Open Letter Urges Presidential Candidates to Reject Bigotry

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Open Letter Urges Presidential Candidates to Reject Bigotry

ACLU Letter on Change.org Has Over 12,000 Signatures So Far

NEW YORK - The American Civil Liberties Union issued an open letter to all presidential candidates calling on them to explicitly disavow any attempt to discriminate against people based on their religion or nationality.

“We challenge every candidate for the presidency of the United States to stand up against bigotry and division, to oppose the exclusion of individuals from the United States on the basis of religion or nationality, and to affirm a commitment to equality for Americans of all races and of all faiths,” says the letter, which was posted on change.org for people to sign on.

The ACLU has taken several steps to fight efforts to block Syrian refugees from resettling in the United States. They include a lawsuit on behalf Exodus Refugee Immigration against Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to stop attempts to suspend resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana, as well as legal action in Texas on behalf of the International Rescue Committee to prevent Texas from illegally barring Syrian refugees from entering that state.

The new letter notes with dismay recent rhetoric against Muslims.

“Since the tragic attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the world has watched some American politicians react with hatred, bigotry, and vile untruths,” the letter says. “They have exploited the politics of nativism and fear, using the atrocities committed by a few individuals to cast blanket suspicion on whole nations and all Muslims. America must be better than this. We are a nation of immigrants founded on the principles of justice, equality, and democracy. Our commitment to these ideals has not always been perfect, and it is horrifying to hear politicians use past examples of national shame, such as the internment of Japanese Americans, to justify discrimination today.”

The link and full text of the letter are below.

https://www.change.org/p/all-candidates-running-for-president-stand-against-bigotry-and-exclusionary-policies-and-commit-to-equality-for-all-americans

Stand against bigotry and exclusionary policies and commit to equality for all Americans.

To All Candidates Running for President:

Since the tragic attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the world has watched some American politicians react with hatred, bigotry, and vile untruths. They have exploited the politics of nativism and fear, using the atrocities committed by a few individuals to cast blanket suspicion on whole nations and all Muslims.

America must be better than this.

We are a nation of immigrants founded on the principles of justice, equality, and democracy. Our commitment to these ideals has not always been perfect, and it is horrifying to hear politicians use past examples of national shame, such as the internment of Japanese Americans, to justify discrimination today.  Our nation and political leaders should instead set an example for people around the world with resilience and hope. Equality and religious freedom are principles enshrined in our founding documents and reflected in our laws. They are not mere concepts to be discarded in difficult times.

Calls to ban Muslims from entering the United States and prohibit the resettlement of refugees fleeing the Islamic State in Syria undermine core American principles by fomenting hate, division, and discrimination. Such hateful rhetoric has given rise to a tide of racism, hatred, and violence against law-abiding American Muslims. It is deeply distressing that hate crimes against American Muslims — and those who appear to be Muslim — are up when all kinds of hate crimes are down. This terrible fact cannot be divorced from the dangerous rhetoric that has seeped into the mainstream in recent weeks.

American Muslims are our neighbors, friends, and colleagues. They are us.

Our political leaders not only set the tone for our nation. They also are the primary messengers to the rest of the world.  When they call for compassion, dignity, and equality, the world listens. When they call for exclusion and defend bigotry, the world also listens. In a time of global uncertainty, American leaders must do the right thing by projecting the America we have always aspired to be.

We challenge every candidate for the presidency of the United States to stand up against bigotry and division, to oppose the exclusion of individuals from the United States on the basis of religion or nationality, and to affirm a commitment to equality for Americans of all races and of all faiths.

The future of America — and the world — is in your hands. Do the right thing. The whole world is watching.

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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