Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Leftist “Interfaith” Group Tries to Censor Charlie Sykes

It all started with a parody from Tom McMahon, who was aggravated by the extremely smug and intellectually slovenly bumper sticker in which a variety of religious symbols spell out “COEXIST.”



McMahon produced a parody bumper sticker with Nazi and Communist symbols substituted.



His point, of course, was that some religious views are simply impossible to coexist with, and must (like Nazism and Communism) be fought.

Charlie Sykes picked this up and ran it on his blog, and then the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee jumped in, demanding of Sykes and Sykes’ boss that the symbols be removed.

Interfaith Conference

Is the Interfaith Conference a protector of religious tolerance, attentive to slights against diverse faiths?

No, they are a bunch of liberal bureaucrat/activists who dislike Sykes simply because Sykes is a conservative.

Their leftist politics is not some sort of secret. They advertise it all over their web site.

They are, for example, supporters of socialized medicine. Not only did they sponsor a showing of the Michael Moore film “Sicko,” they strongly supported the “Healthy Wisconsin” proposal in the recent state budget battle.

They are also strong supporters of a Housing Trust Fund supposedly for low-income housing. While this may sound good, in reality it is merely a pork-barrel subsidy for local social activist organizations.

They are supporters of something called “Project Working Communities.” The web site of that project lays out its objectives.

  • When available, all jobs will be with locally owned, union-represented businesses paying living wages and offering full-time work.
  • All construction-phase jobs will pay at least prevailing wage.
  • During construction, at least 25% of jobs will be in Disadvantaged Business Enterprises/Minority Business Enterprises and 5% in Women’s Business Enterprises
  • During construction, at least 25% of employees will be minorities and 5% women.
  • After construction, at least 75% of jobs will pay at least a living wage or market wage (whichever is higher), plus health insurance. The living wage is 110% of the federal poverty line for a family of four (in 2003, $9.73 per hour). Jobs without health insurance will pay at least $2 per hour more.
  • Preferred jobs will be full-time, with sick leave, vacation time, and flexibility for family needs.
In short, unionization and rigid affirmative action quotas will be imposed, and economic reality will be ignored.

The Conferences sponsors a meeting called Common Ground, “A One Day Conference on Racism and White Privilege” where, from all appearances, the race card will be played incessantly. The program from the 2007 conference makes this clear, and the 2006 program features panels on subjects like “Globalization and New Urbanism are metaphors of white privilege,” and “White bonding, hurricane Katrina & other unnatural disasters.” Add to that the enchantingly titled “Old glory, mom, apple pie and racism: A dialogue on race beyond black and white.”

Anybody familiar with the mindset of leftist clerical bureaucrats won’t be surprised to learn that they oppose the death penalty.

Nor to learn that they favor a very liberal approach to immigration, and buy into the standard environmentalist agenda.

Who is Anti-Semitic?

Perhaps the most bizarre thing about the Interfaith Conference statement is the claim that the parody bumper sticker is somehow anti-Semitic. Yet the actions of the Conference raise serious questions. For example:
When the Toledo charity KindHearts was shut down this past February, for raising millions of dollars for Hamas, the group’s leaders got off scott free. One of those leaders was KindHearts’ President, Khaled Smaili. Another was KindHearts’ South Asia Director, Zulfiqar Ali Shah. Unlike Smaili, who has remained virtually silent since the closure, Shah has continued to bask in the spotlight. He now sits in his new digs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Religious Director of a large Islamic institution and the toast of the media. Today, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee will be sponsoring a Shah talk, taking place at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.
And further:
. . . Shah’s love for his fellow man was not manifest, when, just a few years prior, in June of 2001, he spoke of a wild conspiracy regarding Jews retaking the Saudi city of Medina. He said, “If we are unable to stop the Jews now, their next stop is Yathrib (The Prophet’s city of Medina), where the Jews used to live until their expulsion by Prophet Muhammad. That’s the pinnacle of their motives.”
You can find further information on Shah here. Local Milwaukee columnists Cary Spivak & Dan Bice raised a variety of questions about Shah in a 2006 article.

But Shah’s group, the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, is a member of the Interfaith Conference!

The simple fact is that the Interfaith Conference lacks any credibility in attacking Sykes, or making any assertions about religious tolerance.

They are simply a bunch of liberals and leftists who dislike Sykes because they don’t like conservatives.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Out of curiosity, would you consider Archbishop Timothy Dolan to be just a liberal leftist? I only ask because he's on the Board of Directors for the Interfaith Conference.

9:39 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

He's not a liberal leftist, but the vast majority of the other board members are.

And the agenda of the organization is liberal/leftist.

If you disagree, kindly give me an example of a case where they complained about liberal bias toward conservative Christians.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

If you disagree, kindly give me an example of a case where they complained about liberal bias toward conservative Christians.

So either a religious group publicly complains about liberal bias toward conservative Christians, or they're a leftist group in your book?

The bottom line is that your argument about the Interfaith Conference only taking issue in this case because Sykes is a conservative -- as opposed to being legitimately offended at the bumper sticker and the quoted comments regarding Islam and terrorism -- is pretty weak. After all, if the Interfaith Conference sent its letter simply to take an ideological swipe at Sykes, why didn't they bother to publicize it at all? After all, it was Sykes who advertised the letter to the public, not the Interfaith Conference.

8:53 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

After all, it was Sykes who advertised the letter to the public, not the Interfaith Conference.

In the first place, had Sykes taken it down, that would have been widely publicized. And perhaps the Interfaith Conference would have publicized it after that happened.

However . . . I don't doubt the liberals at the liberals at the Interfaith Conference were genuinely offended.

