KGIA Board: More than Meets the Eye – Reverend Calvin Butts at the U.N.

We’ll be profiling the members of the KGIA Advisory board this week, so come back daily.

You can read about the three Imams on the Advisory board here (Klein and Bloomberg couldn’t find any secular Muslims in New York City apparently for the board, so it was all Imams, all the time for the KGIA advisors).

Today’s KGIA Advisory Board Profile: Reverend Calvin Butts

First, Reverend Calvin Butts (at right with Mayor Bloomberg) official biography, as background:

In 1972, Butts received his B.A. degree from Morehouse College. While a student, Butts pledged Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and was active in civil rights. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Butts and several other Morehouse students took to the streets in anger. After graduation, he returned to New York and earned his master of divinity degree in church history in 1975 from Union Theological Seminary and later his doctorate of ministry in church and public policy from Drew University. While still in graduate school, Butts was hired to work at Abyssinian Baptist Church. He began as an office assistant and worked his way up to assistant pastor, eventually being named head pastor in 1989.

As pastor of one of Harlem’s largest churches, Butts has been committed to the church’s goal of creating a viable and dynamic community in central Harlem. In 1989, he establish [sic] the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a non-profit community-based housing and commercial development organization. Through the corporation, $2.8 million was raised for the purchase and renovation of twenty-six apartment units for the homeless across the street from the church. A $9 million 100-unit senior citizens apartment complex has also been constructed and a number of moderate income condominiums have been renovated in conjunction with the Partnership for New York City program.

Butts hosts a weekly radio show. He also serves as president of the Council of Churches of New York, vice-chair of the Board of Directors of the United Way, and in 1999, he was appointed president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury. Additionally, he serves as chairman of the National Affiliate Development Initiative of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

On Oprah, Reverend Butts is described recommending that “peace is the best way to combat terrorism.” Glad we cleared that up, thanks for the advice.
Butts’ endorsed Mayor Bloomberg for re-election in 2005 and was part of the bi-partisan coalition that voted Bloomberg into his second term. Therefore, Butts may anticipate being a key influence and voice in Bloomberg’s planned presidential campaign, so we should see the kinds of views Bloomberg could be endorsing as part of his political platform.

And of course, as a member of the advisory board of the public Khalil Gibran International Academy, Butts’ views also show how he would advise the principal and teachers to teach history, religion, and current events. His presence on the advisory board was approved by the Department of Education, so his views also presumably reflect the views of Chancellor Klein, Chief Executive for New Schools Harries, and that friend of (unindicted co-conspirator in terrorist financing) CAIR, Dhabah Almontaser, principal of the school.

Reverend Butts spoke at a U.N. conference (held on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7 2004) entitled “Confronting Islamophobia: Education for Tolerance and Understanding,” the second seminar in a series on “Unlearning Intolerance” organized by the U.N. Department of Public Information. A meticulously detailed report was published by Sharmin Ahmad, of the Minaret of Freedom Institute: UN conference on Islamophobia (pdf file). All the blockquoted statements below are alleged, based solely on her notes, but she was a sympathetic and observant chronicler of the meeting. All brackets are in her original report.

According to Ms. Ahmad’s notes:

Calvin O. Butts, president of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in the city of New York delivered a heartfelt speech in the second panel. He greeted the audience “in the name of Allah and testify that prophet Muhammad is His messenger.” He said that he could utter the Muslim article of faith because he knows who he is and his Christian identity, adding,”I am not afraid of any one who loves God. Muslims and Christians are united in God.”Referring to his African heritage, he said “I am very aware of Christian extremism,” and credited El-Hajj Malik (Malcolm X) for bringing true message of equality in Islam. He urged the people of faith to confront materialism and the “pornographic view of the world”. Memory is short-lived, he said, when people forget how the colonists subjugated the Africans by using religion, or that the Oklahoma City bombing, carried out by the Christian Rightists, was not the act of Muslims. He concluded with as salamualaikum….

Reverend Calvin O. Butts commented that most Americans will not acknowledge their own racism. The Muslims, like the African-Americans have to be aggressive in a nonviolent way in their demands for equal and fair representations and build a coalition.

That report actually captures some of the give and take of the conference, although it was about 95% an exercise in U.N. sponsored dhimmitude. But most interesting, in light of the KGIA, were comments on teaching and textbooks:

A question was asked as to why there is Islamophobia when World Religions is taught in the U.S high schools? Dr. Scott Appleby answered that textbooks alone will not dispel Islamophobia; direct interaction will. Reverend Butts in answering a similar question said that Islamophobia exists because most Muslims are people of color. “They cannot call them Nigger, but terrorists.” Dr. al-Hibri pointed out that the U.S constitution protects people’s faith but not terrorists, “so it’s eas[ier] to call [one a] terrorist than Muslim” Dr. Feldman disagreed saying that not all Americans view Muslims as terrorists. America is a great nation, which espouses diversity.

