Leaving tolerance in a museum

LEAVING TOLERANCE IN A MUSEUM…. My understanding of the meaning of the word “tolerance” may be off, but it’s more likely I’m not the one who’s confused.

The Museum of Tolerance opened in Manhattan this week, on a mission to help the world transcend discrimination and prejudice. Great timing, because there’s been a lot of that lately, with angry opponents to the proposed Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero deriding the project as a “house of evil” where terrorists will “worship their monkey-god.” Thankfully, the Museum of Tolerance is here to advocate for acceptance join the opposition. Looks like tolerance really does belong in a museum, eh eh?

The museum is funded by The Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization. Rabbi Meyer May, the Wiesenthal Center’s executive director, tells Crain’s the proposed location is “insensitive” to the families of 9/11 victims, adding that “religious freedom does not mean being insensitive…or an idiot. Religion is supposed to be beautiful…. Why create pain in the name of religion?”

This is, by the way, the same Wiesenthal Center that, in 2006, built a museum on top of an old Muslim burial ground in Jerusalem. It “created pain,” but that apparently didn’t matter at the time.

In related news, reader J.C. alerted me to an item from Fareed Zakaria, who was honored five years ago by the Anti-Defamation League’s Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize. In light of the ADL’s inexplicable, incoherent opposition to the Cordoba House, Zakaria has decided to return the award and the $10,000 honorarium that came with it.

That was an honorable move on Zakaria’s part, which says a lot about his character. It’s good to know that while controversies like these can sometimes bring out the worst among the small-minded among us, we can still find examples of courage and honor.

Update: The ADL has responded to Zakaria, and in a bizarre twist, has begun to question the motives of those who wish to build the Muslim community center. Dear ADL, quit while you’re behind.