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November 20, 2015 0

Today We Remember Transgender Lives Lost and Recommit to Justice

For the past six­teen years on Novem­ber 20th, trans­gen­der peo­ple and allies around the world have come together to mark Trans­gen­der Day of Remem­brance (TDOR). It is a day to honor trans­gen­der peo­ple whose lives trag­i­cally ended in the last year as a result of anti-transgender vio­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion and cel­e­brate the resilience of those who are liv­ing. At memo­r­ial ser­vices around the coun­try, the names of trans­gen­der peo­ple who have been killed in the last year are read.


Much like observ­ing a yahrtzeit (the anniver­sary of a death), it is a time for reflec­tion and intro­spec­tion. This year was an espe­cially vio­lent year, with at least 22 reported mur­ders in the United States since Jan­u­ary, almost dou­ble the num­ber of trans mur­ders in all of 2014. This year has also wit­nessed a sig­nif­i­cant increase in reported non-lethal anti-trans vio­lence. And the major­ity of this year’s vic­tims were trans­gen­der women of color.

Just this past week, the Con­gres­sional LGBT Equal­ity Cau­cus hosted a forum that brought together advo­cates and com­mu­nity lead­ers to dis­cuss how to address soar­ing lev­els of vio­lence against trans­gen­der peo­ple. Unsur­pris­ingly, issues of racism, poverty, the sys­tem­atic mar­gin­al­iza­tion of trans peo­ple, includ­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion in schools, jobs and hous­ing were high­lighted. Advo­cates pri­or­i­tized com­pre­hen­sive nondis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions and immi­gra­tion and crim­i­nal jus­tice reform as a way to reduce vio­lence against trans people.

Also ear­lier this week, the FBI released the 2014 Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Act (HCSA) report. While the report doc­u­mented a decrease in the num­ber of reported hate crimes in the United States, crimes tar­get­ing vic­tims on the basis of their gen­der iden­tity tripled. Tripled. And the vio­lence against trans­gen­der peo­ple is not lim­ited to the United States.  Trans Mur­der Mon­i­tor­ing (TMM) project, a pro­gram of Trans­gen­der Europe, sys­tem­at­i­cally mon­i­tors, col­lects and ana­lyzes reports of homi­cides of trans peo­ple world­wide. This year TMM iden­ti­fied 271 trans per­sons to be added to the list to be remembered.

It is impor­tant to take this day to mourn and to honor the lives of those trag­i­cally cut short by hatred and vio­lence. And it is also a day to re-commit to nam­ing the prob­lems work­ing on solutions.

A com­pre­hen­sive fed­eral anti-discrimination law that explic­itly includes gen­der iden­tity is essen­tial. We must ensure that trans­gen­der peo­ple are explic­itly pro­tected from dis­crim­i­na­tion in hous­ing, employ­ment, pub­lic accom­mo­da­tions, edu­ca­tion, fed­eral fund­ing, credit, and jury ser­vice. These legal pro­tec­tions will go far in reduc­ing the num­ber of trans­gen­der peo­ple put in vul­ner­a­ble posi­tions as a result of discrimination.

State hate crime laws must cover hate crimes com­mit­ted on the basis of gen­der iden­tity and expres­sion. An inclu­sive fed­eral hate crime law is not enough. We must redou­ble our efforts to ful­fill the goals of ADL’s 50 States Against Hate cam­paign, par­tic­u­larly enhanced train­ing for law enforce­ment offi­cers on how to iden­tify and respond to hate crimes com­mit­ted against trans peo­ple, bet­ter data col­lec­tion and report­ing by law enforce­ment agen­cies, and increased pub­lic education.

And we must edu­cate young peo­ple and edu­ca­tors about trans­gen­der lives. Our schools must be places where trans­gen­der and gen­der non-conforming youth are able to thrive in an envi­ron­ment that is safe and free from bul­ly­ing and harassment.

So today, we remem­ber and mourn. Tomor­row we con­tinue to fight fiercely for secur­ing jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all.


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November 20, 2015 0

Anti-Muslim Activity Escalates in U.S. Following Paris Attacks

Fol­low­ing the ter­ror­ist events in Paris, hos­til­ity and attacks against the Mus­lim com­mu­nity around the coun­try have esca­lated on the ground, online and in the pub­lic discourse. Paris Attack Muslim Backlash

Such anti-Muslim inci­dents and sen­ti­ment not only cre­ate an atmos­phere of fear, but also feed into claims made by ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions such as ISIS of America’s inher­ent ani­mos­ity towards Islam and Mus­lims. They use this nar­ra­tive as a tac­tic to gain more support.

