E Pluribus Umbrage Redux: Maybe It's "Extolerance"


If you contract Islamophobia, do you have to stop being an anti-Semite?

Hey, Afghans! Not everybody in America is burning copies of the Koran! Here's a little rally against "Islamaphobia" featuring members of Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace and other groups, held this morning outside L.A.'s Museum of Tolerance at Pico and Roxbury. 

I didn't have time to stop for the demo, but was surprised by it. How can a museum be putting down a religion when it's a museum of tolerance? Here's a press release from Code Pink: 

50 years ago, the Freedom Riders, a group of black and white women and men who had been trained in non-violence, went to the Deep South to challenge Jim Crow laws and end segregation in interstate public transportation facilities… 

50 years later, we live in a time of widespread Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.

On April 6, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's "Museum of Tolerance" is honoring the Freedom Riders and asking them to speak to high school students in a videoconference. But it has failed to be a voice for justice for the Muslim community. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has opposed the building of the Park51 Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan and is building a new "Museum of Tolerance" on the site of a historic Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, over strong opposition from relatives of those buried there and others.

Who will speak for the Irish?

Code Pink's Kristen Ess Schurr says the L.A. demonstration topped out at about 15 people. Jewish Voice for Peace spokesman Jess Bacon (seriously) says a counterpart demo in New York draw about 25 45. 

I don't know whether the Mamilla cemetery issue is worth getting worked up about. The Jerusalem site has become a hot button issue – not a big hurdle to clear in that neck of the woods. But there's evidence that the development of the graveyard site was slated for development as far back as 1945. 

I was surprised, however, to find that the demonstrators' claim about the Ground Zero Mosque and School of Dance was accurate. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which funds the Museum of Tolerance, did oppose the Park51 development back when that issue was still in the headlines. I'd think the whole "tolerance" thing would include tolerating the exercise of somebody else's First Amendment rights. 

In any event, it's an interesting demonstration of my nearly decade-old Reason cover story "E Pluribus Umbrage," the gist of which is that there really is no pure anti-discrimination movement on earth, just competing interests, conflicting group identities, and claims of offense. In the measly world of identity politics, everybody ends up hating everybody else.