Hate Crimes Should not be a Partisan Issue

September 21, 2012


On Wednesday, Sept. 20, MPAC attended the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee’s important and timely hearing on “Hate Crimes and the Threat of Domestic Terrorism.”

Convened by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, this hearing was sparked in part by the tragic events at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, WI. With more than 400 members of the Sikh American, American Muslim, African American and interfaith and ethnic communities in attendance, the hearing was a great show of solidarity that these types of crimes will no longer be tolerated.

SEE: Full Hearing on C-SPAN (c-spanvideo.org)

Addressing growing concerns that hate groups are on the rise and that attacks could happen anywhere, Durbin highlighted that this is the first hearing in recent years focused on the threat of violent domestic extremists.

“We cannot ignore the threat of homegrown non-Islamic terrorist,” he said

ALSO SEE: Sen. Dick Durbin’s Full Statement

Daryl Johnson, the founder and owner of DT Analytics, LLC and the former Department of Homeland Security analyst, said that after extensive research he found that extremist Christian groups in Michigan had amassed more weapons than the weapons amassed by convicted homegrown Muslim terrorists since 9/11. His analysis highlights Durbin’s sentiment that the domestic terror threat is larger than we care to know.

Though six speakers presented finding after finding, did the hearing fall on deaf ears, as the Republican committee members were not in attendance? With all that is taking place in the world and at home, hate crimes and the threat of domestic terrorism is not and should not be a partisan issue. Perhaps the message of the hearing would be too much for a party that has members engaging in this type of hate-filled behavior.

For the hearing, MPAC and more than 80 organizations submitted a statement for the record outlining goal-oriented solutions, such as asking Congress to be more responsible with rhetoric that marginalizes communities. Politicians’ and public officials’ divisive words have a powerful impact on communities as witnessed by the hate speech of five congressional members against American Muslims, which resulted in an increase in hate crimes against said community.

With Democrats being the only members of the Judiciary Committee in attendance, it is an abomination to the message that our nation’s strength lies in its unity, and it is a slap in the face of the purpose of the hearings.

All committee members should have attended, not because it is their duty as members, but because they should be leading the charge as concerned citizens of our nation.

Following the hearing, Haris Tarin, Director of MPAC’s Washington, DC, Office, joined Durbin and representatives from 11 organizations affected by hate crimes for a press conference to re-emphasize the need for this conversation.

An attack on one American is an attack on us all.

The hearing is the first step in addressing the rise in hate crimes. The next step is for our political leaders and public officials to take an oath to end hate speech that may lead to violence. However, what message are politicians sending to the country when they cannot be bothered to attend a hearing on the issue?

The hearing was a brave first step by Durbin in an attempt to start the conversation on domestic terrorism and hate speech. The outpouring of support by community groups showed the want and desire for this conversation. Now we hope everyone is listening to the demand.

[Contact: Hoda Elshishtawy, Legislative and Policy Analyst, (202) 547-7701,hoda@mpac.org]

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