Below are reported threats, attacks and other inci­dents directed at the Amer­i­can Mus­lim com­mu­nity in the week fol­low­ing the Paris attacks:

Novem­ber 13: Threat­en­ing calls to a Mosque in St. Peters­burg, Florida
A man was arrested after he left sev­eral threat­en­ing voice­mails for the Islamic Cen­ter of Pinel­las County in Pinel­las Park. He report­edly cited the Paris attacks and warned that he was going to go to “fire­bomb you and shoot who­ever is there.”

Novem­ber 14: Michi­gan woman tweets threats against Mus­lims in Dear­born, Michi­gan
A woman from Fort Gra­tiot was inves­ti­gated by police after she posted a threat on Twit­ter that read: “Dear­born, MI, has the high­est Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion in the United States. Let’s (exple­tive) that place up and send a mes­sage to ISIS.”

Novem­ber 14: Mus­lim student’s dorm room van­dal­ized in Mansfield,Connecticut
A Mus­lim stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Con­necti­cut found the words “killed Paris” writ­ten under his dorm room nametag.

Novem­ber 14: Shots fired at Mus­lim family’s home in Orlando, Florida
Police are inves­ti­gat­ing reports of shots fired at a Mus­lim family’s house in Florida some­time Sat­ur­day evening while they were out at an event paint­ing pic­tures of peace for the vic­tims of the attacks in Paris.

Novem­ber 15: Acts of van­dal­ism at the Islamic Cen­ter of Pflugerville, Texas
The Islamic Cen­ter of Pflugerville, located in a strip mall near Austin, was smeared with feces and pages torn from the Qur’an. Mosque atten­dees dis­cov­ered the van­dal­ism as they were com­ing for morn­ing prayers. Law enforce­ment is inves­ti­gat­ing this attack as a pos­si­ble hate crime.

Novem­ber 15: Shots fired at the Ahmadiyya Com­mu­nity Mosque in Meri­den, Con­necti­cut
The FBI and local law enforce­ment are inves­ti­gat­ing reports of mul­ti­ple gun­shots fired at the Baitul Aman mosque in Meri­den hours after the Paris attacks. One of the bul­lets pierced mul­ti­ple walls before exit­ing out the back.

Novem­ber 15: An Uber dri­ver in Char­lotte, North Car­olina, attacked
Police are inves­ti­gat­ing an inci­dent where an uniden­ti­fied pas­sen­ger threat­ened a 40-year-old Ethiopian immi­grant who was dri­ving him home because he mis­tak­enly thought he was a Mus­lim. The pas­sen­ger struck the dri­ver in the head, nearly knock­ing him out.

Novem­ber 15: A Nor­man, Okla­homa, man threat­ens to shoot Mus­lims
A man from Nor­man, Okla­homa, called 911 and threat­ened to start shoot­ing Mus­lims after what was done in France. When police arrived at his house he stood in the door­way with a gun in his hand and had to be subdued.

Novem­ber 16: Islamic Cen­ter van­dal­ized in Omaha, Nebraska
The sym­bol of the Eif­fel Tower peace sign, which has cir­cu­lated online after the Paris attacks a pow­er­ful sig­nal of sol­i­dar­ity, was spray-painted onto an out­side wall of the mosque in Omaha.

Novem­ber 16: Pro­test­ers tar­get Port­land, Ore­gon Mosque
Pro­test­ers with loud­speak­ers and plac­ards with phrases like “Jesus Saves From Hell” report­edly shouted obscen­i­ties as Mus­lims made their way into the Rizwan Mosque in Portland.

Novem­ber 17: Threats to “shoot up a mosque” near Hous­ton, Texas
A man, who uploaded a pic­ture to Face­book of an assault rifle and ammu­ni­tion, allegedly told a friend that he wanted to attack a mosque. The man never spec­i­fied which mosque he wanted to tar­get, but there is one close to his Sugar Land home

Such anti-Muslim threats and attacks are part of a larger cul­ture of anti-Muslim hate that is also flour­ish­ing online. Exam­ples of such vio­lent expres­sions post Paris attacks include:

