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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

No Place for Haters

Porcupine has been trying to put this post up since last Friday - but the story keeps evolving so fast that he has held off. Now, however, the time is ripe, if not passed, and Porcupine wishes to call an unusual coincidence to the attention of all.

It began with listening to Rep. Rachel Kaprilian on the Finneran Forum show on WRKO. Rep. Kaprialian was detailing how she had led the Watertown Town Council to ask the 'No Place for Hate' (NPFH) group to leave, as it refused to recognize the
Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Turks in 1915. As it happens, Porcupine lived next door to survivors of the Genocide, and knew how devastating it had been for them - the grandmother kept the entire front room of the house dark, with candles, incense and ikons as a shrine to remember the family members butchered. Porcupine was much impressed with Rep. Kaprilian's chops in insisting that this lack of acknowledgement was wrong and should be corrected.
While listening, Porcupine was reminded of a recent flap in the Cape Cod 'No Place for Hate' organizations, fairly summarized in an editorial from the Barnstable Patriot
HERE. At the time, it seemed like mere political correctness - how could a 'majority' Christian denomination be attacked with a hate crime, since such a target must be, ipso facto, a minority? A deplorable lapse, an oddity.

Also, Porcupine was mildly surprised to hear Rep. Kaprilian speak as if No Place for Hate was some sort of wholly owned subsidiary of the Anti-Defamation League. That isn't how it was presented at the various town meetings which adopted the program. The Harwich No Place For Hate blog -
HERE - is typical in listing the ADL among a laundry list of supporters, including ACLU of Mass., ADC, AIM, NAACP, and the Harwich Clergy Association. In fact, virtually all of the NPFH activity on Cape has centered on gender and racial issues, not anti-Semitism. But, just another oddity.

On Saturday, the New England ADL decided to back Rep. Kaprilian and announced that they would agree that the Arlington group should acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. The spokesman was Andrew Tarsy, the regional director for New England. He was intelligent and accomodating, and acknowledged that the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians was indeed a genocide. So once again, chops for Rep. Kaprilian, and all's well that ends well.

But that was not the end. Mr. Tarsy was promptly fired for breaking with national policy, prompting the resignation on Sunday of two board members - Michael Ross, the Boston City councillor and Stewart Cohen, former president of the Polaroid Corp.

By Monday, the ADL was grudgingly admitting that if the word had existed at the time, then perhaps what they persist in calling the 'Armenian massacres' may have been referred to in that way, but it's all over now, and there's no sense in upsetting Turkey, as it's one of the few Muslim nations which isn't bent upon destroying Isreal outright. Yet in fact the word was invented to describe what happened to the Armenians in the 1940's - using their history as a parallel for what might be happening to Jews in Europe.

By today, the ADL had reversed itself, and acknowledged that the use of the term was correct, but had not yet decided to hire back Mr. Tarsy.

The ADL was founded 90 years ago to educate people, to point out that unreasoning hatred must be stopped by the communities in the world. Darfur, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kurdistan - all these ethnic cleansings were and are genocide, and the Jewish ADL should be at the forefront of decrying them.

Which brings us back to Barnstable. The idea of being a No Place for Hate community is a worthy one - as long as Baptists, Balcks, Armenians, Gays, and Jews are all afforded the same respect and protection. Otherwise, the shunners of Hate risk becoming Haters themselves.

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