American Atheists were going to give the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn a very nice atheist billboard. Dave Silverman says they get emails from atheists there who feel very alone; AA wanted to let them know they’re not alone.
Silverman was at the site with the advertising company to erect the giant sign atop a residential building.
But landlord Kenny Stier refused to allow workers from the advertising company Clear Channel into the building, said Silverman. He told The Brooklyn Paper that he believes powerful rabbis in the largely ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish area persuaded Stier to block the billboard.
“It has been very disconcerting to see that the traditional victims of religious bigotry have become the purveyors of religious bigotry,” said Silverman, who was raised in the Jewish faith.
I’ve been reading Deborah Feldman’s Unorthodox; lots of religious bigotry there. Jesse Kornbluth reports that the Satmars (the branch of Hasid-ism [is that a word?] that Feldman was raised in, and left, and wrote a book about) have been needling him for writing a favorable review of the book. He also says they’ve been straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel.
What’s fascinating to me in all this is that the Satmars only want to engage on the smallest points:, like where Feldman went to school and the technicalities of her mother’s divorce, I’ve received not a word of protest about the conclusion of my review, which was, I thought, the most damning:
The real issue is sex. Not the act, but what it signifies — male control of women. That old story. We see it in far too many places; dehumanizing women is a key component of fundamentalist cults, from hardcore Muslims to certain Republicans.
Men who oppress women — they say they love them, but it seems more like they fear and hate them — haven’t been taught that sex is our reward for making it through the day. Like their women, these men have been sold the idea that sex is just for procreation. No wonder they feel like they’re the ones who are oppressed.
There are claims in this book that Hasids have disputed. I can’t tell what’s true. But I’m sure of one thing: Men who can’t live equally with women aren’t worth living with.
Why didn’t the Satmars take me on about the blatant sexism that oppresses both women and men in their community?
Because what could they say?