  •, a U.S. based anti-Muslim web­site, posted a video about burn­ing the tents of Mus­lim refugees in France. Com­ments under the video by “mem­bers” cheered the attack on the refugee camp and one of the mem­bers wrote, “This is a good start but the most cor­rect response is the Chicago way: they pull a knife, we pull a gun. They send one of ours to the hos­pi­tal, we send one of theirs to the morgue. They kill 180 peo­ple in Paris, we burn down every tent vil­lage in France.” Another mem­ber under the name Angry Cit­i­zen wrote “Kill them ALL.” Oth­ers cheered the burn­ing of “nasty islam rats [sic].”
  • A post on the per­sonal blog of anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller about Syr­ian refugees included a com­ment, “Exe­cute the bas­tards with knives dipped in pig lard or blood!!” When report­ing on the news on Paris ter­ror­ist attacks, one com­ment read, “CAN WE PLEASE JUST KILL ALL THESE MOTHER******S NOW? GET THEM OFF OUR LAND, OFF OUR PLANET, OUT OF THE UNIVERSE.[sic]”

The back­lash against Mus­lims has also been fueled by a num­ber of politi­cians that have made state­ments that equate Mus­lims with ter­ror­ists and paint Mus­lim refugees as a dan­ger­ous risk to the United States. Among the most egregious:

  • Don­ald Trump sug­gested in an inter­view that harsh mea­sures against Amer­i­can Mus­lims might be nec­es­sary.  When asked in the inter­view if these mea­sures might require “reg­is­ter­ing Mus­lims in a data­base or giv­ing them a form of spe­cial iden­ti­fi­ca­tion that noted their reli­gion,” Trump did not rule out such actions. Later, he told another reporter that he would absolutely imple­ment a data­base for reg­is­ter­ing Muslims.
  • Sen­a­tor Ted Cruz is advo­cat­ing for a ban against any Syr­ian Mus­lims enter­ing the U.S.  Cruz pro­posed that the coun­try admit only Chris­t­ian refugees, say­ing “There is no mean­ing­ful risk of Chris­tians com­mit­ting acts of terror.”
  • Dur­ing a cam­paign event, Ben Car­son com­pared Syr­ian refugees to rabid dogs. In talk­ing about let­ting in immi­grants from Syria, Car­son said, “If there’s a rabid dog run­ning around your neigh­bor­hood, you’re prob­a­bly not going to assume some­thing good about that dog and you’re prob­a­bly going to put your chil­dren out of the way.”
  • After Mayor David Bow­ers of Roanoke, Vir­ginia, requested that agen­cies stop pro­vid­ing aid to Syr­ian refugees seek­ing relo­ca­tion in his city, he cited the use of intern­ment camps for Japanese-Americans as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for his decision.
  • Jeb Bush said that Amer­i­can aid for refugees flee­ing Syria should be geared toward Chris­tians as opposed to Mus­lims. Bush pro­posed that the U.S. should take in a lim­ited num­ber of Chris­t­ian refugees, adding, “We should focus our efforts as it relates to the refugees for the Chris­tians that are being slaughtered.”

*As a 501c3 tax-exempt orga­ni­za­tion, ADL does not inter­vene in cam­paigns on behalf of or in oppo­si­tion to any can­di­date for office.

November 19, 2015 12

Closing the Borders to Refugees: Wrong in the 1930s, and Wrong Today

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

A Syrian refugee woman reacts while travelling in an overcrowded dinghy as it arrives at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing part of the Aegean Sea from Turkey, September 25, 2015.  REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

A Syr­ian refugee woman reacts while trav­el­ling in an over­crowded dinghy as it arrives at a beach on the Greek island of Les­bos, after cross­ing part of the Aegean Sea from Turkey, Sep­tem­ber 25, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

In July 1938—three years after the Nurem­berg Laws had stripped Jews of Ger­man cit­i­zen­ship, deprived them of most polit­i­cal rights, and left hun­dreds of thou­sands of Jews seek­ing inter­na­tional refuge—For­tune mag­a­zine asked Amer­i­cans, “What is your atti­tude toward allow­ing Ger­man, Aus­trian, and other polit­i­cal refugees to come to the U.S.?” Shame­fully, more than two thirds said we should keep the refugees out.

In Novem­ber 1938, Kristall­nacht (the “Night of Bro­ken Glass”) left win­dows of Jew­ish homes and busi­nesses in Ger­many shat­tered, syn­a­gogues destroyed, 91 Jews mur­dered, 26,000 deported to con­cen­tra­tion camps and hun­dreds of thou­sands of Jews now des­per­ate to flee Ger­many.  With news of Kristall­nacht as the back­drop, in Jan­u­ary 1939 another poll asked whether the U.S. gov­ern­ment should per­mit “10,000 refugee chil­dren from Germany—most of them Jewish—to be taken care of in Amer­i­can homes.” An astound­ing and shame­ful 61 per­cent said no.

