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New Republic Editor Apologizes for Saying Muslims Don't Deserve Rights

5 years ago
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Martin Peretz, the liberal hawk who supported Barack Obama with almost the same ferocity that he backs Israel, has apologized for a sentence in a widely disseminated column he wrote about the Ground Zero mosque furor in which he suggested that Muslims don't deserve First Amendments protections.

At the end of a Sept. 4 blog post at the website of The New Republic, the influential, neo-liberal periodical he edits, Peretz blasted what he saw as overly heightened sensitivities to the feelings of U.S. Muslims. He concluded:
But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf [head of the group proposing the Lower Manhattan Islamic center] there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood.

So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.
That last line in particular surprised many people, as Peretz and The New Republic have always been staunch supporters of constitutional rights. It zipped around the blogosphere and touched off a good deal of criticism of Peretz, most notably an op-ed on Saturday by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Kristof opened his piece by calling Peretz's remarks an example of "how venomous and debased the discourse about Islam has become."

On Monday, a chastened Peretz issued a mea culpa for the sentence Kristof quoted about Muslims and the First Amendment -- a rare occurrence for a man who confesses that "vociferousness is my business."

The line "genuinely embarrasses me, and I deeply regret it," Peretz wrote.
I wrote that, but I do not believe that. I do not think that any group or class of persons in the United States should be denied the protections of the First Amendment, not now, not ever. When I insist upon a sober recognition of the threats to our security, domestic threats included, I do not mean to suggest that the Constitution and its order of rights should in any way be abrogated. I would abhor such a prospect.

I do not wish upon Muslim Americans the sorts of calumnies that were endured by Italian Americans in connection with Sacco and Vanzetti and Jewish Americans in connection with communism. My recent comments on the twisted Koran-hating reverend in Gainesville will give evidence of that. So I apologize for my sentence, not least because it misrepresents me.
But he did defend his other statement: "Frankly, Muslim life is cheap, especially for Muslims." Peretz wrote:

The idea that in remarking upon the cheapening of Muslim lives I was calling for the cheapening of Muslim lives, as some have suggested, is preposterous. There is no hatred in my heart; there is deep anxiety about the dangers of Islamism, and anger at the refusal of certain politicians and commentators to adequately grasp those dangers, but there is no hatred, none.
There has been a lot of rhetoric and hyperbole about Islam in recent weeks. Could this be a sign that the fever is breaking?

