this is the real­ity. Oth­er­wise, if they killed any­one they saw, no one would remain in Palestine.”

Headline: "A Salafi Sheik in Jordan forbids killing the Occupation's soldiers!"

Filastin news­pa­per (Gaza), Novem­ber 3, 2015 Head­line: “A Salafi Sheik in Jor­dan for­bids killing the Occupation’s soldiers!”

Per­haps unsur­pris­ing, the Sheik’s com­ments sparked a wave of angry reac­tions on Face­book, where the Sheik was tar­geted with hate­ful posts includ­ing: “His face indi­cates he is of Jew­ish ori­gin,” “This garbage, who refers to them as sheiks?,” “God’s curse upon you and your likes, it is not per­mis­si­ble to kill the Zion­ists because they trans­fer you money and food,” “I spit on sheiks, shave off your beard and make it a broom for the toi­let,” “It is per­mis­si­ble to kill you, may God kill you and your likes”.

Fol­low­ing the angry reac­tion to his com­ments, Sheik Al-Halabi clar­i­fied his rul­ing, say­ing “The Jews are usurp­ing occu­piers, a double-crossing and treach­er­ous peo­ple who are decep­tive and cun­ning. They killed the mes­sen­gers and the prophets … Jihad against the Jews is an oblig­a­tory one, incum­bent upon every Mus­lim state and upon every Mus­lim who accepts Allah as his Lord and Islam as his religion.”

Another reli­gious leader, Sheik Abu Himam, who was present at Al-Halabi’s les­son, also renounced the pro­hi­bi­tion against killing Jews. In a Novem­ber 7th video, Sheik Abu Himam says: “I empha­size and reit­er­ate that it is per­mis­si­ble to kill the Jew­ish occu­pier, and that it is legit­i­mate for our peo­ple in Pales­tine to defend [them­selves] in every means and in every way which enables them to repel this enemy and kill them to the extent that they can.” He adds that “Our lofty and sub­lime Salafi method is known for its fidelity to those who believe and for being devoid of poly­the­ism, athe­ism, and oppres­sion, first and fore­most of which are the descen­dants of apes and pigs, the Jews.”

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November 12, 2015 3

Anti-Immigrant Activists Make Common Cause With Extremists

In a col­umn this week for the National Review, Mark Kriko­rian, head of the anti-immigrant think tank Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies, attempted to defend Kansas Sec­re­tary of State Kris Kobach from crit­i­cism by the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter and oth­ers for hav­ing attended an anti-immigration event with racist ties by por­tray­ing the event as innocuous.The event, The Social Con­tract Press Writ­ers Work­shop, was held in Wash­ing­ton, DC, in late October.


Mark Kriko­rian

How­ever, the Work­shop does have ties to extrem­ists. To demon­strate this, one need look no fur­ther than one of the key fig­ures behind The Social Con­tract Press itself: Wayne Lut­ton. Lut­ton, the edi­tor of the Press’s main pub­li­ca­tion, The Social Con­tract, for many years has been a promi­nent fig­ure in the white suprema­cist movement.

While not edit­ing The Social Con­tract, Lut­ton sits on the board of the New Cen­tury Foun­da­tion, a white suprema­cist “think tank” run by Jared Tay­lor of Amer­i­can Renais­sance, a white suprema­cist web­site. Both the Foun­da­tion and the web­site pro­mote ideas of alleged racial dif­fer­ences in intel­li­gence, sup­port the notion of a “white iden­tity,” and oppose mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and diver­sity. Lut­ton has also spo­ken at Amer­i­can Renais­sance con­fer­ences, as well as con­fer­ences of the bla­tantly white suprema­cist Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens. In addi­tion, Lut­ton has served on the board of the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety, which pub­lishes the racist and anti-Semitic jour­nal Occi­den­tal Quar­terly.

Attend­ing the Writ­ers Work­shop was not the first time Kobach has turned a blind eye towards the extrem­ist ties of some of his fel­low anti-immigration activists. In 2012, for exam­ple, Kobach par­tic­i­pated in an anti-immigration panel at the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence along­side Robert Van­der­voort, the head of the anti-immigrant group Pro-English but also the for­mer head of the white suprema­cist Chicagoland Friends of Amer­i­can Renaissance.

Anti-immigrant agi­ta­tors all too fre­quently give a pass to extrem­ists, so long as they share the same anti-immigrant views. Indeed, the fact that Kriko­rian, in his defense of Kobach, neglected to men­tion Lutton’s extrem­ist ties is not surprising—because Kriko­rian turns the same blind eye him­self. Kriko­rian not only spoke at  The Social Con­tract Press Writ­ers Work­shop this year, but in 2013 he also con­tributed an arti­cle to Lutton’s publication.

The real­ity is that Lutton’s Press serves as a bridge between extrem­ists and more osten­si­bly main­stream fig­ures in the anti-immigrant move­ment. The Social Con­tract fre­quently fea­tures white suprema­cists along­side anti-immigrant fig­ures in its pages. Its Writ­ers Work­shop often invites main­stream but prob­lem­atic fig­ures to its events. The Kansas Sec­re­tary of State is one such figure.

Kobach is known for his anti-immigrant views and has drafted some of the harsh­est anti-immigrant laws in the nation. He also has pro­moted the con­cept of self-deportation, the idea that states should put in place poli­cies and prac­tices that make life so dif­fi­cult for undoc­u­mented immi­grants that they will leave the United States “voluntarily.”

Through its jour­nal and con­fer­ences, The Social Con­trast Press tries to main­stream big­otry by fea­tur­ing well-known anti-immigrant fig­ures to give their venues an air of legit­i­macy. But when fig­ures such as Kobach and Kriko­rian lie down with the Press, they only show how immod­er­ate they them­selves are.


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