For nearly a hundred years the crèche sat in front of the Balch Elementary School in South Norwood, Massachusetts. Then in 2004, Sarah Wunsch, attorney for the Massachusetts branch of the American Civil Liberties Union contended that the display depicting the birth of Jesus in a Bethlehem manger, violated separation of church and state. and its presence on the grounds of a public school sent a message that the schools endorse Christianity. ''Kids being driven to school or being dropped off see it and think it's part of school," she said.
Eventually, the ACLU prevailed, the crèche was removed and relocated nearby to private land.
In scores of similar cases, the ACLU and its 50 state affiliates relentlessly scan the horizon for perceived violations of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Supreme Court decisions on religious constitutional issues began in earnest in the late 1940’s, culminating in the landmark decision in the 1962 Engle v. Vitale decision in which the Court ruled that New York’s practice of beginning the school day with a prayer violated the first amendment. Recently, the ACLU has trumpeted its victories in “The Silver Ring Thing” case in which The Department of Health and Human Services was held in violation of the clause by providing “inherently religious activities” in its promotion of an “abstinence before marriage” program. Nor is the ACLU shy about broadcasting its role in eliminating “intelligent design” courses in Pennsylvania public schools. In hundreds of cases, the ACLU neither slumbers nor sleeps when it comes to pursuing miscreants who would subvert our Constitution. Thanks to their efforts, perhaps next year our currency will bear the inscription, “In Litigation We Trust.”
Now imagine my surprise when I couldn’t find anyone – either at the Massachusetts ACLU – or at its big brother in Washington who had brought legal action – or who would even render an opinion - on the construction of a $22,000,000 religious structure on land virtually given away by the city of Boston and attendant religious instruction courses forced on a nearby state-funded college. How could such a monumental religious undertaking involving the obvious endorsement by government officials at every level escape the withering gaze of the watchdogs of the ACLU?
It took only a few phone calls to find the answer. The religious structure and institution was neither a church nor a synagogue. It was a mosque. And not just another mosque. The Islamic Society of Boston’s mosque project will be the largest on the east coast of the United States and will be funded primarily through Middle East emirate money.
Not content with support pledged by Wahhabist Saudi Arabia, the ISB sought to purchase the city-owned land at a bargain basement price. And did they ever succeed. The City of Boston obliged the group by selling its 1.9 acre site valued at $2,000,000 for $175,000. Boldly compounding the fraudulent conveyance part of the scam, the city agreed to receive further in-kind payment from the ISB in the form of an Islamic Library and courses in Islamic instruction at a state facility, Roxbury Community College; not a $200 crèche or a menorah made of scrap tubing, but a multi-million dollar enterprise based on defrauding taxpayers and establishing ongoing indoctrination courses on the glories of Islam. Not only did this enterprise represent “inherent religious activity”, but it went far beyond the ACLU’s floor for triggering action by involving explicit and manifold religious activity.
If, as de Rochefoucault had it, “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue”, the ACLU has to be first in line at that altar. Carol Rose, Director of the Massachusetts ACLU, told me in 2004, in response to a private lawsuit brought by an individual based on violation of the establishment clause, that her organization favored the ISB’s position insofar as the lawsuit “violated that organization’s right of free speech.” After I put my dropped jaw back into place, I suggested that a $22,000,000 mosque built on giveaway city land along with taxpayer funded Islamic indoctrination amounted to a textbook case of Establishment Clause transgression and made the crèche case look like a minor infraction. At that point she terminated the conversation.
Fast forward to March of this year. Major news stories, local and national, are now breaking revealing even more skullduggery at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Islamic Society of Boston. It seems that the Deputy Director of the BRA, a Mr. Muhammed Ali-Salaam, a former official at Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam and member of the ISB, traveled to the Middle East in search of more money for the mosque project. Shortly thereafter, the ISB coincidentally shovels a check for $10,000 to Roxbury Community College. The story appears on the front page of the Boston Globe on March 4th. In the meantime the ISB has fired off a shotgun defamation lawsuit at the hounds nipping at its feet naming The David Project, a Boston based group that seeks to promote a fair and honest discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict, The Boston Herald, which first broke the story back in 2003, Steven Emerson, the intrepid Director of The Investigative Project, Fox News, Citizens for Peace and Tolerance and a number of individuals having the temerity to question the secret goings-on at the ISB. Oh yes, add to the plot the fact that one of the founders of the ISB, Abdul Rachman Alamoudi is doing a stretch in a federal prison for receiving cash from the Libyan mission to the United Nations, failing to disclose numerous trips to Libya and conspiring in a political assassination. He has also expressed his support for Hamas, along with Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.
Enter a former trustee of the ISB, Dr. Walid Fitaihi, proud author of an article in an Arabic language newspaper that labeled Jews "murderers of prophets" and claimed that Jews "would be punished for their oppression, murder and rape of the worshippers of Allah." Incidentally, Fitaihi was one of the co-signers of the alleged fraudulent land conveyance between the ISB and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Another icon and co-founder with Mr. Alamoudi of the ISB, Dr. Yusuf Abdullah al-Qaradawi, now based in Qatar, is another fervent supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah. As head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (parse that one if you dare) he bloviates non-stop on such tender topics as the best places to inflict physical punishment on one’s wife without leaving telltale marks and has given us gems such as his view of rape:
“To be absolved from guilt, the raped woman must have shown some sort of good conduct . . . Islam addresses women to maintain their modesty, as not to open the door for evil.”
With all this sunlight bursting through the shutters at the Mayor’s office and at the ISB, mirabile dictu – the ISB decides to suspend its lawsuit (but not to drop it). You’d think by now the ACLU would have registered something on its screen. But as far as their gaze extended, darkness was plainly visible.
How has Ms. Rose and the ACLU reacted to all this inconvenient news? Asked about it recently, she replied, “I don’t know about the issue and no one in this office is going to investigate it.” Jaw drop #2…Pressed further she added, “This is not on our radar screen.” Raising her voice, Ms. Rose was clearly annoyed at any question dealing with the case and again terminated the conversation.
Jeremy Gunn, ACLU’s National Director of the stealthily named, “Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief”, was not aware of the ISB issue, but promised to “put it on his radar screen.” Don’t hold your electrons.
Remember the old saw about who’s a conservative? A liberal who’s been mugged. The ACLU could be the first case of a self-inflicted mugging.
And all the while, the mosque rises ever higher against the Boston skyline.
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