Friday, October 05, 2007

Norm Coleman & Betty McCollum should lead Desmond Tutu protest

The influence and financial power of the Israel lobby appears to be affecting all aspects of foreign policy and now potentially intimidating Free Speech here in Minnesota.

Just as concerning as their impact on foreign policy, the decision by the College of Saint Thomas to deny permission for Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu to give a speech is a surrender of the public desire to hear all viewpoints.
Archbishop Tutu's visit is being organized by youthrive, a nonprofit organization that provides youth with leadership and service-learning opportunities, especially around the concepts of peace building, social justice, anti-racism, human and environmental rights, and ethical leadership.
The topic of his visit is "Making friends out of enemies."
The Strib reports it : was scuttled by university officials who did not want to offend the Jewish community over the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The Pioneer Press reports : that Julie Swiler, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas pointed to a 2002 speech Tutu made in Boston that was pointedly critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians, including a passage where he referred to a "powerful" Jewish lobby in the U.S., which she said invoked a stereotype of Jewish power, and another where he asked aloud if Jews had forgotten that God cares about the downtrodden.”

The headline was that Tutu said “Israel is like Hitler and apartheid.”
But if you read the text of his speech, although Hitler’s name is mentioned, the context must be considered. link People are scared in this country [the U.S.] to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what? This is God’s world. For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosovic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.
Injustice and oppression will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful: What is your treatment of the poor, the hungry, the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes judgment.
We should put out a clarion call to the government of the people of Israel, to the Palestinian people and say: peace is possible, peace based on justice is possible. We will do all we can to assist you to achieve this peace, because it is God’s dream, and you will be able to live amicably together as sisters and brothers.

My reading is that the challenge in his speech was the same as it would have been in the 2008 speech - "Making friends out of enemies."

When will people stop referencing Hitler in speeches ?
The Rochester Post-Bulletin criticized Norm Coleman for his comment concerning Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being invited to Columbia University "I think it's terrible," Coleman said. "Would we be toasting and providing forums for Hitler?"
The P-B assessment is that “America can't boast of democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of the press while squelching the views of those who disagree with us. The rest of the world is watching, and there are those who will seize on any opportunity to shout "Hypocrites!" at the top of their lungs.
IF Tutu’s comments were as headlined, St. Thomas should have stilled allowed him to present his views and confront his critics. But after reading his complete speech and promotion of peace, it is obvious that St. Thomas errored.

So who should lead the charge to right this wrong. I nominate Senator Norm Coleman and Representative Betty McCollum.

Both Coleman and McCollum have had the opportunity to recognize Tutu’s efforts at the PSI/YouthAIDS Annual Gala Faces of Africa in 2005 … three years after his Boston speech. McCollum also knows first hand how words and threats can be used by the “powerful” Jewish lobby … despite having a solid pro-Israel voting record, since she opposed one bill in committee an AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) representative stated "McCollum's support for terrorists would not be tolerated". Hardball to say the least.

So how vocal will Coleman and McCollum support free speech ?
Time will tell.
Let us not worry about "offending the Jewish community" but instead reaching-out to all communities. After all, the theme is "peace building, social justice, anti-racism, human and environmental rights, and ethical leadership" ... a theme that needs constant preaching in today's turbulent world "where peace is possible, peace based on justice is possible."


Richard said...

We should acknowledge that while those newspapers you link to did good stories on this, that the original story came out in the City Paper and that Muzzlewatch and my blog did important follow up reporting which uncovered the manufactured quote you mention. Many Jewish people, even those considering themselves friends of Israel like myself are outraged at St. Thomas' behavior & the JCRC's ridiculous interpretation of Tutu's record.

Thanks for your coverage of this as well.

Anonymous said...

Read the MnSpeak thread: