Why I Oppose Anti-Muslim Hate -- as an Asian American and with Every Part of my Identity

On December 16, 2015, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans held a rally to declare that opposing anti-Muslim hate and xenophobia will be one of our highest priorities.

Many Asian American leaders spoke out to condemn anti-Muslim hate and to demonstrate that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders stand for and with our Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian American brothers and sisters, in part because we have been here before.

As I thought about what I would say, I realized that I oppose anti-Muslim hate not only as an Asian American, but really, with every part of my identity.

These are my remarks.

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Why are we here?

We are here to stand against anti-Muslim hate.

I've just heard it again, that this is an effort to be politically correct.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

Words matter. Bias and bullying matter.

There's no such thing as a micro aggression. These are major aggressions.

But I also think it's important to step back and look at the breadth and the range of attacks and hate--and the acts of violence and hate--that have been perpetrated against the Muslim American community over just the past month.

South Asian Americans Leading Together and Muslim Advocates have compiled some of these acts of violence. These aren't all of them, I'm sure, but these are the ones that have been publicly reported so far.

If you will bear with me, because there are 49 since just the Paris attacks last month, I think it is important to share them with you:

  • 11/13/15, San Diego, CA, A pregnant Muslim woman is attacked with her child in her stroller.

  • 11/14/15, Storrs, CT, Muslim student dorm room door vandalized with the words "killed Paris" underneath his name.
  • 11/14/15, St. Petersburg, FL, Two Islamic centers received voicemail threats to firebomb and shoot Muslims.
  • 11/15/15, Meriden, CT, An Islamic center is found riddled with bullets some penetrating through the entire building.
  • 11/16/15, Orlando, FL An American Muslim family finds bullet holes in their home including one bullet that penetrated the garage and entered a bedroom.
  • 11/16/15, Charlotte, NC, Uber driver beaten and threatened by passenger who thought he was Muslim.
  • 11/16/15, Norman, OK, A man calls 911 twice threatening to kill anyone who "looks like a Muslim" is then shot by police.
  • 11/16/15, Fort Bend, TX, A man posted images on social networks with an assault rifle and ammunition threatening to 'shoot up a mosque.'
  • 11/16/15, Pflugerville, TX, Islamic center was vandalized with feces and pages were torn from the Quran.
  • 11/16/15, Omaha, NE, An Islamic center is vandalized with symbols of Paris. This is the fourth time this mosque has been vandalized this year.
  • 11/16/15, Cincinnati, OH, Muslim with hijab shouted at and nearly run over; reports of another Muslim woman spat on and another woman assaulted in parking lot.
  • 11/18/15, Phoenix, AZ, Jon Ritzheimer, self-proclaimed leader of AZ Anti-Islam movement, posts a video threatening the writers at the Islamic Post with his weapon.
  • 11/19/15, Bronx, NY, A sixth grade Muslim schoolgirl is called ISIS, punched, and her headscarf is pulled off at school.
  • 11/19/15, San Diego, CA, A Muslim student at San Diego State University was pushed by a man who also pulled her by her headscarf while making hate-related comments and threats based on her religion.
  • 11/19/15, Corpus Christi, TX, A mosque receives hate mail stating, "Convert to Christianity Before It's Too Late."
  • 11/19/15, Falls Church, VA, A mosque finds a fake explosive device on their premises.
  • 11/20/15, Brooklyn, NY, Two Muslim women harassed by a U.S. postal worker who shouted obscenities and followed them into a store. Suspect also threatened to "burn your f*cking temple."
  • 11/20/15, San Antonio, TX, Man enters mosque shouts profanities and desecrates prayer rugs with shoes.
  • 11/24/15, Lubbock, TX, Mosque leaders of the Texas Tech student mosque discovered the main glass door had been shattered and light fixtures had been removed from the building. They have reportedly received additional threats since.
  • 11/25/15, Hudson County, NJ, A police officer is under investigation for posting a hate-filled rant against Muslims. He says, "Sh*t on the mosques, tear them all down" among other profanities.
  • 11/25/15, Irving, TX, Anti-Muslim group publishes names and addresses of American Muslim community members. The Facebook post claimed to list "Every Muslim and Muslim Sympathizer that stood up for sharia tribunals in Irving, TX."