But wait – there’s more! A few other comments from the conference provide useful insights into the “peace-building” and “conflict resolution” that are an important part of the KGIA plan.

The CAIR representative of the New York chapter asked why none of the activist organizations such as CAIR, ISNA, ICNA or ADC were invited to present on the panel. The support of these organizations is needed to formulate a plan of action. Shashi Tharoor answered that his points were well taken and the session was indeed meant to be a dialogue so that in future peoples’ concern could be addressed and plans formulated to resolve their plight. Moushumi Khan, an attorney of Bangladeshi origin, called on the Muslims who have contributed greatly to this society to stop being apologetic. Several panelists recommended targeting the youth population and training them in conflict resolutions and peace buildings.

John Esposito (Georgetown University, $20 million from the Saudis) made sure the Western civilization was blamed for terrorism and Islamofascism , in what for him was an unusually blatant statement (he’s smoother these days):

He traced the root of Islamophobia in European history, carried over to the present time and manifested itself through Reagan’s rhetoric when, following the Iranian revolution, he labeled Iran as the “New Evil Empire”. Islamophobia is also “fueled by the militant Zionist Christian Rightists and the Neo-Conservatives,” he noted. “Islam is not the enemy; religious extremism is,” he concluded.

Esposito’s concerns about the danger of “militant Zionist Christian Rightists” reflected Butts’ comments, and found support in the introductory remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan who outlined the very approach now being taken by KGIA towards “enlivening” the regular curricula from an Islamist perspective:

Kofi Annan stressed the “need to unlearn the stereotypes that have become so entrenched in so many minds and so much of the media.” Islam, contrary to the stereotype, is not opposed to the West, but contributed to the Western heritage and helped advance European civilization through commerce, cooperation, art and science, he stressed. The hostility between the Muslims and the West is rooted in specific policies adopted by the West, which includes colonization and domination of the Muslim world. That such policies are
responsible for fueling resentment among Muslims must be acknowledged to combat Islamophobia with an understanding that the Muslims have reacted against these specific policies and not the West in general.

Reverend Butts is a good friend of the Mayor, and Mayor Bloomberg has stated that the KGIA will open, no matter what New York city residents say, no matter what we discover about the school’s ties to Islamists, no matter what we think of Mayor Bloomberg’s support for “Intifada in NYC.” We appreciate being handed a permanent issue on which to educate the American public about Islamist efforts to infiltrate K-12 education nationwide, with a focus on Mayor Bloomberg’s and Chancellor Klein’s personal involvement.

The city is already in non-compliance with the legal deadlines for responding to the FOIL requests we have sent. And increasing numbers of New York City residents are unhappy with the Mayor and Chancellor Klein. According to Sol Stern in the City Journal on July 27:

More than two dozen parent groups and district education councils have passed resolutions opposing Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s latest school reorganization plans. According to the Quinnipiac poll of city residents, Klein’s favorability rating has fallen to just 37 percent, and a majority of New Yorkers want something like an independent board of education or a commission with oversight powers….

When the state legislature begins debating the reauthorization of mayoral control next year, one question that it will surely have to consider is whether mayoral control can deliver true accountability.

Whether KGIA starts or not, the citizen outcry will continue against the Mayor’s and Chancellor’s support of KGIA principal Dhabah Almontaser and her “Intifada NYC” program with awaam.org, or the Mayor’s decision to pack a public school board with left wing and Islamist clerics. If Bloomberg and Klein refuse to shut down a school run by Islamists, perhaps the state legislature will do their job and remove control of the schools from the Mayor.

The Advisory Council of Khalil Gibran International Academy

Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter, Old First Reformed Church

Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, Abyssinian Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Charles H. Straut Jr., The Riverside Church

Rev. Khader N. El-Yateem, Salem Arabic Lutheran Church

Rabbi Andy Backman, Congregation Beth Elohim

Rabbi Melissa Weintraub, Rabbis for Human Rights

Rabbi Micah Kelber, The Bay Ridge Jewish Center

Lisel Burns, Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

Imam Talib Abdul-Rashid, Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, Harlem

Imam Shamsi Ali, 96th St. Mosque, Manhattan

Imam Khalid Latif, Chaplain, NYPD

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