Wednesday, July 05, 2006

 

The Politics of Personal Intimidation

We are, slowly yet surely, slipping back to the Dark Ages.

The Dobrich family of Indian River, Delaware, felt like their children were being excluded in school for a very simple reason: they were Jewish. According to the Dobriches, the school board- and keep in mind that this is a public school system- focused strictly on a Christian point of view. Students who were part of the school's Bible club got special privileges, Bibles were distributed to students, prayer was common at sporting events, and often teachers would talk about Christianity at the exclusion of other religions. And when the family actually spoke up and threatened legal action-- well, it got worse:

The district board announced the formation of a committee to develop a religion policy. And the local talk radio station inflamed the issue.

On the evening in August 2004 when the board was to announce its new policy, hundreds of people turned out for the meeitng. The Dobrich family and Jane Doe felt intimidated and asked a state trooper to escort them.

The complaint recounts a raucous crowd that applauded the board's opening prayer and then, when sixth-grader Alexander Dobrich stood up to read a statement, yelled at him "take your yarmulke off!" His statement, read by Samantha, confided "I feel bad when kids in my class call me Jew boy."

A state representative spoke in support of prayer and warned board members that "the people" would replace them if they faltered on the issue. Other representatives spoke against separating "god and state."

A former board member suggested that Mona Dobrich might "disappear" like Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the atheist whose Supreme Court case resulted in ending organized school prayer. She disappeared in 1995 and her dismembered body was found six years later.

The crowd booed an ACLU speaker and told her to "go back up north."

In the days after the meeting the community poured venom on the Dobriches. Callers to the local radio station said the family they should convert or leave the area. Someone called them and said the Ku Klux Klan was nearby.


The Dobriches finally had to move away after Nedd Karieva of the Stop the ACLU Coalition published their address for all to see. Here's Nedd's take on his little ploy:

Pogrom? I'm not sure I want to call it that. That is not an appropriate term, however, I am pleased that we had an effect in this case. We have others we want to put up on the site to shame them but have not gotten around to it. And I'm not so sure I can take credit for it. However, if an ACLU speaker was booed, that's music to my ears.

I would appreciate it if you would sign your actual name rather than JC Christian.

Regards,

Nedd Kareiva
Director


Translation: "Boy, we sure showed that Jew boy, didn't we? And we'll show anyone else who dares worship anyone but our Lord and Savior. After all, that's what He would have done."

I keep telling myself that this is the 21st century, a time of enlightenment, and that this is America, a land of religious freedom. And yet, I keep seeing all this evidence to the contrary.

Comments:
This is just insane. Fucking insane.
 
Since I have criticized Nedd Kareiva extensively, I think it would only be fair to offer a couple of words in his defense...

Jesus General appears to have been mistaken in assigning any responsible to Nedd Kareiva for the family having to leave the community. Local Christians took care of that long before Kareiva posted their contact information. However, Kareiva didn’t object to JC’s assertion and, in the apparent belief that JC’s statement was true, expressed pleasure and satisfaction for having played a role in this. So it appears that he can’t be criticized for chasing the family out, but he doesn’t get off the hook completely because he thought it was good that they were chased out and happy to think he helped. An ethical, virtuous person would have responded very differently.

Also, I don’t think that Nedd Kareiva is anti-Semitic. I haven’t seen anything from his criticizing this family’s Judaism. On the contrary, he actually attacks them for wanting to “impose their atheism” on the community. Clearly, he thought that the family was an atheist family, not a Jewish family — or he was lying here in order to portray the family as worse. Either way, he should be accused of anti-atheist bigotry rather than anti-Semitic or racial bigotry.
 
I have to agree with you, Austin. I was a bit harsh about Kareiva (yes, look, I'm apologizing. You get it every so often.). I've found out that the family did indeed move before Kareiva blasted their info all over the blogosphere. Which is a bit of a relief, seeing as the family won't suffer any more harassment than they probably have already over that little move (of course, if the John Loftus incident taught us anything, it's that someone will likely be at the end of that misplaced aggression).

Still, I do find Kareiva's choice of tactics suspicious. No, not suspicious-- fucking uncivilized. As Glenn Greenwald points out, these are the same tactics that pro-life terrorist groups used to intimidate abortion doctors-- and now they've found grounding on relatively mainstream blogs. I mean, at some point it stops being a slippery slope and turns into a fucking waterslide.
 
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