The Historic District Commission of Litchfield, CT has–on grounds that many consider as pretty questionable–rejected the application of the Chabad Lubovitch group to renovate a historic house and turn it into a synagogue. The remodeled building was also to have included an apartment for the rabbi, and a swimming pool for the Chabad-sponsored summer camp. Story here.
I don’t know if the denial of this application is or is not consistent with the rules under with the Historic District Commission is supposed to be operating, but I do think that some of the comments reported to have been made during the discussions were pretty inappropriate and pretty disturbing.
Now, maybe I missed it, but I haven’t seen the speech in which President Obama defends the Litchfield synagogue in the same way that he defended the Ground Zero mosque. Nor have I seen Nancy Pelosi demanding an investigation of synagogue opponents in the same way that she demanded an investigation of GZ mosque opponents. And will the “human rights activists” and liberal clergymen who have been so fervent in their defense of the mosque project also step up to defend the Litchfield synagogue project? I think we all know the answer.
There are two principal reasons for the phenomenon that is on view here:
1)Neither Jews in general nor Chabadniks in particular are known for killing people and blowing things up. Hence, they can be offended or even disrespected with relative impunity.
2)More subtly: to many “progressives,” Chabadniks may perhaps be “other” enough to arouse a sense of dislike and unease–but are clearly not “other” enough to fall under the protective umbrella of multicultural exoticism.
Roger Scruton’s concept of Oikophobia, explicated at the link by James Taranto, helps in understanding many aspects of “progressive” belief and behavior.