If you haven't heard of Kansas' Westboro Baptist Church, prepared to be sickened. The church sent a few of its members into Manhattan yesterday, primarily to protest Jews for their general support of the GLBT community (I for one, am one of those Jews). The protests started early in the morning and even though I knew it was happening beforehand, I personally felt like getting a couple extra hours of sleep since I get next to nothing during the week. As I expected, for every Phelps-loving hater of humanity, there were more than ten that opposed them. The synagogue happened to be around the corner from Council District 3 challenger Yetta Kurland, and she had an excellent response to the anti-semitism that these misguided souls brought with them.
Now the community response on the streets was fantastic, but what I loved most was that it raised money for the synagogue, to the tune of $10,000:
Leaders of the synagogue, which is currently using rented space in the West Village, asked supporters to pledge a dollar or more for every minute that the six bigoted bumpkins protested outside. After almost an hour, they raised $10,000, thanks to the Westboro Baptist Church protesters, who were vastly outnumbered yesterday by a counter-demonstration of some 150 synagogue supporters. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum tells the Daily News, "The synagogue wants a building so we're hoping this will help us get a building. We're not intimidated by them. We're joining together today to show that we ... simply reject their language, their violence, and we won't be scared away by them."Not only am I grateful for the fundraising the synagogue pulled off, I am ecstatic that it countered what Phelps is ultimately up to. I believe that Phelps may or may not believe what he encourages his followers to do, but the real motivation is to profit monetarily from that hate. Getting press at military funerals and yes, this synagogue is what Phelps wants, but if it can also raise money for those that have good intentions, then so much the better. Phelps is going to continue on hating and the media will cover him from time to time. So what everyone else should do is to beat him at his own game.