  • 11/26/15, Pittsburgh, PA, An American Muslim taxi driver is shot at by a passenger. The passenger at drop off entered his home, and returned with a rifle and began to shoot at the car driving away, with one shot that struck the driver.
  • 11/27/15, Lexington, KY, The Islamic Center of Lexington receives an email threatening to kill everyone inside. The threat said, "I'm going to kill everyone I (sic) there you Muslim f**ks."
  • 11/28/15, Phoenix, AZ, The Islamic Community Center of Phoenix had its website hacked, with the words, "Vive le France."
  • 12/2/15, Los Angeles, CA, A Quran riddled with bullet holes is found hanging at the doorstep of an Islamic clothing store.
  • 12/3/15, Palm Beach, FL, The Islamic Center of Palm Beach was vandalized, with windows smashed in and furniture overturned.
  • 12/4/15, Manassas, VA, A threatening voicemail is left at the Manassas Mosque from a caller claiming to be from the Jewish Defense League, stating "We are checking if one Jew has been killed in California. You all will be sorry. You all will be killed."
  • 12/5/2015, St. Louis, MO, A threatening voicemail is left at the Islamic Center of St. Louis saying, "I was a Marine, I killed a lot of Muslims, watched a lot of you die and burn....You want to kill? Come my way. I will cut your **cking head off."
  • 12/5/15, Fredericksburg, VA, In advance of a public hearing about a new mosque, anti-Muslim flyers were put around town, with the headline, "No Jihad in Fredericksburg" along with other anti-Muslim sentiments.
  • 12/5/15, New York, NY, A man enters the store shouting "Kill Muslims", then assaults the store owner with punches.
  • 12/6/15, Twin Falls, ID, The Islamic Center of Twin Falls is vandalized with the words "Hunt Camp?"
  • 12/6/15, Los Angeles, CA, A Sikh house of worship is vandalized with the words, "ISIS."
  • 12/6/15, Alameda, CA , An enraged woman hurled anti-Muslim slurs and hot coffee at a group of Muslims after she say them praying in a California park.
  • 12/7/15, Jersey City, NJ, An Islamic Center in New Jersey, Al Tawheed Islamic Center, receives hate mail and threatening voicemails. Voicemail states, "Every American that has a Second Amendment right is going to take their (expletive) gun out and blow you away. I just want you to be prepared for that."
  • 12/7/15, Miami, FL, An American Muslim shopkeeper is shot three times as he went to open his grocery store and is critical condition.
  • 12/7/15, Washington, DC, Congressman Andre Carson receives death threat in his office.
  • 12/7/15, Vandalia, OH, A 7th grade boy was charged with threatening to shoot a 6th grade Muslim boy. The 7th grader called the younger boy a "towel head," "terrorist" and "the son of ISIS."
  • 12/7/15, Chicago, IL, An Iranian-American woman was spat on while riding the bus by a man who yelled racial slurs at her.
  • 12/8/15, Philadelphia, PA, A severed pig's head is found at the doorstep of the Islamic Center of Philadelphia.
  • 12/8/15, Grand Forks, ND, A Somali restaurant is set ablaze after earlier being vandalized with Nazi symbols on the exterior along with the words, "Go Home."
  • 12/9/15, Washington, DC, Painting company tells customer who cancelled appointment and appeared to be Muslim, "Death to Muslims."
  • 12/10/15, Washington, DC, Santa Clara, CA, The Washington, DC and Santa Clara offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations were evacuated after receiving suspicious substances by mail.
  • 12/10/15, Plano, TX, An American Muslim family has had their windows broken at their home multiple times.
  • 12/11/15, New York, NY, A man reaches across the counter at a restaurant and punches an employee while shouting "Muslim mother**cker."
  • 12/11/15, Coachella, CA, Smoke and fire were seen coming from the Islamic Society of Palm Springs as a result of a "fire-bomb" according to mosque officials.
  • 12/11/15, Phoenix, AZ, The Islamic Cultural Center had two windows damaged with the glass shattered by vandals.
  • 12/11/15, Tampa, FL, In two separate incidents, one American Muslim female was shot at as she was leaving an Islamic center. Another woman was nearly run off the road by someone throwing rocks at her car as she left the mosque.
  • 12/11/15, Chicago, IL, A Muslim man's garage was vandalized with "Go Home."
  • 12/12/15, Hawthorne, CA, Two mosques were vandalized in Hawthorne, CA. "Jesus" was spray-painted on fence of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Baitus-Salaam mosque and a device that looked like a grenade was found on the driveway. A nearby mosque, the Islamic Center of Hawthorne, was spray-painted with "Jesus is the way."
  • I know it was as difficult to hear these acts of hate as it was to read them, but this is why we are here: 49 anti-Muslim attacks in just 30 days since the terrorist attacks in Paris. These are the ones that have been reported and compiled. Surely, there are more.

