Bigotry in all the Wrong Places?

You may be surprised by who said this last week at a hearing of the Oregon House Education Committee (brace yourself):

“About every other year a new private school opens in Oregon,” GUESS WHO testified. Christian parents “have created those private Christian schools largely because they feel that the public school system is hostile to their religious beliefs. Those parents and people like them are going to feel even more so if their first-graders were being taught by Muslim women in burkas and Sikh teachers in turbans… I look forward to the day when the orthodox Jewish parent welcomes the fact that his 6-year-old daughter is going to be a captive audience in the Muslim teacher’s or the Wiccan teacher’s classroom for 180 days a year.”

Whoah! If one were to substitute the words “Black” or “Jewish” for “Muslim” and “Sikh” in GUESS WHO’S testimony, his comments would have been subject to widespread and immediate condemnation.

According to the Oregonian, Education Committee Chairwoman Sara Gelser responded to the testimony by stating that she would be “alarmed if [her] children were frightened to meet a Muslim woman in a classroom.”

So who spoke these words at a public hearing? Was it some out-of-touch bigot, stuck in the past?

No, it was none other than Charles Hinkle, a self-described “civil rights” attorney who according to the ACLU of Oregon has volunteered “thousands’ of hours to the organization as a volunteer.

To be fair, the ACLU of Oregon in an e-mail to us this morning stated that Mr. Hinkle was testifying on his own behalf. Nevertheless, this is a man who has partnered with the ACLU of Oregon for more than a decade to oppose any change to the 87-year-old law that makes public schools the only place that Sikhs are prohibited from working in Oregon.

We know that the ACLU is a stalwart leader of the fight for civil rights and civil liberties and for that we are truly grateful. Nevertheless, the very close association between Mr. Hinkle and the ACLU of Oregon taints both the ACLU of Oregon and the ACLU nationally.

We have suggested to the ACLU of Oregon that they distance themselves publicly from Mr. Hinkle’s comments. There should be no question in the public’s mind as to whether the ACLU of Oregon condones through its silence the reprehensible comments of its stalwart ally.

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