No one should ever have taken this story seriously in the first place. But it fit the Left’s picture of reality so well, it couldn’t be resisted. The idea that there would be a second-grade teacher in any school in the country in 2022 who would feel free to rip off a Muslim student’s hijab simply doesn’t accord with the real world. But in the Left’s world, we’re not living in 2022 at all, or if we are, it is a nightmare version of 1955, with “white supremacists” running rampant, terrorizing defenseless People of Color whose just grievances are laughed at by rogue cops and racist judges. Women are forced to deny their true aspirations and resign themselves to lives of housework and children they can’t abort. “Hate” is a family value, with ethnic and religious minorities regularly subjected to incomprehension, abuse, ridicule, and worse.
If that world ever existed, it is long gone, but not as far as Leftist pundits and opinion-makers are concerned. And so Tamar Herman’s life was destroyed. Will this suit help her get her reputation back?
“Teacher at Center of Hijab Controversy Sues Olympic Medalist for Defamation,” by Tracey Tully, New York Times, October 18, 2022:
A seconds-long interaction in a New Jersey classroom unleashed a national firestorm last October as it ricocheted across social media platforms. A 7-year-old girl had come home from school upset, telling her mother that her teacher in Maplewood, New Jersey, had tried to pull off the hijab the girl wears as an observant Muslim.
Her mother recounted the story on Facebook, and Ibtihaj Muhammad, an Olympic medalist who fences in a hijab, immediately denounced it as abuse in an Instagram post that went viral. By the next day, Gov. Phil Murphy had weighed in on Twitter, and a statewide Islamic organization was calling for the teacher’s “immediate firing.”
One year later, the matter has landed in court. The family sued the school district and the teacher, Tamar Herman. And this month, the teacher filed a defamation suit in New Jersey’s Superior Court that accuses the Olympian and the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Rights and its director of causing “irreparable harm.”
Herman is also suing the school district, South Orange-Maplewood, in federal court, claiming it was complicit in what she called “relentless discriminatory treatment.”
“What started as a simple misunderstanding between plaintiff, who is Jewish, and one of her second-grade students, who is Muslim, was transformed into defendants’ complicity in a parade of outrageous, false, defamatory and antisemitic statements,” the federal lawsuit, which was filed a day before the state suit, states.
The incident roiled a community known for its liberal values, and tapped into a deep sense of anxiety among many Muslims, who make up roughly 3% of the state population and have faced an uptick in bias crime.
And even though many of the facts remained unclear, social media was quickly awash with angry opinions.
“The strong reaction from the local, state and national level is in large part a culmination of two decades of feeling targeted and vulnerable,” said Sahar Aziz, a Rutgers Law School professor and the author of a book about Islamophobia, “The Racial Muslim: When Racism Quashes Religious Freedom.”
The teacher said in the defamation lawsuit that she “brushed” back a hooded garment that was blocking the student’s eyes, believing that the girl was wearing her typical “form-fitting” hijab underneath. She said she immediately replaced the head covering and apologized to the girl once she realized her error.
In her state lawsuit, she claims that Muhammad, the fencer, and CAIR-NJ were “motivated by a combination of greed and a fierce desire to burnish their brands as fighters against Islamophobia,” and that her reputation was so damaged that she can never be hired by another public school district.
The legal papers also cite Murphy’s social media commentary, but he is not named as a defendant.
Filed on Oct. 5 in Union County Superior Court, the state suit also alleges that Herman is so afraid for her safety in the community where she taught for 20 years and also lived that she has had to permanently move out of her home.
“She’s been ostracized by her community,” said her lawyer, Erik Dykema….