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rsvpunltd I believe that the entire 9-11/mosque building episode could have been handled differently by at least two of our leaders who are most able to influence the two adversarial sides involved. These two leaders,whom I admire enormously, are President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg of New York. When making their public statements, instead of simply pointing out the constitutional guarantees of the first amendment,which all reasonal minds readily acknowledge and champion, perhaps they, or some power(s)that be, should have suggested putting together a joint blue ribbon panel/committee of key players from both sides (families of 9/11 victims and muslim clerics and/or mosque developers) for a good old fashion socio-economic business dialogue of give and take and compromise. Perhaps this is over-simplification on my part but I do not think so. (Reasonable minds will differ some of the time but, inherently, they also must agree some of the time - - maybe, hopefully 50-50, i.e., if they are "reasonable minds", as we must presume them to be or we are all doomed from the outset - in this or any future encounters with our muslim neighbors.) Prospects of future encounters are virtually a given, as are encounters with other so-called marginalized/disenchanted segments of soceity- - that's just the way it is in a caldron or melting pot of races and religions. Back to the public statements by Obama and Bloomberg, I think they should made reference to lack of any muslim discrimination as the basis of this dispute. (When anyone talks about constitutional guarantees, it implies in my mind that there is an issue discrimination, which I do not see as being the case here, this is a case reasonable sensitivities being expressed by family members of the victims of 9/11. The same kind of muslim sensitivies we see when christian finatics talk of burning korans or the sensitivities we would see had these finatics actually bombed a mosque. This is it, nothing more!! And the way we could have offered (or could now offer) to demonstrate or document the total absence of any muslim discrimination here was to, first recognize the fact this muslim mosque would be welcomed, even invited, to be built virtually anywhere else in the entire United States. And, what is more, undoubtedly many of those opposed to the mosque development in the proposed site would be the first to offer to help physically build it, to even help finance it or to totally finance it - - as a fund raising campaign by the nation (Dondald Trump already put some monies on the table for this purpose.)! So, if this is true, what would prevent "reasonable muslim minds" from possibly being sensitive to these feelings and, therefore willing, to take the "high road" and recognize the enornmous and overwhelming sensitivities involved in this issue. Of course there is no legal position that prevents building on the proposed site, nor should there be but we all have to sometimes make concessions and walk in our "brother's shoes", even if they may be somewhat tight or a tad uncomfortable. (I'm not aware of too many muslim countries that would be willing to extend such hospaltalities (as the charitable gestures mentioned above) to their chrisitian populations). So, in closing, I would say to our muslim brothers that indeed you are well aware of your constitutional rights and priviledges but my question to you is, are you aware of what makes a free country and its people truly great? It is the general recognition and acceptance of the premise that for every right enjoyed by every citizen, there is an attendant, moral, if not legal, responsibility and obligation attached to it. So, I ask you, my fellow Americans, to be compassionate (not because you have to but because it may be the right thing to do. Consider how you would feel, if the finatical Florida christian minister actually bombed one of your mosques, would you want me, as a christian, to come and build a christian church on the same ground? The principle is much the same! In America, you could not stop me but I would not do it out of respect, compassion, understanding and sympathy for your feelings (its called, empathy), something the whole world needs more of(& less me/ego). Signed: Your Humble,Umbiased Observer and Servant, Residing in California PS(This is certainly not intended as a slight or put down of either President Obama or Mayor Bloomberg; I am a staunch admirer and defender of both. This is constructive analysis, in hind-sight, at that.)

September 14 2010 at 6:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I keep hearing that Muslims are peacefully. Well until we can figure which ones are good and bad, I think it is best keep them at arm length. Do I trust them, no. I noticed the tone when Iman stated he was proceeding with the mosque, and stated if he did not go through with it, the the Moslim newspaper would read Islam is under attack. Is this a threat or what.

September 14 2010 at 5:11 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Why can't Americans, those good hearted souls, quit apologizing? You don't find any body in these violent 3rd world countries apologizing. There is no remorse in their hatred of America. Yet Americans seem compelled to be the nice guys. Could it be thats what makes Americans what they are, and why they have entered the last 5 wars on the behalf of oppressed people to save them from dictators of terrible authoritarian regimes. Hope we can survive the infiltration of regimes that want to harm America and Christians.

September 14 2010 at 5:07 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

THE MOVING FINGER WRITES.... Mr. Peretz, a professional writer and editor, was fully aware of precisely what he wrote when he wrote it. His putative apology appears to be driven now by nothing more than extreme pusillanimity in the face of simpering and whining noises emanating from the equally craven politically correct crowd.

September 14 2010 at 3:37 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I think we should get all our people out of Middle Eastern countries, military included. Then deport all radical Islamists to their country of origin. Then do not allow any more Middle Eastern people to become citizens. They hate us, want to kill or conquer us and our President is unwilling to face this or maybe he is still a Muslim deep inside and is hiding the fact for now. At any rate, we are in for a bloodbath if we keep bowing down and deferring to them and their every whim. Wake up and be ready to fight for our country and our way of life or be willing to lose it!

September 14 2010 at 3:26 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

So tell me if muslims come to the usa you think they have rights then the women wont. No planned parenthood for muslim women they must wear black cannot drive must walk behind a man are you libs going to scream about there rights then?

