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Remember Dr. King's Dream by Supporting American Muslims

Posted by on Jan. 21, 2013 at 3:45 PM
  • 57 Replies
3 moms liked this

Remember Dr. King's Dream by Supporting American Muslims

Posted: 01/17/2013 4:56 pm

2013-01-17-RabbiandRussell.jpg

On Jan. 7, exactly two weeks before we are to simultaneously celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and inaugurate Barack Obama to his second term as President of the United States, sinister advertisements went up in dozens of subway stations around New York City, making evident that despite the undoubted strides our nation has made toward achieving justice and equality, bigotry and fear-mongering remain alive and well in America.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, headed by Pamela Geller, an inflammatory demagogue with a long history of anti-Muslim incitement, purchased space in 39 stations for ads with an image of the burning World Trade Center and a quote attributed to the Quran saying, "Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers." The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which administers New York's transit system, said the ads will run for a month.

This new ad campaign is Round Two of Geller's pernicious campaign to whip up hatred of American Muslims by placing ads in transit systems around the nation. Last September, Geller's group paid for ads in subway stations and on buses in New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Chicago and Denver, which read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad." Those ads not only falsely conflated belief in Islam with enmity to Israel, but also implied that adherents of Islam are savages.

The Quranic verse (3:151) which Geller cites in her new ad campaign refers to a moment in early Muslim history in which a large army of idol worshippers from Mecca stood poised to invade Medina in an attempt to wipe out a small community of Muslims living under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad. If the passage sounds harsh to modern ears, let us not forget that the Torah contains numerous commands by God to the Children of Israel to indiscriminately slay unbelievers and members of enemy tribes.

More than 1,000 years later, Jewish sages of the Talmudic period provided interpretation and context to such quotes; making clear that they are not meant to be interpreted literally or to hold true for eternity. A similar oral tradition, mitigating harsh passages in the Quran, took place in Islam in the centuries following the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Just as no one but an unabashed anti-Semite would suggest that Judaism is a bloodthirsty religion because of biblical passages commanding the Children to Israel to kill their enemies, no one but an anti-Muslim bigot would cite a Quranic verse out of context to smear modern-day Muslims.

It goes without saying that the latest ads in New York subway stations are antithetical to the message of Dr. King, who denounced bigotry against people of all backgrounds. He repeatedly condemned anti-Semitism and would no doubt have denounced the present-day campaign against American Muslims.

We believe too that Dr. King would have been critical of recent court rulings affirming that anti-Muslim ads must be allowed because of First Amendment protections. Freedom of speech is one thing, but demonization of a particular religious, racial or ethnic community is quite another. We doubt that a judge would rule -- or the MTA would accept -- that it is OK to put up billboards referring to Jews, African-Americans or gay people as savages; or asserting that Judaism or Christianity seek to strike terror into the hearts of unbelievers. Yet somehow free speech trumps the right of American Muslims; members of a small and relatively defenseless community, to use transit systems in cities across America without being confronted by placards that drag their religion through the mud.

Yes, as the horrors of 9/11 made vividly clear, there is an extremist cohort that twists the doctrines of Islam to justify terrorism, and we must be vigilant in fighting this group. Yet, as we have learned firsthand through the work we have undertaken at The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding to build ties of understanding and trust between Jews and Muslims, the vast majority of American Muslims are decent, loyal and law-abiding citizens who abhor terrorism and violence. Like their Jewish and Christian counterparts, they want only to practice their faith freely while simultaneously being proud and productive Americans who contribute to the well-being of the larger society.

Tragically, Muslim-baiting of the kind in which Geller and other Islamophobes engage has devastating real-world consequences for American Muslims. In recent years, there have been a growing number of violent -- and sometimes murderous -- hate crimes directed at innocent Muslims and others mistakenly believed to be Muslims. Mosques have vandalized and even firebombed.

If we as a society wish to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to uphold the hope for a more just and inclusive America implicit in the second inauguration of Barack Obama, we must say a collective "no" to the shameful campaign to stigmatize and scapegoat our fellow Americans of the Muslim faith. By taking that stand, we re-affirm the credo of our nation's founders -- that all Americans, regardless of background, are equal and are worthy of being be treated with respect.

Rabbi Marc Schneier and Russell Simmons are President and Chairman of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a New York-based not for profit dedicated to strengthening ties of communication and cooperation between diverse racial and religious communities.

Follow the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding on Twitter: @FFEUny

 


Follow Rabbi Marc Schneier on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@MarcSchneier

by on Jan. 21, 2013 at 3:45 PM
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Replies (1-10):
mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Jan. 21, 2013 at 4:15 PM
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yes He did mean equality for all.