In May of 1939 the St. Louis, car­ry­ing 937 Ger­man refugees—mostly Jews flee­ing the Third Reich—set sail for Cuba. Most had applied for U.S. visas. Turned away from Cuba, as the St. Louis sailed so close to Florida that the pas­sen­gers could see the lights from Miami, they appealed to Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt to give them safe har­bor. With pub­lic opin­ion opposed to lift­ing the strin­gent immi­gra­tion quo­tas or to make an excep­tion for the ship’s pas­sen­gers, the St. Louis returned to Europe. Almost a quar­ter of the pas­sen­gers per­ished in the Holocaust.

Today, the world faces the largest refugee cri­sis since World War II. Almost 60 mil­lion peo­ple around the world have been forcibly dis­placed from their homes. The war in Syria, fueled by the unpar­al­leled bru­tal­ity of ISIS, is largely respon­si­ble for the spike. And once more—shamefully—there is a push for the United States to turn a blind eye to the suf­fer­ing of refugees and shut our doors to those in need.

In the after­math of the hor­rific attacks in Paris last week, the response has been calls to reject Syr­ian refugees—the very same peo­ple flee­ing ISIS’s bru­tal­ity. More than half of U.S. gov­er­nors have either said that their state will not accept Syr­ian refugees or have called on the pres­i­dent to seal the bor­ders to those flee­ing Syria. Mir­ror­ing the pub­lic opin­ion polls of 1939, when asked whether he would even admit young orphaned chil­dren from Syria, New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie, said, “I don’t think orphans under five should be admit­ted into the United States.”

Many will say that today’s refugee cri­sis is not com­pa­ra­ble to that of the 1930s and 1940s. They will say that Jews in the 1930s were inno­cent vic­tims, but what we take for granted today only became appar­ent in hind­sight. “Of all the groups in the 20th Cen­tury, refugees from Nazism are now widely and pop­u­larly per­ceived as ‘gen­uine,’ but at the time Ger­man, Aus­trian and Czecho­slo­va­kian Jews were treated with ambiva­lence and out­right hos­til­ity as well as sym­pa­thy,” described the authors of the 1999 book Refugees in the Age of Geno­cide. Anti-Semitism, as well as fears of com­mu­nist infil­tra­tion and anar­chy, stoked anti-refugee sentiment.

With news that one of the attack­ers in Paris may have slipped into France with a fake pass­port amid Syr­ian refugees, today peo­ple claim it is too dan­ger­ous to take in Syr­ian refugees. After Paris, the pos­si­bil­ity of fur­ther attacks of course raises fear and anx­i­ety, but Amer­ica has put up high hur­dles for refugees seek­ing to enter the U.S., cre­at­ing screen­ing processes that are unpar­al­leled for any other entry method.

Refugees must first apply for entrance to the U.S. at an Amer­i­can embassy or through the United Nations.  If they pass that screen­ing, the Depart­ment of State con­ducts an inves­ti­ga­tion into their back­ground and iden­tity. The FBI checks their fin­ger­prints and pho­tographs, offi­cials from the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity con­duct in-person inter­views, and both Amer­i­can and inter­na­tional intel­li­gence agen­cies con­duct fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tions. Every refugee must undergo a thor­ough med­ical exam. Refugee sta­tus is the sin­gle most dif­fi­cult way to enter the United States.

The Amer­i­can screen­ing process for refugees works. With mil­lions of refugees admit­ted to the United States since 1980, includ­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands admit­ted since 9/11, there have been no recorded ter­ror­ist attacks com­mit­ted in the U.S. by refugees. Unlike Euro­pean coun­tries, the U.S. has the lux­ury of admit­ting refugees only after their appli­ca­tions and back­ground screen­ings are complete—often after a three year process. It is impor­tant to note that the attacker who may have slipped into France with refugees was not him­self a refugee.  He had never applied through offi­cial chan­nels, cleared strin­gent inter­na­tional back­ground checks, or been granted refugee sta­tus. He was a ter­ror­ist with a fake pass­port, not a refugee.

Our hearts still heavy with the hor­ren­dous attacks in Paris, Beirut, and against a Russ­ian plane, the solu­tion can­not be to send those flee­ing that same bru­tal­ity back into the hands of ISIS. Less than a cen­tury ago, xeno­pho­bia, reli­gious big­otry, and hatred shut inter­na­tional doors in the faces of those flee­ing Nazi Ger­many. The world can­not afford to make that mis­take again.

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