Monday, August 16, 2010

Islamic Center Remains At Center Stage

We discussed the planned Islamic Center for Lower Manhattan previously, and we return to it as President Obama and the Republican Party have unwittingly collaborated to legitimize the Islamic Center controversy as a national discussion topic. Also, we noticed (but were not surprised) that the New York Post is confused about Black entrepreneurs - perhaps the New York Post would say that all Black entrepreneurs look alike.

Obama Weighs In

President Obama decided to discuss his views with regard to the Islamic Center planned for Lower Manhattan, and his remarks left us more confused than enthused.

On Friday of last week, President Obama said that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. Mayor Bloomberg and other New York leaders cheered the support from the President for religious tolerance and interpreted his remarks as a bold declaration of support for the Islamic Center planned for Lower Manhattan.

However, the President clarified his remarks to indicate that he was not commenting on the wisdom of the project but simply endorsing freedom of religion.

The Republican Party has seized on the President's remarks about the Islamic Center to suggest that he is out-of-touch with America.

Let us hope that the President supports more than simple freedom of religion. He needs to support Manhattan as it leads our country to a better relationship with people of faith and people whose faith is Islam.

Manhattan Welcomes the Islamic Center

As we have stated:

"Manhattan NEEDS a mosque at Ground Zero. Manhattan needs to rededicate itself to embracing all faiths, finding ways to love each other's differences, and building bridges of understanding between different groups of people and among people from different parts of the world.

We need to learn to embrace (rather than simply tolerate) our brothers and sisters whose life experiences, beliefs, and values differ from ours. Anyone who comes to Manhattan to establish a peaceful community center is trying to make Manhattan better."

The New York Post Confuses Its Black Entrepreneurs

Yesterday, the New York Post attacked Desiree Rogers, the former White House social secretary for joining forces with Obama critic and BET founder Bob Johnson. But, Ms. Rogers accepted a position as CEO of Johnson Publishing, which has no connection to Bob Johnson.

Johnson Publishing, the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, was founded in 1942 by John H. Johnson and his wife Eunice W. Johnson. Their daughter, Linda Johnson Rice, will move from the CEO role to the Chairman role as Ms. Rogers takes the CEO position.

Bob Johnson is not John H. Johnson (who passed away in 2005). Bob Johnson was born four years after Johnson Publishing was founded. By the time Bob Johnson got to high school, Ebony magazine was a must-read in nearly every Black household in the United States. The New York Post was correct that Bob Johnson is alive and leads several businesses; Ebony and Jet happen not to be within the Bob Johnson empire.

The New York Post should apologize to Ms. Rogers, the family of John H. Johnson, Bob Johnson, and all of the rest of us for its wrong-headed and silly attack on Ms. Rogers and for its disgusting ignorance of the difference between two of the most respected Black entrepreneurs in history.

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