bigotry » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘bigotry’
July 15, 2016

ADL’s Issues for the Platform Committees


Over the next two weeks, Republicans and Democrats convene their conventions – the equivalent of the MLB All-Star Game for political junkies. While the conventions are often a spectacle of political theater, this year it feels like the drama that has taken center stage is overshadowing important policy issues.

This hasn’t happened in a vacuum.  For years, America’s political debate has been sliding toward greater polarization and acrimony, leaving little space for the give-and-take that is vital to the public policy conversation and a healthy democratic process. Even where Democrats and Republicans can find common ground, as they do on issues like criminal justice reform, there seems to be little incentive for either party to compromise.

These diversions would be unhelpful in any election year.  But there are serious issues facing Americans today, issues that require serious debate. Americans across the political spectrum are reeling from the shooting death of African-Americans Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the mass murder of police officers in Dallas. And terrorist massacres targeting a gay night club in Orlando and government workers in San Bernardino, CA have brought home the impact of hatred and the threat posed by violent Islamist groups like ISIS. Whatever one’s views about how to address this violence and the range of intertwined issues it raises, Americans deserve a probing and constructive national debate rather than a contest to see who can score the most political points.

In formal submissions to the Platform Committees of both parties, ADL has urged that Republicans and Democrats address a range of important issues in an urgent way. Internationally, the U.S. must continue to play a leadership role in the fight against terrorism; in ensuring that Israel remains strong and secure; in promoting peace and respect for human rights across the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe; and in speaking out against a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism.  Domestically, our submission also addresses a variety of issues, for example asserting the urgent need for progress on voting rights, criminal justice reform, expanded legal protection for the LGBT community, refugee rights, and gun violence prevention.

ADL has had a longstanding practice of submitting its policy agenda to both parties, and has called on campaigns to reject character attacks and the use of bigotry in numerous campaign seasons.  This year, ADL is hosting events at both conventions that focus on finding space for substantive debate and collaboration toward progress in order to get down to the serious business of addressing the nation’s problems.

Politi­cians and can­di­dates will win or lose, come and go—but the fallout will linger unless we can elevate the quality of the debate moving forward.  It is incumbent upon all of us to raise our voices, to reject the use of bigotry or character attacks by any candidate, and to promote a public debate based on facts, evidence and civil discourse.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

March 17, 2016

Reconciliation Cannot Mean Turning a Blind Eye to Farrakhan’s Anti-Semitism

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This article originally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

Farrakhan - Iran

As the new CEO of ADL, I have recommitted ADL to our historic civil rights agenda. In my short tenure as head of ADL, I have brought my leadership team to the cradle of the civil rights movement in Atlanta, Selma and Montgomery to recommit to our immense task of achieving equal justice and fair treatment to all. We have vigorously lobbied Congress to pass legislation to undo the damage to the Voting Rights Act caused by the Supreme Court ruling in 2013; we have channeled our outrage after the tragedy in Charleston to launch a coalition-based campaign of #50StatesAgainstHate to ensure that all states have effective hate crime laws to protect African-Americans and other marginalized communities; and we have taken up issues of education equity and the school to prison pipeline. And we are committing to addressing the injustice of mass incarceration, incidents of police brutality and criminal justice reform.

In the name of working to ensure equality, however, we are unwilling to give a pass to anti-Semitism and hate as exhibited by Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.

Indeed, one of the principles that underlie efforts to provide rights for all is the need to stand against bigotry wherever it surfaces. That was why I was frustrated to read Russell Simmons’ blog on Louis Farrakhan – “The Nation of Islam and the Anti-Defamation League- Now Is the Time to Mend Fences.”

Civil rights and social justice are core priorities for ADL under my leadership. But let me be clear: When it comes to the bigotry of Louis Farrakhan, there is not one iota separating me from my predecessor.

It always was true and remains so today that exposing and condemning Farrakhan’s hatred does not mean that he is beyond redemption. All of us should admit that we can do better.  But the onus for “mending fences” is not on the targets of his hate, but on Minister Farrakhan himself.

Minister Farrakhan, like others who engage in hate, has the opportunity to change. He could repudiate his long history of anti-Semitic statements, speeches and publications.  He could publicly commit never again to engage in such bigotry.  When this happens, it could be a historic moment and an opportunity to turn a new page.

But he has not done so. In fact, in recent years, he has actually doubled down on his anti-Semitic rants, accusing Jews of responsibility for 9-11, which he describes as “a false flag operation that was designed to…so frighten, alarm, and anger the American people that they could direct that anger against the Muslim world.” He has spun conspiracy theories of nefarious Jewish control of the African-American community, of America’s political system and media, and just about any other conspiracy theory that anti-Semites peddle.

We know that many in the African-American community have positive feelings toward Minister Farrakhan. We know that he has done much for his community.

I appreciate that Russell Simmons wants to see reconciliation. I know Russell is authentic in his desire to bring the parties together.  And I am sure that many others would like to see a similar rapprochement. But it’s unfortunate that Russell dismisses the long history of hatred that has characterized Minister Farrakhan’s remarks. But Farrakhan’s bigotry cannot so easily be brushed aside.

There is long history of bigotry that ADL has consistently spoken out against.  And this is not ancient history. As recently as last week, Farrakhan reiterated his obsession with Jews and our “wickedness.” And in prior public statements, we have heard his racism, his hateful statements directed at the LGBT community, and sometimes his use of violent rhetoric.

