08/09/2010 04:23 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

After Zakaria, What About Other ADL Humphrey Prize Recipients?

hhh_award.jpgFareed Zakaria's dramatic rebuke of the Anti-Defamation League for opposing a mosque at the Ground Zero construction site replacing the 9-11 destroyed World Trade Center in New York raises obvious questions about who else has been honored by the ADL and how these recipients feel about the high profile controversy.

As he explains in his commentary below, Zakaria is not just hitting ADL on the head but rather returning the Humphrey Medal and $10,000 prize as an effort to encourage the organization to regain its credibility by recognizing that it made a mistake. This is a principled move by Zakaria and holds open the hope that ADL will pivot back towards the ethical track it has long been on.

I don't necessarily believe in follow-the-leader behavior and don't know if other recipients of the Humphrey Medal would be in the same position as Zakaria to easily return a large cash prize years after the fact. But knowing how other recipients feel about the ADL controversy and the Cordoba mosque could be instructive and important.

If Zakaria has stated "I cannot in good conscience keep the ADL's 1st Amendment award," are other ADL award recipients struggling with this as well. Alternatively, do they think Zakaria is off base in emphasizing this mosque controversy given the enormous good that the Anti-Defamation League has done for others, including for Muslims, over the years?

The roster of medal recipients includes a number of friends and associates of mine -- and while I respect that these individuals may not see this controversy as theirs to engage and also respect that these kinds of issues are ones of personal conscience, I plan to ask some of these folks how they feel. I have no idea whether they will respond -- and don't know if they will respond for the record.

That said, I plan to write a respectful letter to some of the following recipients and see if they would be willing to share their views. Other journalists, bloggers, or commentators may wish to reach out to those whom they know.

ADL Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize Award Recipients:

2009 - Nat Hentoff
2009 - Clarence Page
2008 - Tim Rutten
2007 - Jon E. Meacham
2006 - Charles Krauthammer
2005 - Fareed Zakaria
2003 - Floyd Abrams
2003 - Bernard Lewis
2003 - Daniel Pearl (posthumously)
2002 - Bob Schieffer
2001 - Bernard Shaw
2000 - Wolf Blitzer
1999 - Lesley Stahl
1999 - Marvin Kalb
1998 - Arthur Miller
1998 - Meet The Press
1997 - Dr. Seuss (Posthumously)
1997 - C-SPAN
1997 - Ranan Lurie
1996 - Dan Rather
1996 - Mortimer Zuckerman
1995 - Larry King
1994 - Charles Kuralt
1993 - David Kaplan (posthumously) and CNN
1992 - Bill Moyers
1991 - The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
1990 - Martin Peretz
1990 - A.M. Rosenthal
1989 - George F. Will
1988 - Fred W. Friendly
1987 - William Safire
1986 - This Week with David Brinkley
1985 - The Wall Street Journal
1983 - Dial Torgerson (Posthumously)
1982 - Max M. Kampelman and the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
1981 - Dore Schary (Posthumously)
1979 - Jacobo Timerman
1978 - John Chancellor, Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters
1977 - Hubert H. Humphrey

As I wrote the other day, I found Zakaria's gesture high risk for him and commendable. I realize that others disagree and have been interested in some of the comments made here and elsewhere that have taken a different view.

But to reinforce Zakaria's point, I believe that the U.S. still tends to treat Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans with caution, almost as second class citizens when it comes to government jobs, government procurement, border and security profiling, and more.

We need to turn this around.

-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note. Clemons can be followed on Twitter @SCClemons