September 14 2010 at 2:48 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

they are using our own strength against us.try to bring a bible into a muslim country,or something WILL be arrested,and the materials burned or at the least destroyed.Even in a moderate state like Saudi Arabia.But you know we need the oil,so oh well.Hey, why don't we build a Shinto shrine at the Arizona memorial in Pearl harbor,and erect a statue to Hiro Hito.wasn't he their god king monarch? how would the WW2 vets feel about that.Oh that's right they are almost all dead now right? so who would remember to even ask about that.And I hate to mention France.I know how so many Americans hate France because of the socialized medicine there.And they opposed gulf war 1 and 2 at least until the UN inspectors had a little more time to look for the WMDs that didn't exist.What did the first democracy in Europe do with the Muslims and their behavior and customs there?Ask yourself,at least find out for yourself.France is for the French people.If you live there you respect France and French law and customs of the country of France.Just as you would have to do if you lived in a Muslim live under the rules customs and laws there.Come on America wake up!!!! Yes we have laws with constitutional protections and that is why America is GREAT.But we also have customs and beliefs that go with it.Newcomers here must accept our customs and way of life.Just like my parents did when they came here after WW2.We spoke Ukrainian in the house out of respect to my dad.But in society USA ALL THE WAY.

September 14 2010 at 2:39 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

When will we ever learn? After Pearl Harbor, we rounded up American citizens, confiscated their property, and threw them into detension camps-- because we were at war with the "Sappy Japs". Hitler's genocide of European Jews was largely ignored or downplayed in the US until after we won WW2 because, after all, they killed "Our Lord". Since Plymouth Rock, religious people have been coming here thinking they escaped the intolerance of their home countries. But of course, that is the fairy tale we tell grade schoolers. The reality is a little bit harsher. It's a sad day for America when ordinary adults still don't understand our Constitution's Bill of Rights-- or why it was written, or what it really means.

September 14 2010 at 2:38 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Mom and Dad

He is right though when he says no muslim has lifted a finger to chastize their own kind for the bloodshed they have caused. Don't you find it interesting that muslims speak volumes when it comes to protection but if their extremist brothers slaughter thousands, all of the sudden they clam up. Sorry, maybe you fools are fooled but I'm not. One can only take so much smoke and mirror crap. Enough is enough.

September 14 2010 at 2:35 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I'm am more than fed up of being told that Islam is a "Religion of Peace," when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family "honor"; of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren't "believers"; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for "adultery"; of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Koran and Sharia law tells them to. Just a ten minute drive away from MY HOME was an ‘honor killing’ -- Muzzammil Hassan, 44, beheaded his wife Aasiya Hassan. Aasiya filed for divorce on February 6, 2009 and obtained an order of protection that barred her husband from their home -- she was beheaded just a few short days after filing. Aasiya Hassan was found at the office of Bridge TV, their television station whose purpose was to spread the word of the ‘peaceful Muslim faith’ ? "The fierce and gruesome nature of this murder signals it's an honor killing," said Dr. Phyllis Chesler, an author and professor of psychology at the Richmond College of the City University of New York. "What she did was worthy of capital punishment in his eyes." -- SICK AND TIRED of all the yelling of equal rights in our America. If you come to America -- abide by OUR standards or STAY OUT! I’ll tighten my belt on allowing constitutional rights to those who openly abuse our giving nature. I completely support the Constitution of the United States of America --- however, come on people ! I am more than willing to allow amendments to our constitution to disallow the abuse of our freedoms by these abusers. If you want to live by your barbaric standards --- live where they are ‘acceptable’. Do not come to our Country and try to change our way of life and abuse our Constitution claiming your rights. As we let ourselves be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that these ‘peaceful Muslims’ offer us… We are being overrun with the Muslim agenda. The NYC Mosque is in itself a loud bold slap in the face to all Americans and should not be allowed. Did you know that the Koran states that a mosque shall be built anywhere that has been taken over or the enemy has been defeated… ? Yes ! The slap heard around the world as we battle THEIR Constitutional Rights ! Let all the critics of those of us who oppose and defy this ‘peaceful agenda’ --- let themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims, who tortured and beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the girls were Christian. Then we'll compare notes. Sick of it in NY !

September 14 2010 at 2:35 AM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

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