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Fine Line Between Tolerance and Hate

By Amy Hart in News on Mar 3, 2006 11:40PM

2006_03_cdhc.jpgGovernor Blagojevich’s rising political fortunes may take quite a hit as the controversy regarding his appointment of a Nation of Islam higher-up to his Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes (CDHC) rages on.

Blago appointed Claudette Marie Johnson, the minister of protocol for the Nation of Islam, to the CDHC with last August. Little attention was given to the appointment until late last month when Johnson, also known as Sister Claudette Muhammad, invited other members of the commission to a speech being delivered by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. At that point Lonnie Nasatir, a member of the commission as well as the Chicago regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, publicly expressed concerns about a member of the Nation of Islam serving on the CDHC since Farrakhan frequently spouts the hate speech the commission is trying to stop.

Under mounting pressure, Johnson said she will not step down from the CDHC, and Blago is standing by her, although he wasn’t even aware of her affiliation with Farrakhan when he appointed her.

Yesterday Nasatir, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center's Richard Hirschhaut, and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago’s Howard Kaplan stepped down from the CDHC out of protest. Then Blago appointed State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie) to serve on the commission, but Lang has already stepped down as well. Meanwhile the Republicans have a new reason to go after the governor.

Some local politicians are criticizing those who have criticized Johnson, saying doing so shows their own intolerance. But Farrakhan doesn't seem too tolerant of others, especially Jews and homosexuals, and Johnson has not condemned his words. So just how tolerant of intolerance should we be?