And the problem is compounded when good people like Russell Simmons willfully ignore this reality or opt to minimize such hostility, and then end up blaming ADL for the alienation from Farrakhan. There undoubtedly are positive aspects to Minister Farrakhan’s message to members of the African-American community, but no one should get a pass for hatred.

To set the record straight, there is no truth to the accusation that ADL calls “every African American leader an anti-Semite.” This is an outrageous charge on its face, considering that ADL has worked on behalf of civil rights in this country for decades. Martin Luther King Jr. was an ally and my predecessor marched alongside him in Selma and stood with him at the White House. ADL and African American leaders have worked hand in hand on many issues for generations.

While it is true that some public figures from the African American community have made bigoted statements that we have criticized, we have done the same when leaders from other communities also expressed anti-Semitism or other forms of prejudice, and even criticized bigotry from members of our own community.

But to say, however, that we accused Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young and other Black leaders of being anti-Semites is flat out wrong and deeply hurtful. Yet this is a trope that Minister Farrakhan has used to wash himself clean of the very real charge levied against him for his hate. It is disappointing to see that Russell has restated these false claims.

ADL will continue to reinvigorate its work on the civil rights agenda because our mission and values compel us to. This work is a moral imperative in fulfillment of our mission to secure justice and fair treatment to all. In pursuit of that mission, we will continue to expose and vigorously condemn bigotry wherever it appears, including the anti-Semitism and bigotry of Louis Farrakhan.

But all of us can change.  When Minister Farrakhan is ready to make the same moral choice – to treat all of God’s children with the same dignity and respect – and publicly speak out against anti-Semitism or bigotry toward others whom he has demeaned, we will be ready to engage with him.

Tags: , , , , ,

January 19, 2016

MLK & ADL: Because the Work is Not Yet Done

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium











Today, we mark the 87th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It also has been just over 180 days since I took the helm of the Anti-Defamation League(ADL), an organization founded more than 100 years ago in pursuit of a dream that MLK labored to achieve his entire life: to fight bigotry and create a more just society. MLK and ADL shared a path that today seems perhaps even more intertwined than ever before.

ADL was created in October 1913, forged in the crucible of anti-Semitism. Our founders sought to rid the world of that age-old scourge even as they equally endeavored to drive an agenda of civil rights and social justice. MLK was born 16 years later, and he matured into a civil rights leader in the 1950s, dedicating himself to exposing the brutality of the Jim Crow South and dismantling its discriminatory system of institutionalized racism and oppression.

ADL supported MLK and the movement in its earliest days. In 1954, we filed an amicus brief in the landmark Brown v Board of Education decision. Ben Epstein, one of my predecessors who led ADL in the middle of the 20th century, directed the organization to work hand in hand with African American leaders. MLK and Epstein stood together in Selma as Epstein recruited his entire executive team to march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge for that storied march in February 1965. And later,​ MLK and Epstein again stood side by side in the Rose Garden with President Johnson and Attorney General Kennedy, celebrating the gains of the movement and cementing the Black-Jewish alliance.

In recent years, however, many have lamented of the fraying of the alliance. Divergent interests in the ensuing decades have alienated many in our communities. Some simply have forgotten the history. Others have chosen to subordinate it to other more pressing concerns. But the thing about history is that it always remains, perhaps just under the surface, but it still endures.

In my role as CEO of ADL, I have sought to re-energize that history. Just last month, I led my first “leadership retreat,” bringing together my executive team of professionals and lay leaders. Yet, rather than hunker down near our headquarters in Manhattan, I opted to visit the American South so we could examine the legacy of the alliance that defined the American Civil Rights movement and reflect on our part in it.

We started in Atlanta at Ebenezer Baptist Church, not only where MLK preached and the language of the movement took shape, but the site where we previewed #50StatesAgainst Hate last August in the wake of the Charleston​ massacre. #50States is a new nationwide effort to ensure comprehensive hate crimes laws are passed in all 50 states so that all people of all backgrounds have the protection that they deserve.

We then traveled to Montgomery and listened to Bryan Stevenson whose landmark work at the Equal Justice Initiative on criminal justice issues and sentencing reform strikes me as some of the most important contemporary work in this field. We spent time in Selma, literally walking the same route across the Edmund Pettis Bridge that MLK, Epstein, and others walked 50 years earlier. Although we faced none of the hatred and violence that confronted those marchers, we were struck by the history of the moment.

Yet the retreat was not intended simply to celebrate our past. It was designed to remind ​us of the responsibility of the inheritance bequeathed to us by Dr. King and Epstein. It was about climbing that hill of history so that we might root ourselves in our legacy but also to use its vantage point to look out at the horizon at the great challenges that remain before us today. For surely, the work is not done.

As we consider the rising inequality in our country between the rich and the very poor, we know the work is not done. As we consider the contrast between our graduation rates and incarceration rates, we know the work is not done. As we consider the inability of our laws and the failure of our culture to protect all vulnerable groups from discrimination, we know the work is not done. As we observe the coarsening of the public conversation and the rise of extremism, we know our work is not done.

To paraphrase MLK, change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. On this MLK Day, we recommit to the struggle — to straightening our backs and pressing forward with the hard work of stopping the defamation of the Jewish people, stemming the tide of bigotry in all forms, and securing justice and fair treatment to all.

Tags: , , , , ,