But of course, since they don't like Sykes, they are pretty much spoiling for something from him to be "offended" about.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Or maybe they don't like Sykes because he offends them, which is quite a different issue than criticizing someone (privately, no less) simply because you're not in the same ideological boat. After all, they seem to get along with Dolan just fine.

In the first place, had Sykes taken it down, that would have been widely publicized.

Where? On some blogs? Until Sykes published the letter on his blog and, more importantly, used air time to discuss the issue, it wasn't even a blip on the media radar (aside from Tim Cuprisin, it still isn't). If the post would've just disappeared, a few bloggers on the left would've cheered, but that's about it.

And perhaps the Interfaith Conference would have publicized it after that happened.

All actual evidence points to the fact that it's Sykes who's using this incident as a publicity tool, not the Interfaith Conference.

10:37 PM  
Blogger PaulNoonan said...

Also, they did not try to censor Sykes. They do not have the power to do that.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Dad29 said...

The syncretism expressed by the original "coexist" sticker is offensive to anyone who values that which is true.

It was also smug and condescending--as though those who speak out about the deficiencies of Islam are somehow bellicose, or impolite.

Sorry, Seth, that's wrong. Just as you correct your children when they are wrong, (I think you do, anyway) someone has to correct the Mohammedans.

Benedict XVI has taken an initiative in that regard. So have Sykes and Limbaugh (and countless others), each in their own way.

The IFC's "offense" is spurious.

Further, I seriously doubt that Abp. Dolan formally concurs with ANY letter that espouses religious syncretism. Board member or no, that is not his position.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

You need to read a little more closely, Dad29. I never said that Dolan agreed with the Interfaith Conference's letter to Sykes. What I said is that Dolan's seat on the group's Board of Directors is evidence that the group is very capable and very willing to work with people who are ideologically conservative, which is itself evidence that privately asking Sykes to remove the bumper sticker and comments about Islam from his site wasn't driven by the mere fact that Sykes is a conservative.

And we could probably argue all day about whether the original and altered bumper stickers are truly offensive, along with the specific comments about co-existing with Islam, but that's a discussion that's too subjective to really have much value. My point in commenting here was to address the accusations about why the Interfaith Conference privately contacted Sykes about his post.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's get the law right.

The First Amendment protects against censorship BY THE GOVERNMENT.

A private group or citizen certainly has the constitutional right to criticize the speech of another private citizen (or of the government). That's what Interfaith did. And the hypocrisy here is astounding - since what Sykes and his followers (like MacAdams) are doing is attempting to silence the Interfaith Conference.

11:27 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Anon,

It's correct that the First Amendment only protects people from government censorship.

But that hardly makes private censorship a good thing.

Remember, the leftist clerics wanted the parody bumper sticker removed from the WTMJ web site. Like taken out of public view. Like preventing anybody else seeing it.

what Sykes and his followers (like MacAdams) are doing is attempting to silence the Interfaith Conference.

Sykes posted the letter on his blog!

He put it where everybody could see it!

And of course, when everybody could see what it said, a lot of us jumped on it as silly, hypocritical and politically correct.

That's free speech.

What is the problem you folks have with free speech?

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No problem with free speech, Prof -- if he posted it on his own blog, on a public-access server.

It's posted on his employer's server, and employers are responsible for what's on their servers, too. And when the employer is a media company, that's a bit more complicated. And when it's a media company privately owned by stockholders, they are responsible for it, too.

And you might be aware that such employers have the right -- and responsibility -- to monitor and remove anything on their websites . . . and are wise to do so if they're beholden to stockholders. Especially stockholders who might be getting a bit testy these days about how much the stock has dropped with idiots at the top who are fine with offending major religious leaders and a lot of other people in their town.

It's simple, really, and you do understand it -- as it's why you're here on blogger.com, not on marquette.edu.

11:48 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Anon.

And you might be aware that such employers have the right -- and responsibility -- to monitor and remove anything on their websites . . . and are wise to do so if they're beholden to stockholders.

You mean that a media company's responsibility to stockholders requires them to remove anything that moralistic ninnies don't like?

That doesn't serve the interests of the stockholders.

Airing Sykes, and letting him post what he wants, serves the interests of the stockholders since he gets a huge audience.

Political correctness simply does badly in the free marketplace of ideas.

It's simple, really, and you do understand it -- as it's why you're here on blogger.com, not on marquette.edu.

No, Marquette provides academic freedom to faculty, and I could post anything I post on blogspot on a Marquette server.

The simple fact is that Marquette doesn't have blogging software installed -- at least not so far as I know.

You folks really have a problem with this free speech thing.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No. Perhaps a prof in Econ could explain to you that responsibility to stockholders is to do what's good for business. What the Journal is doing lately is decidedly not good for business; ask any stockholder how the stock has been doing since its turn away from objectivity to advocacy.

As for posting anything you want on Marquette's site, you might want to look into it and maybe talk to more folks there, where there have been cases of postings removed. Not censored; simply removed because the university, like a media company, has legal liability.

12:27 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

What the Journal is doing lately is decidedly not good for business; ask any stockholder how the stock has been doing since its turn away from objectivity to advocacy.

Of course, when you say "advocacy" you don't mean the liberal advocacy of the Journal-Sentinel.

In fact, WTMJ has been going great guns recently. It's the top rated station in the state.

It's the Journal-Sentinel that has been losing circulation. Your liberal or leftist viewpoint simply doesn't do very well when subjected to the test of the market.

That's why liberals want to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. If liberal ideas do poorly in the free marketplace of ideas, use government to force them down people's throats.

. . . there have been cases of postings removed. Not censored; simply removed because the university, like a media company, has legal liability.

Marquette won't censor faculty for simply posting opinions that some people don't like.

It would have to be something like libel, harassment, copyright infringement, and so on.

Makes you mad, doesn't it?

People are free to say things with which you disagree.

2:05 PM  

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