    [Note: This list is compiled by Muslim Advocates, and just in the hours following this speech, 7 more incidents were added.]

    We are here today, in solidarity, as Asian Pacific Americans, and I oppose anti-Muslim hate as an Asian American.

    Asian Americans have been here before:

    • Yellow Peril of the late 1800s;
    • The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882;
    • The so-called Gentleman's Agreement of 1907;
    • The Immigration Acts of 1917 and 1924;
    • The internment of 120,000 loyal Japanese Americans during WWII;
    • The rise of anti-Japanese anger during the 1980s;
    • The profiling and prejudice after 9/11; and
    • The relentless China bashing today.

    We know what it is like to be excluded.

    To be met with suspicion, prejudice and discrimination.

    To have our loyalty questioned without reason and to have our civil liberties stripped without due process.

    So we stand against anti-Muslim hate because we will not allow our Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian American brothers and sisters to stand alone.

    But I don't just oppose anti-Muslim hate as an Asian American.

    I oppose it with every fiber of my being and every part of my identity.

    I oppose anti-Muslim hate as a person of color--part of the new American majority--who will not allow our communities of color to be divided or discriminated against.

    I oppose anti-Muslim hate as a feminist, who stands for equality between men and women and who understands that when racism and religious discrimination collide with sexism, the impact is even more devastating.

    I oppose anti-Muslim hate as a Christian, who learned in Sunday school to love my neighbor as myself and to do unto others as I would have them do unto me. Who strives for justice and equality because whatever I do for one of the least of my brothers and sisters, I do for Christ. And I will not allow my religion to be used as a weapon or a wedge.

    I oppose anti-Muslim hate as the son of immigrants, who respects and honors the sacrifices my parents made for my family and who wants to ensure that this nation does the same for all immigrants.

    I oppose anti-Muslim hate as a father, who teaches his young daughter every day the difference between right and wrong. Love and hate. And to stand up for what's right.

    I oppose anti-Muslim hate as an American. One who believes that the Land of Opportunity, the American Dream, and Liberty and Justice for All are real values and principles, not meaningless clichés.

    The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans stands today for and with our Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian American brothers and sisters.

    We will oppose anti-Muslim hate within our community--whether it is the Asian American Pacific Islander community, our local community, or our American community.

    We will oppose discriminatory policies that seek to divide us based on race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion.

    We know that there are many pressing priorities and concerns facing the Asian American Pacific Islander community today, but we stand united--with our voices, our support, and our solidarity--to declare that opposing anti-Muslim hate, xenophobia, and bigotry will be one of the highest priorities for NCAPA and to declare that today's rally is just the beginning of that effort.

    Thank you.