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ADL Traffics in Crude Stereotyping of Muslims


Yesterday, William Saletan of published an article (The Muslim Taxi Driver) on how to kill legislation that favors Christian religion and it has to do with prejudice and paranoia against Muslims,

If you want to kill legislation that protects the right of Christians to withhold business services from same-sex couples, here’s one way to do it: Don’t warn people about Christians. Warn them about Muslims.

That strategy was on display in the campaign against Arizona Senate Bill 1062, which would have shielded businesses from discrimination suits if they acted on religious beliefs. Everyone understood that the bill would have allowed conservative Christians to refuse services for a gay wedding. But in Arizona, that wasn’t a strong enough argument against it. So opponents went for the Muslim angle.

Many Americans who talk about religious freedom are really just interested in the rights of conservative Christians. They’re not so keen on Muslims. In fact, they worry about Muslims imposing their beliefs on Christians. Two days ago, in praise of the Arizona bill, Rush Limbaugh complained, “Religious beliefs can’t be used to stop anything the left wants to impose—unless they’re Muslim religious beliefs, and then we have to honor those. But any other religious beliefs are not permitted.”

The first reference to Muslims in the Arizona fight, as far as I can tell, came from the Anti-Defamation League in a letter to state senators and in testimony before a state Senate committee on Jan. 16. If the bill were to pass, the ADL’s assistant regional director told the committee, “A Muslim-owned cab company might refuse to drive passengers to a Hindu temple.”

CAIR-Arizona has condemned the ADL’s stereotyping, calling on the group to apologize,

“It is unconscionable that a group purporting to defend civil rights would resort to religious bigotry to promote its political agenda,” said CAIR-AZ Board Chair Imraan Siddiqi. “The introduction of this stereotypical scenario gave way to the narrative that Muslims are in some way serial abusers of ‘religious freedom based denials of service,’ which is completely baseless.”

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    • Guess

      You got that right. It is a mouth-piece all right. Paying lip services to save face once in a while when American Islamophobia gets too raw for them to ignore it — which by the way the Zionism ideology they adhere to is for the most part responsible for. And to wholeheartedly defend the Zionist crimes in Palestine at every corner, should give a pause, especially to American Muslims about this organization and its agenda.

    • Solid Snake

      Well, when I used the “50%” number I meant to use it in a way to indicate in a simple manner that the Republican Party (The Democrats being the other half) represents a good number of the US population and is mostly responsible for spreading this sentiment.

    • Salaams to all, Thank you for this. It brings some perspective which was needed in this particular case. On a related note, these are interesting objections to the ex-bill which I had not considered. I would, however, have to read the text of the bill itself to discern whether these scenarios would be possible. I’ve seen special interest groups outright lie–blatantly–on more than one occasion when it came to extrapolating the possible effects of proposed legislation. But now that the legislation has been killed, I needn’t go to the trouble. There remains the thorny problem of the case which inspired the legislation in the first place; but that is outside the purview of this website.

    • Just_Stopping_By

      I don’t think you were oversensitive. I think the issue was in the way the material was presented. No one reading the Slate piece or the CAIR-Arizona letter would have known that this was one of five examples or that another example involved hypothetical discrimination against a group that wanted to study the Talmud or Koran (Qur’an).

      “When 50% of the Untied States population uses the word Muslim, not even extremist or radical Muslim just Muslim, as an insult and a way to discredit, impeach, and sometimes even justify killing the president of the US, then you know that this sentiment is woven into society to an alarming degree.”

      I agree 100% on the concept, though I doubt the figure is actually 50%. ( ) Whatever the figure, it’s not negligible, as probably close to 100% of us have seen that tactic used. I think it could actually be the subject of an interesting LW piece if someone wanted to write about it.

    • Solid Snake

      I think I was a bit sensitive today, lack of sleep does that to you.

      But after reading the whole letter, I don’t think this was a case of intentional Islamophobia. Like you said they needed a few examples and they happened to use one involving a Muslim. They also used a Christian example.

      Im just so used to people on the internet and in real life bringing up Muslims when they want to present an example of bad behavior or violence. Its getting beyond ridiculous. Its just thrown about so casually with such confidence that it makes you want to tear your hair out. because there is no use arguing logically, the amount of misinformation and ignorance that has built up over time into these little soundbites is overwhelming. And its just so ingrained in that person, in the supporters of that opinion, and honestly, and unfortunately, it is ingrained in Western society as a whole.

      And that’s not just my opinion. Its a provable observable phenomenon. When 50% of the Untied States population uses the word Muslim, not even extremist or radical Muslim just Muslim, as an insult and a way to discredit, impeach, and sometimes even justify killing the president of the US, then you know that this sentiment is woven into society to an alarming degree.

    • Just_Stopping_By

      Agreed. I’m just stuck between two possible explanations for what happened at the Arizona branch of the ADL, and I don’t know which is worse. Was this a deliberate attempt to fight a law using Islamophobia, or are they so oblivious that this just “sounded right” to them? Either explanation would be bad.

      That said, the Slate piece and the Arizona CAIR letter are a bit misleading. Here is a link to the actual Arizona-ADL letter:,d.eW0 . It has the following examples:

       An employer could raise SB 1062 as defense to an employee’s equal pay claim under A.R.S. §23-341 arguing that his or her religious beliefs require that men be paid more than women.  The legislation could be used as defense to paying statutorily accrued interest on liens or other amount owed to individuals or private entities based on a religious objection to paying interest.  A secular corporation with religious owners could refuse to hire someone from a different religion, so as to avoid paying a salary that might be used for a purpose that is offensive to the owners’ religious views.  A Christian-owned hotel chain might refuse to rent rooms to those who would use the space to study the Koran or Talmud.  A Muslim-owned cab company might refuse to drive passengers to a Hindu temple.

      Again, I think what the Arizona branch of the ADL did was wrong, though if they had had a third example with a Jewish-owned business also engaged in discrimination, I think it would have been sufficiently balanced.

    • Solid Snake

      Wow, what a low blow. Shameful really, we haven’t said a thing nor are we involved in that situation yet they have to fucking mention us? See the stereotype isn’t whats making me angry, no I’ve heard worse. Its the fact that they say it so casually, like its everyday common sense. Whenever you need an example of a POSSIBLE crime or violence or discrimination just use Muslims or even better, Arabs. No one will say anything and if we ever do, we are trying to suppress free speech like when people peacefully petitioned that pop star to remove the Islamic imagery.

      We are accused of doing bad things whether we are vocal or silent, whether we are involved in a certain situation or not.

    • mindy1

      The ADL should be combating prejudice against all. For my Jewish brethren to engage in that kind is embarrassing and I am sorry about that.

    • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

      I don’t think anything will change in the near or mediate term in regards to Israel, but maybe their strategy in regards to Muslim Americans will, it has to in my opinion.

    • JD

      Yes right… ADL is nothing but a mouth piece and lobby group for Israel pretending to fight “defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all” If Abe goes and Bob takes over it wont matter there mission and job is the same

    • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

      Maybe things will change at the ADL once Abe Foxman finally retires, which is supposed to be soon.

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