Monday, February 20, 2006

Bosma Apologizes To Jewish Relations Committee Over Comments

The Howey Political Report is the first to report on a public apology House Speaker Brian Bosma made to members of the Indianapolis Jewish Relations Committee for comments he made to the group last week in the context of discussing his appeal of Judge David Hamilton's order barring the House from allowing Christian only prayers at the beginning of its business days. According to Howey, Bosma met with three members of the group, including Henry Efromyson, Doug Rose and Marcia Goldstar. Bosma told Howey:

I extended a sincere apology if my words were taken as disrespect," Bosma said. "They accepted my apology and understood what was implied was not my intepretation." Bosma said the quote, carried on blogsites The Daily Pulse and Advance Indiana was not correct. "We did have a discussion on populations," Bosma said. "But I did not say it that way. It was a misunderstanding entirely."

The quote Bosma said was incorrect was first reported on the Daily Pulse and originated from an e-mail Rabbi Jon Adland, who was in attendance at the meeting, had sent to a number of persons expressing his concern about the comment. The rabbi alleged Bosma made the following statement: "How many Jews are there in Indiana? About 2%? There are at least 80% Christians in Indiana."

Giving Bosma the benefit of the doubt that he did not say what the rabbi specifically alleged in his e-mail account of the meeting between Bosma and 40 Jews from around the state, then why did he issue an apology? If he didn't make reference to Jews being only 2% of the population compared to the 80% Christian in Indiana, then what exactly was the "discussion on populations" and why was that relevant to the pursuit of the right to have Christian only prayers in the Indiana House of Representatives? A later report by WISH-TV's Jim Shella below sheds more light on the origin of the 2% comment.

The important point is that Speaker Bosma did recognize that he made comments that some people found offensive, and that he did the right thing in quickly reacting to a potentially explosive issue by meeting in person with members of the offended group and apologizing to them. The real test of his sincerity, however, will be his understanding that by pushing a Christian only agenda as he has since becoming Speaker, his actions have the effect of making others feel excluded. His failure to understand that will most likely lead to more regrettable meetings like the one he had today with members of the Jewish community.

To the dismay of Bosma, the story on his big misstep doesn't end on the blogosphere where the report first surfaced. WISH-TV's Jim Shella has a story on the incident which led off this evening's news broacast. Shella says:

Speaker Bosma met with about 50 Jewish leaders last week and after the meeting a rabbi sent an email to his congregation. In it, Rabbi Jon Adland said, "Everything we believed about this country had just been trampled. For the first time in my life as a citizen of this country, I was scared."

The rabbi's e-mail is now the subject of several blogs including one that carries a cartoon showing Bosma blocking minorities from a gate labeled "freedom." It all stems from a discussion regarding prayer in the Indiana House where it was pointed out that two percent of the population is Jewish and 80 percent is Christian.

Bosma told Shella, "I asked the group what percentage of the population in Indiana for demographic purposes was of Jewish tradition and faith and it was them who provided me with the two percent." But again, what is the relevancy of his question? Tyranny by a majority is precisely what moved Rabbi Adland to write his e-mail of concern. Echoing this concern is Rep. David Orentlicher (D-Indianapolis), the only Jewish member of the House. Shella reported, "[Orentlicher echoed the rabbi's concern about what he calls the "tyranny of the majority. That we are a democracy where the majority prevails but we're also a constitutional democracy where the majority prevails but important rights have to be protected for even small minorities," he said.

Shella reported that Bosma wanted the group to understand that he values his ties to the Jewish community "and that they are very valued citizens and that anything that had said to cause them to think anything differently that I sincerely apologized for that and he accepted that."

A big hat tip to the Daily Pulse for first bringing this issue to the attention of the public.

CORRECTION: In an earlier post we identified Rep. David Orentlicher as a Republican. He is a Democrat. We apologize for the mistake.


Anonymous said...

any word about how Bosma feels about the 10% of Hoosiers that are fags or dykes? or don't they count either?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Given his pursuit of an anti-gay agenda during his tenure as Speaker, I think you and I already know the answer to that question anonymous.

