ADL CALLS ON RESPONSIBLE COMMUNITY LEADERS TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST HATEFUL WORDS THAT LEAD TO VIOLENCE IN AFTERMATH OF HARLEM MASSACRE
New York, NY, December 12:
Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti- Defamation League (ADL) today issued the following statement:
"Last Friday's horrifying violence on 125th Street in the heart of Harlem is all the more tragic because it did not happen in a vacuum. It stems from a campaign to drive non-black businesses from a black community, and it is a classic example of what can happen when bigotry and hate spread unchecked.
Racism and anti-Semitism lie at the root of this tragedy, and they are as dangerous as any toxin known to science. They beget violence, distort and pervert legitimate grievances, and destroy innocent families. Their shrewdest purveyors seek to disguise their animus as something more benign, but Americans of good will, of every race and creed, must pierce that veil and denounce the evil, contain it, and keep it from spreading any further. No one can afford to dismiss it as mere rhetoric.
Let us be specific. Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, is the one who set the tone, by speaking repeatedly of "Jewish bloodsuckers." Other black leaders have given him credibility, by standing on his platform and contributing to a climate where hate is tolerated. It is no mere coincidence that the protesters threatening Freddy's clothing store -- with threats serious enough for Freddy's owner to go to court seeking protection -- also invoked the term "bloodsuckers" in a campaign to drive all of the white and Jewish owned businesses from 125th Street.
Juxtapose the image of body bags being carried out of the burnt remains of Freddy's with another image: hundreds assembled for a "Black Holocaust Nationhood Conference" in Washington, DC, on the eve of the Million Man March, cheering anti- Semitic and anti-white speeches -- including a call for the spilling of blood. Even if Louis Farrakhan, Khalid Muhammad, Alton Maddox, Steve Cokely or any of their cronies were not out there in person on the streets of Harlem menacing Freddy's employees and customers, they must bear some responsibility for fomenting the hate which fueled this outrage.
Years ago, in the heyday of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached to and led non-violent demonstrations. Today, all to often similar protests carry an undercurrent of violence. They operate ominously, without parameters or any sense of self- control, and all it takes is the tiniest spark -- and a store burns down, and people die.
It is time for responsible leaders in the mold of Martin Luther King, Jr. to step forward. It is time for such leaders to take a principled stand against bigotry and violence, and against efforts to drive non- black businesses out of black communities. We are ready to stand with them, to stand with anyone capable of looking the haters in the eye and staring them down. But we have no time to lose -- our future as a pluralistic society is at stake.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry."
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