Naturewoman4
by Platinum Member on Jan. 21, 2013 at 6:04 PM
3 moms liked this

I'm sorry, but I think this whole Obama getting sworn in on MLK's Day is so inappropriate.  The reason why imo, is because MLK's messege IMO is not Obama's.  I have studied/watched anything I could find on MLK.  Obama has nothing in common with MLK.  Obama imo, is a disgrace to MLK's messege.  MLK imo, would not go along with what Obama's messege is.  I feel sad on MLK's Day, because if he were still alive, he would (IMO) be rallying AGAINST Obama.  I know a lot of people on here, are not going to like reading what I'm saying.  But, it's how I feel.  So, as I think about MLK today, I think of him and NOT Obama. 

annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Jan. 21, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Rabbi Marc Schneier

GET UPDATES FROM Rabbi Marc Schneier
 
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Rabbi Marc Schneier is the 18th generation of a distinguished rabbinic dynasty. He is an international figure who is known for his innovative leadership in the promotion of dialogue and cooperation in intergroup and race relations. As a prominent leader of the Jewish community, Rabbi Schneier has emerged in the forefront of combating anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the Jewish and Muslim communities around the world. He serves as Vice President of the World Jewish Congress, Honorary Chairman of the World Jewish Congress United States and spearheads its Commission on Intergroup Relations; Founder and President of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (1990) of which Russell Simmons is Chairman; and Founding Rabbi of The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach and The New York Synagogue in Manhattan. He has been honored by the United States Congress and the State of Israel as an advocate for human and civil rights and religious and ethnic tolerance. In 2009, Rabbi Schneier was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Jan. 21, 2013 at 6:06 PM
GET UPDATES FROM Russell Simmons
 
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USA Today recently named Russell Simmons one of the "Top 25 Most Influential People of the Past 25 Years," calling him a "hip-hop pioneer" for his groundbreaking vision that has influenced music, fashion, finance, television and film, as well as the face of modern philanthropy.

Russell Simmons has been instrumental in bringing the powerful influence of hip-hop culture to every facet of business and media since its inception in the late 1970s. From producing and/or managing such early hip-hop artists as Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, Whodini and the Beastie Boys to signing seminal luminaries like Jay Z, Foxy Brown and Ludacris, Simmons' groundbreaking vision was crystallized with partner Rick Rubin in the creation of the seminal Def Jam Recordings in 1984, launching the cultural revolution known as hip-hop. Russell Simmons has been the master architect of that phenomenon, envisioning and creating the trends in popular culture. His fashion empire Phat Farm, which begat Baby Phat and Run Athletics, put the definitive stake in the ground for hip-hop clothing and others followed.

His film and television production company with partner Stan Lathan - Simmons Lathan Media - created the wildly successful HBO's "The Def Comedy Jam," "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry," "The Nutty Professor," the Tony Award-winning stage production "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway" and the international hit on MTV, "Run's House." Simmons has put his imprint on the financial services industry, as well, leveling the playing field for all to have access to the American Dream with the Unirush Company's RushCard. In 2006, Simmons broke new ground yet again, becoming the first African American to launch a major jewelry company - Simmons Jewelry Co. (SJC) - with partner and SJC president, Scott Rauch. Major retail chains followed, carrying the company's collections, now distributed to over 2000 stores.

This past Spring, Russell released a new book entitled Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success, which combines effective business practices with a spiritual foundation to be the best you can be. The book was a top 4 New York Times Best Seller, and was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show. And, with Accel Partners' Jim Breyer, Russell co-funded the Simmons' founded unique, personalized internet portal for the hip-hop community - Global Grind - with the purpose of connecting young people around the world, a generation that Simmons has strongly encouraged, nurtured and supported, and one that has proven to be more giving, loving and compassionate than the generation before them. Simmons' newest ventures are two hot clothing collections - Argyle Culture and Atman.

Russell Simmons' interests extend far beyond the business world, and he spends a great deal of his time and considerable energy working for social, political, and philanthropic causes, pushing hip-hop on to new plateaus of power and relevance. Russell and his ventures are driven by a personal and corporate belief that hip-hop is an enormously influential agent for social change, which could be responsibly and proactively utilized to fight the war on poverty and ignorance. In 1995 he, along with his brothers Danny and Joseph Simmons (Rev. Run of Run DMC), founded Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. The organization is dedicated to providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant exposure and access to the arts, as well as offering exhibition opportunities to underrepresented artists and artists of color.