Doug said...

It's not that he doesn't believe what he said or that he regrets saying it, just that he is sorry if anyone is offended by it.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Abdul is spinning for Bosma over at Indiana Barrister--making it out that we've accused Bosma of being anti-Semitic, and that the group had always been hostile to Bosma. Pretty pathetic attempt at brushing over the stain.

Anonymous said...

As a friend of Abdul, I have to disagree with what you've said. Shabazz isn't trying to brush over the matter, but sincerely believes that what Bosma said wasn't particularly anti-Semitic. Given that as Blacks, we have a pretty good idea of what bigotry is and isn't, Shabazz's argument isn't "pathetic." You do have a right to your assessment.

stAllio! said...

nice try rishawn, but no.

first off, who said bosma was anti-semitic? nobody did. that's a straw man argument. the real complaint is that bosma has no comprehension of equal protection under the constitution, and is endorsing christianity over minority religions.

and then there's this:

Given that as Blacks, we have a pretty good idea of what bigotry is and isn't...

sorry, but blacks (not even Blacks) are not the arbiters of discrimination. considering that many of the most vocal opponents of HRO and similar anti-discrimination laws are in fact black, clearly not all blacks care about or can even acknowledge all kinds of bigotry.

Anonymous said...

"Considering that many of the most vocal opponents of HRO and similar anti-discrimination laws are in fact black, clearly not all blacks care about or can even acknowledge all kinds of bigotry."

Which is true; Blacks can be bigots too. But Blacks, considering that we're far more subjected to bigotry than everyone but Jews, we can comment on the matter with far more experience.

As for the anti-semitic comment? No one has said it explicitly, but it has been implied both Welsh in his earlier post, especially in arguing that "[Bosma] already demonstrated his legislative zeal in making sure that gays and lesbians are treated in this state as second class citizens. Now others are rightfully wondering if their rights are safe as well." Welsh also implied it in a later post when he noted another blog's comments on "Bosma's recent 2% solution comment."

Not to knock Gary, whose commentary I generally respect and often applaud, but if he wasn't accusing Bosma of anti-Semitism, then he should have spelled it out plainly and clearly. He didn't and thus, whether without any deliberation on his part or not, implied as such. Calling the comment "the 2 percent solution," in light of history (remember the Final Solution) and one is left with little choice but to think Bosma is being called a bigot.

The same can be said for Honig over at the Daily Pulse, who keeps calling the incident the 2-percent solution. Whether or not he's deliberately making such an implication, he is doing so, stallio, and thus shouldn't complain when others note it.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Let's agree on one thing. Bosma made a mistake by making inappropriate comments to a minority group on a sensitive issue concerning religious freedom, and he admitted to that mistake as evidenced by his public apology. I never accused him of being anti-semitic, and Bosma did not indicate in his public apology that he thought he was being accused of being anti-semitic. He was accused of being insensitive to the rights of a minority religious group. His appetite for pursing anti-gay legislation is an entirely different matter. I fully admit to labeling him a bigot when it comes to gays. He is very proud of his support of legislation to make gays second class citizens. Religous minority groups are similarly offended by the manner in which he wears his Christian beliefs on his sleeves and forces them on other views. At a certain point, these two issues meet--since he bases his public actions on his personal religious beliefs- but it's not to say that he is anti-semitic.

dhonig said...

Honig here, and I'll defend myself. if you follow the link to The Daily Pulse, you'll see that the "2% Solution" language was a quote from the original letter from the Rabbi, not my spin on the situation.

As for anti-semitism, I responded on Abdul's site, and said there that the issue was minority protection, not anti-semitism. Also, if you go to my cartoon page, Hypnocrites, and look at the first 'toon, you'll get a pretty clear idea of my thoughts on the matter.

dhonig said...

On another note, Bosma has a challenger, Susan Fuldauer. if you want to help, here is her information:

Committee to Elect Susan Fuldauer, 6284 Rucker Rd., Suite A, Indpls., IN 46220

Vote Susan should be up and running and have some additional methods for contribution working by next week.