The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission endorses a complaint by Debbie Almontaser that New York City pressed her to resign because of bias against her Arab national origin, Muslim religion, and "race". She had been the newly appointed principal of the new, public, Khalil Gibran International Academy that the Mayor and Chancellor had initiated. She may get reinstated, back pay, damages, and legal fees. The court gave the two parties time to work this out. Municipal counsel refuses to reinstate her.
Formerly a teacher, Almontaser was opposed for having what was seen as a Radical Muslim bias. She reputedly was moderate.
One of the culminating accusations was her apparent defense of a student's tee-shirt declaring "Intifada NYC." She was on the board of the organization that rented space to the distributors of the tee-shirts, but disclaimed advance knowledge of the shirts. She explained that "Intifada" means shaking off, but came to mean something else by the Palestinian Arabs. The news account did not specify what "else." The commission found that the New York Post elaborated upon her remarks misleadingly (Andrea Elliot, NY Times, 3/13, A1).
I remember the case as much more complicated and confused than that.
Mayor Bloomberg was criticized as naïve for opening a school to specialize in teaching about Islam, that would be run by non-vetted Muslims more likely to abuse their position to insinuate Muslim values and views than to explain objectively the history and cultures of Islam. New Yorkers feared it would be a radical madrassah.
Almontaser was called moderate, but many Radicals pose as moderate. They get away with that pose because of Americans' inability or politically correct fear to assess this. This American handicap reaches as high as the CIA, FBI, U.S. Army, the prisons, and the President. Radical Muslim leaders have been invited to the White House, asked for advice on how to deal with Radical Islam, allowed to steer prisoners to radical violence, and retained in the military until they attacked fellow soldiers.
Perhaps the New York Post misstated her words, but I had read the NY Times during the controversy. Almontaser failed to condemn the tee-shirt for advocating Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews, the practical meaning of "Intifada." She either made radical statements or associated with radicals. She seemed to be a poor choice for principal.
The issue was complicated by parents mustering irrelevant arguments into their case against her. They were concerned that the school would attract and encourage a dangerous element of Muslims against the other students.
Ironically, some confusion arose because of the very ignorance about Islam and the American inability to vet job applicants that her school was established to address.
This inability is getting worse, if one considers the many biased teaching materials provided free by Saudi Arabia and curricula that disparage Christianity but inculcate Muslim values and have students try Muslim practices. Instead of a special school, we need a widespread, scholarly course on the political thinking of Islam and its effect upon us. General students need that more than they need details on the Holocaust, for which a few pages of explanation would suffice. We need to find the proper balance between knowledge of history, which has dried up, and knowledge of current movements, which is watered down.