Democrat Senator Ray Lesniak got New Jersey Republicans to take an anti-Trump stance in an attempt to mar the Electoral Vote victory of Republican President-Elect Donald Trump. Lesniak takes credit for coming up with something called "The Pledge to Stand Up for the Other." The idea behind this pledge is that we all inhabit boxes in which we interact exclusively with "people like us."
A little further research revealed that this pledge is actually the work of a group of individuals who the Bergen Record describe as Muslims, although non-Muslims, such as Senator Lesniak, are involved as well. The impetus is clear from the Record's story (November 23, 2016):
" Many have publicly and privately shown support for Muslims amid anxiety about the intentions of a Trump administration... James Sues, leader of a Muslim civil rights group in New Jersey, received nearly 20 emails in the week after Donald Trump's election, each asking: How can I help?"
" As Muslim Americans ponder the consequences of a Trump presidency, they’re finding momentum within their communities to organize and protect their rights."
"At first, many Muslims questioned whether Trump would carry out promises for proposals such as banning Muslim immigration or asking them to register with the government as a faith group, Sues said.
They grew even more concerned amid news reports that high-level appointees would include retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who has called Islam a cancer, and Stephen Bannon, a man who ran a media outlet seen as a platform for anti-Muslim commentary. Meanwhile, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Trump adviser, said he was drafting a proposal for a Muslim registry program that Trump talked about in his campaign."
"...Trump was casting suspicion on Muslims – something she feared would influence Americans. She said she felt nervous walking at the mall in her hijab, a Muslim headscarf, in the days after the election. 'I felt like everyone's eyes were on me,' she said."
"In a rally on the Statehouse steps a week ago, around 35 people from different faith groups and community groups called for inclusiveness and safety for all, including Muslims. Participants included the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, who leads the Reformed Church of Highland Park and is running for governor on the Green Party ticket. He said he would also register as a Muslim if a registry took place.
Mohammad Ali Chaudry, an organizer for a coalition of 150 Muslim groups across New Jersey, said he’s gotten strong support for his 'I Stand With the Other' pledge, which asks people to denounce hate and bigotry when they see or hear it. He created the pledge as an initiative of the New Jersey Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee. Clergy, students and elected officials are among those who have signed, with interest growing after the election.
...Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, signed the pledge and has asked for Senate lawmakers to say the pledge in unison at their Dec. 15 meeting."
We all know who Ray Lesniak is. He is the king of pay-to-play. Time and time again, he has adopted the morals of the legal profession, wantonly confusing "legal" with "ethical." As Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, told the New York Times: "He (Lesniak) was really the first legislator to put all three together -- power, politics and pay-to-play."
Lesniak vigorously practiced pay to play until it was outlawed -- as if it takes a law to tell a man what is right and what is wrong. By that rule, Senator Lesniak would have vigorously supported slavery in the 1850's. It shouldn't take a law to make a man behave. Those things come from within.
And who is Mohammad Ali Chaudry, who claims that it is his pledge? He runs The Islamic Society in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. The group is suing a local planning board for denying it permission to build a mosque on a 4 acre site. Chaudry got the Obama Justice Department in on the act and they sued the town as well.
Then the town cited a conflict of interest between Chaudry and one of the top officials in the Obama Justice Department. It's a real mess that is costing property taxpayers dearly.
Reporter Dave Hutchinson of the Star-Ledger has been covering this story and he filed this the same day the Record story about the pledge was published: http://www.nj.com/somerset/index.ssf/2016/11/town_that_denied_mosque_accuses_doj_of_conflict_of.html
The pledge's "background" statement reads: "Racial bigotry, religious persecution, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or any other form of hatred cannot be wiped out unless each and every one of us confronts it within ourselves, our own circles of family, friends and others that we interact with. Silence is seen as consent. It takes courage to stand up for the other. It is important to prevent bigoted speech coming from public officials, but it is even more critical to focus on our own individual responsibility to prevent bigotry we may see around us. By taking this pledge, each one us can make a profound difference in the world."
The language used here is worrisome. "Wiping out" a belief system because it is deemed "hateful" is at the root of the aforementioned "Islamophobia" and Lesniak himself is widely read enough to know that the NSDAP (National Socialist Party) painted itself the victim of hate before launching the Holocaust and a World War. We would direct Senator Lesniak to read some of Dr. Goebbels' pronouncements on the hatefulness of the Poles towards their German minority and the Reich Minister of Propaganda's stated goal to "wipe out" said hatred.
It should be of even more concern that Lesniak's pledge conflates "silence" with "consent," demanding proactive speech. This is a very fascist prescription. Will Lesniak adopt the North Korean model -- jailing those who don't express the "right" point of view with sufficient vigor?
In short, Senator Lesniak's pledge not only shackles speech (even comedy) but it prescribes corrective speech, while it allows a giant loophole to hate Republican Donald Trump and his supporters while feeling good about it. That isn't helping the cause of human respect and understanding.
Too bad so many Republican legislators allowed themselves to be duped.