He is also Chairman of Rush Community Affairs and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, dedicated to bringing all religions and ethnicities together. The organization's president is Rabbi Marc Schneier, also head of the World Jewish Congress. Following the historic Hip-Hop Summit Russell organized in June of 2001, he co-founded the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) with civil rights activist Dr. Benjamin Chavis. HSAN's mission is to harness the cultural relevance of hip-hop music as a catalyst for education advocacy and other societal concerns fundamental to the well being of at-risk youth throughout the United States. HSAN enables artists to use their celebrity to give back to the community. Among HSAN's major initiatives is helping to spearhead the first changes to the Rockefeller Drug Laws since 1973, orchestrating getting $300 million added back into the New York City education budget, Hip-Hop Team Vote - a 50-city grassroots force that worked throughout 2004 to register and mobilize young voters across the country, as well as three successful years of the "Get Your Money Right" Financial Empowerment International Summits. HSAN has traveled the country and the world implementing over 60 Hip-Hop Summits empowering young people around the issues of education, financial literacy and voting.

In 2006, after a trip to Africa to see how some diamonds were positively affecting the lives of Africans where they are a natural resource, he created The Diamond Empowerment FundTM (D.E.F.) to help Africans help Africa and sensitize the diamond industry to the plight of the Africans. Simmons Jewelry Co. has created a special collection of jewelry - The Green Initiative - which is giving back to Africa through D.E.F. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Petra Nemcova's Happy Hearts Fund, which gives aid to children throughout the world who are victims of natural disasters.

Russell Simmons is a native New Yorker who attended City College of New York.

Russell and Kimora Lee have two daughters, Ming Lee and Aoki Lee.
Naturewoman4
by Platinum Member on Jan. 21, 2013 at 6:09 PM
1 mom liked this

I agree, that MLK's Dream would want all American Muslims to be supported as well as ALL Americans in this Country.  No matter what  your race, color & religion is.

annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Jan. 21, 2013 at 6:09 PM
1 mom liked this

 What is Obama's messege ? And why MLK would be AGAINST Obama?


Quoting Naturewoman4:

I'm sorry, but I think this whole Obama getting sworn in on MLK's Day is so inappropriate.  The reason why imo, is because MLK's messege IMO is not Obama's.  I have studied/watched anything I could find on MLK.  Obama has nothing in common with MLK.  Obama imo, is a disgrace to MLK's messege.  MLK imo, would not go along with what Obama's messege is.  I feel sad on MLK's Day, because if he were still alive, he would (IMO) be rallying AGAINST Obama.  I know a lot of people on here, are not going to like reading what I'm saying.  But, it's how I feel.  So, as I think about MLK today, I think of him and NOT Obama. 


 

stormcris
by Christy on Jan. 21, 2013 at 6:09 PM
1 mom liked this

So they should change the inauguration day? It was changed to the 21st if the 20th lands on Sunday back under FDR.

Quoting Naturewoman4:

I'm sorry, but I think this whole Obama getting sworn in on MLK's Day is so inappropriate.  The reason why imo, is because MLK's messege IMO is not Obama's.  I have studied/watched anything I could find on MLK.  Obama has nothing in common with MLK.  Obama imo, is a disgrace to MLK's messege.  MLK imo, would not go along with what Obama's messege is.  I feel sad on MLK's Day, because if he were still alive, he would (IMO) be rallying AGAINST Obama.  I know a lot of people on here, are not going to like reading what I'm saying.  But, it's how I feel.  So, as I think about MLK today, I think of him and NOT Obama. 


rfurlongg
by on Jan. 21, 2013 at 6:11 PM
4 moms liked this
How is he a disgrace to Dr king msg? The point is how far African Americans have come. Politics aside, O embodies the progress Dr King hoped for.

Quoting Naturewoman4:

I'm sorry, but I think this whole Obama getting sworn in on MLK's Day is so inappropriate.  The reason why imo, is because MLK's messege IMO is not Obama's.  I have studied/watched anything I could find on MLK.  Obama has nothing in common with MLK.  Obama imo, is a disgrace to MLK's messege.  MLK imo, would not go along with what Obama's messege is.  I feel sad on MLK's Day, because if he were still alive, he would (IMO) be rallying AGAINST Obama.  I know a lot of people on here, are not going to like reading what I'm saying.  But, it's how I feel.  So, as I think about MLK today, I think of him and NOT Obama. 

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Jan. 21, 2013 at 6:11 PM
3 moms liked this


Quoting Naturewoman4:

I'm sorry, but I think this whole Obama getting sworn in on MLK's Day is so inappropriate.  The reason why imo, is because MLK's messege IMO is not Obama's.  I have studied/watched anything I could find on MLK.  Obama has nothing in common with MLK.  Obama imo, is a disgrace to MLK's messege.  MLK imo, would not go along with what Obama's messege is.  I feel sad on MLK's Day, because if he were still alive, he would (IMO) be rallying AGAINST Obama.  I know a lot of people on here, are not going to like reading what I'm saying.  But, it's how I feel.  So, as I think about MLK today, I think of him and NOT Obama. 

I wouldn't have assumed anything different from you as far as this reply

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