Ryan Karben isn’t burning a cross or championing the Ku Klux Klan, but he might as well be. Today’s racists and bigots, like Karben, don’t have to cover their faces with a pointed white hood when they assault the freedoms and rights of Americans with whom they disagree.
Karben is a New York Assemblyman. He has launched a vicious, racist, and anti-Semitic-like assault on a group of Christian and Muslim Palestinians who have organized a cultural display in his district.
The "Made in Palestine Art Exhibit" is being organized by Palestinian and Arab Americans in his district to showcase arts, music and poetry that includes some exhibit pieces critical of a foreign country, Israel.
That is what Karben seems most concerned about. In many places, Americans are allowed to criticize foreign countries, except when that foreign country is Israel.
Karben’s attack is racist and veiled in disgusting but common form of demagoguery based on a vicious hatred of Christians and Muslims who have political differences with Israel.
His attack against the art exhibit is a clear violation of the existing Hate Crimes laws and he should be prosecuted. But this is the "new America" where racists and bigots can express themselves freely if they hide behind popular political views and distort issues using the deplorable tactic of "the big lie."
Karben is much like Daniel Pipes, the David Duke of the anti-Arab community who uses his position as a member of the U.S. Peace Institute to bully Christian and Muslims because they support justice and fairness in Palestine.
Karben also exploits his publicly held government position paid for by taxpayers and as a representative of the people of his district to bully those with whom he disagrees.
Karben claims are ridiculous. He asserts the Palestinian American exhibit is "anti-Semitic," promotes terrorism and glorifies "Nazism." Yet these are exactly the fundamentals of Karben’s own vicious defamation.
In preparing for the show, the organizers published a statement describing what they hoped to achieve:
"The exhibit will run for four weeks and feature approximately 30 artists of Palestinian origin from well-known artists to emerging new talents. Our aim is to illuminate the face of Palestinian culture from the 1960s to the present day, and to establish a bridge between the Williamsburg and Palestinian communities through the universal language of art. In conjunction with the exhibit, we plan to host a series of lectures and cultural activities, including live music, poetry, calligraphy, Palestinian cuisine, a slide show on Palestinian history and much more."
The exhibit begins Saturday, November 20 from 5-10pm at the Westchester County Center at 198 Central Avenue, White Plains, NY. The $16 tickets are available through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com.
Karben’s America is an America that glorifies the principles advocated by the Klan, skinheads, neo-Nazis and White Supremicists. In Karben’s facist world, there is no room for cultural expression, let alone freedom.
Karben’s strongest argument is that among their supporters are organizations that have criticized Israel. And he has a right to criticize the critics, but not to impose his racist standards on the public, or to defame Americans who are entitled to American constitutional protections.
Karben’s viciousness is not only insulting to Christian and Muslim Palestinians, but is also insulting to American Jews who advocate for a non-violent end to the Middle East conflict.
If Americans really believe in principles of equal protection under the law and are truly dedicated to the eradication of hate, then people like Karben who promote hate and who disguise their embrace of violence with repugnant rhetoric should be prosecuted rather than elected to office.
American Jews who support peace and an end to the Middle East conflict, who oppose violence and who are shocked at anti-Semitism should join in denouncing Karben’s detestable actions.
In the true America, we can disagree without being disagreeable. But there can be no room for anti-Semites, facists and haters like Ryan Karben. They need to be identified and evicted from their places of leadership.
As long as Karben is allowed a platform to spew his hateful rhetoric, the forces of anti-Semitism, racism, prejudice, bigotry and discrimination will find comfort and strength to hate even more.
In that world, the freedoms of Christians, Muslims and Jews, Palestinians, Israelis and other Americans will constantly be threatened.
It’s a world of freedom, liberty, respect and non-violence is the world that Ryan Karben most threatens.
Americans who fail to speak out against Karben’s racist excesses undermine the very noble principles that make this nation so great.