Where Is The ACLU?BY ALICIA COLON
August 15, 2007
Now that Dhabah aka Debbie Almontaser has resigned as the principal-designate of the Khalil Gibran International Academy and has been replaced by a Jewish woman, Danielle Salzberg, some assume the opposition to the school itself is over. That supposition would be false. Commenting on the new principal, the Stop Madrassa Community Coalition released this statement: “Salzberg is completely implicated in Almontaser’s radical designs for KGIA. She should be permitted to return to New Visions to work on other schools, and KGIA should not open in September.”
The demand for information from the Department of Education continues. The big question is why isn’t the ACLU involved in this issue?
The last I heard, this legal civil liberty organization was seeking removal of a cross in a Louisiana courtroom and threatening a lawsuit in Connecticut because a public school was using a cathedral for its commencement ceremony. Meanwhile New York has created an Arabic public school which has several religious clerics on the advisory board. That’s as incongruous as if the city had established a Gaelic school with Cardinal Egan on the Board.
The New York Sun has been reporting the existence of this school since March 16th when our education columnist Andrew Wolf wrote, “The city’s Department of Education is wrong in establishing any school that focuses exclusively on one culture.” In April, Daniel Pipes warned that a Madrassa was growing in Brooklyn and by the time my May column calling it a monstrous idea appeared, a grassroots community group seeking to end this project was formed. Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition sent a Freedom of Information Law request to the governor and the mayor. One of the representatives, Sara Springer, went on the “Hannity & Colmes” program to explain that the DOE had not responded to requests for information on the proposed curricula or why the school has a religious advisory board. Another panelist on the cable show was Hussein Ibish, executive director of the Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab-American Leadership, who supports the school and asserted that the coalition’s Web site, http://www.stopmadrassa.wordpress.com, was filled with bigotry and hatred. In her resignation, Ms. Almontaser said the critics’ “intolerant and hateful tone has come to frighten some of the parents and incoming parents.” It’s so easy to toss that word, “hate” when confronted by opposition to one’s agenda but I found nothing on that Web site or in any of the critics’ (who include Diane Ravitch and Randi Weingarten) statements that compares to the fury of supporters of the school. Once my column was quoted by the New York Times, I received what can only be described as evil correspondence condemning me in vivid detail to the same fate as certain Holocaust victims. It certainly made me wonder what kind of person still reads the New York Times. Reuters also accused me of inflaming Islamophobia. That was a mild curse, but Reuters is hardly a credible news source anymore since they were once again caught using fake photographs to illustrate their news.
All parties agree that we do need more Arab language instruction, if only for our national security. When I was in high school during the Cold War, our school offered Russian as an after-school program. Ms. Springer told me, “Students should take languages as electives. Our American way of life, principles, and Constitution cannot be allowed to dissolve in multiculturalism and sensitivity training.”
The question is, where is the ACLU? If a cross is anywhere to be found on public property, the ACLU will file a case to have it removed. Yet, clearly, this zeal is nonexistent when it involves Islam.
The University of Michigan-Dearborn is spending $25,000 to build footbaths for Muslim students. In San Diego, an experimental school, Carver Elementary, has morphed into one with accommodations for Muslim prayers and dietary needs not previously made for Christian and Jewish students. In San Francisco, the Bryon Union School District held a three week “How to be a Muslim” program wherein students prayed to Allah and took Islamic names. When the case was taken to court, the liberal Ninth Circuit ruled for the school.
Perhaps the ACLU requires someone to initiate the complaint and atheists only seem interested in targeting Christian artifacts. Exactly what is it about the religion of peace that makes it immune from litigious nonbelievers?