Americans fear a terror attack - but we love our country more. That is why we need to take a stand against the anti-Muslim scapegoating that followed the tragic shooting rampage in San Bernardino.
Everyone has fear. Fear of danger, fear of failure, fear of success. Being a grownup means being able to manage your fear. Being a political leader is being able to channel your fear into something constructive -- to address the root causes, profile behaviors not people, and to act with compassion and conviction. Being a leader is NOT regressing to prejudice and discrimination and taking others with you to that miserable place. Being a leader is NOT attacking the faith of 1.6 billion people for the miserable acts of terrorists who hijacked Islam for their own evil ends. And being a President of the United States is NOT vilifying your Muslim American countrymen and women!
Alas this 2016 Republican presidential campaign is a textbook case of choosing fear -- with proposals denying Muslim refugees entry to the US, banning Muslims from coming to America, creating a Muslim registry and more echoes of the darkest nativist impulses. Either the leading Republican candidates for president have given into fear -- or are not afraid but cynically use public fear to their own political purposes. Donald Trump isn't "afraid" -- but that won't stop him from demagoging Muslims to people who fear the ISIL terrorists.
Now if this 2016 reality show rhetoric was just political hyperbole without real-life consequences we could afford to let it go -- but it isn't and we can't. When the candidates for President of the United States knowingly conflate the fear of terrorism and the scapegoating of Muslims, people suffer real-life consequences. Not since the immediate aftermath of 9/11 have we seen such direct hate speech and crimes against Muslim Americans. Vile personal attacks on President Obama who has been "insulted" for years by being called as Muslim - as if there were anything wrong with that - were amplified by right wing voices; a death threat to a U.S. Congressman; beatings of Muslims; threats and arson at mosques. Fear of an attack by Muslims turned into actual attacks against Muslims is unacceptable!
We cannot be silent -- we are better than this.
That is why we need to take a stand. As our President said today in the Weekly Address, anti-Muslim discrimination "helps ISIL and undermines our national security."
My DNC colleagues will take a stand today at the Democratic National Committee meeting in Charleston, SC -- home of the tragic anti-black domestic terror attack that killed the Emmanuel Nine as they sat in Bible study. My colleagues Donna Brazile, James Zogby, and I wrote a resolution because we want Democrats to formally take a stand and condemn anti-Muslim rhetoric in the 2016 presidential campaign as well as the vicious attacks against our President and our Muslim American community:
DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE RESOLUTION CONDEMNING THE ANTI-MUSLIM RHETORIC OF THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
Charleston, South Carolina, December 12, 2015
Authored by Donna Brazile, Christine Pelosi, and James Zogby
WHEREAS, our nation was founded on the principle of freedom of religion and the Constitution has guaranteed the protection of that freedom since its ratification and through Amendments that have helped perfect our Union; and
WHEREAS, our nation's diversity has strengthened our country, and has enabled us to lead the rest of the world by example; and
WHEREAS, shameful proposals to ban Muslims, or the members of any particular religion, from entering the United States not only undermine our values as a country, but also damage America's image among even our closest allies; and
WHEREAS, Muslims have been the biggest victims of terrorist organizations like ISIL, and are our vital allies at home and abroad in preventing attacks, identifying radicalization, and disrupting and defeating terrorist organizations; and
WHEREAS, Muslim-Americans have served honorably alongside Americans of every faith and every background throughout our nation's history, with many paying the ultimate sacrifice for our country; and
WHEREAS, Muslim-Americans serve in government, business, academia and every sector of American life; and
WHEREAS, we are horrified by death threats against Muslim-Americans - including one against a U.S. Congressman; sickened by the vile personal attacks that denigrate Islam by attempting to use it to infer that President Obama is not a Christian and suggest it would make him somehow less fit for office; and outraged by the scapegoating against Muslims and other communities of color that are leading to acts of violence and intimidation against these communities; and
WHEREAS, the rhetoric from across the Republican field of 2016 presidential candidates has incited disturbing levels of fear mongering and demagoguery against racial, ethnic, and religious minority communities;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) condemns in the strongest possible terms the divisive and corrosive anti-Muslim rhetoric in the 2016 presidential campaign, such as calls to exclude immigrants and refugees on the basis of religion, establish databases of Muslim-American citizens, or engage in the blanket surveillance and closings of mosques; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the DNC urges all candidates in the 2016 presidential election to strongly condemn any violence or incitement to violence, and that all candidates should acknowledge that as political leaders they have a responsibility to denounce such acts; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the DNC urges all candidates in the 2016 presidential race to strongly condemn the scapegoating of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, to reaffirm our commitment to protect religious freedom under the Constitution and to embrace the diversity of our nation as its strength; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we agree with President Barack Obama who said that "our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others, regardless of what they look like, or where they come from, or what their last name is, or what faith they practice;" that is what makes us Americans.
I urge you to join us: use your voice to speak out against anti-Muslim prejudice and discrimination - and for the values of religious liberty and equality that make our country great. Organize your own statement or resolution or petition; elevate your voice in this conversation; support President Obama, Congressman Carson, and all our leaders who stand up for our Constitution, for our Muslim communities, and for our country.
We have a chance to choose hope over fear. For our Muslim brothers and sisters' sake, for our American family's sake, for our nation's sake, let us choose wisely.