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July 15, 2016 0

ADL’s Issues for the Platform Committees

FB-DNC-RNC-Platforms

Over the next two weeks, Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats con­vene their con­ven­tions – the equiv­a­lent of the MLB All-Star Game for polit­i­cal junkies. While the con­ven­tions are often a spec­ta­cle of polit­i­cal the­ater, this year it feels like the drama that has taken cen­ter stage is over­shad­ow­ing impor­tant pol­icy issues.

This hasn’t hap­pened in a vac­uum.  For years, America’s polit­i­cal debate has been slid­ing toward greater polar­iza­tion and acri­mony, leav­ing lit­tle space for the give-and-take that is vital to the pub­lic pol­icy con­ver­sa­tion and a healthy demo­c­ra­tic process. Even where Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans can find com­mon ground, as they do on issues like crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, there seems to be lit­tle incen­tive for either party to compromise.

These diver­sions would be unhelp­ful in any elec­tion year.  But there are seri­ous issues fac­ing Amer­i­cans today, issues that require seri­ous debate. Amer­i­cans across the polit­i­cal spec­trum are reel­ing from the shoot­ing death of African-Americans Alton Ster­ling and Phi­lando Castile and the mass mur­der of police offi­cers in Dal­las. And ter­ror­ist mas­sacres tar­get­ing a gay night club in Orlando and gov­ern­ment work­ers in San Bernardino, CA have brought home the impact of hatred and the threat posed by vio­lent Islamist groups like ISIS. What­ever one’s views about how to address this vio­lence and the range of inter­twined issues it raises, Amer­i­cans deserve a prob­ing and con­struc­tive national debate rather than a con­test to see who can score the most polit­i­cal points.

In for­mal sub­mis­sions to the Plat­form Com­mit­tees of both par­ties, ADL has urged that Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats address a range of impor­tant issues in an urgent way. Inter­na­tion­ally, the U.S. must con­tinue to play a lead­er­ship role in the fight against ter­ror­ism; in ensur­ing that Israel remains strong and secure; in pro­mot­ing peace and respect for human rights across the Mid­dle East and else­where around the globe; and in speak­ing out against a dis­turb­ing rise in anti-Semitism.  Domes­ti­cally, our sub­mis­sion also addresses a vari­ety of issues, for exam­ple assert­ing the urgent need for progress on vot­ing rights, crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, expanded legal pro­tec­tion for the LGBT com­mu­nity, refugee rights, and gun vio­lence prevention.

ADL has had a long­stand­ing prac­tice of sub­mit­ting its pol­icy agenda to both par­ties, and has called on cam­paigns to reject char­ac­ter attacks and the use of big­otry in numer­ous cam­paign sea­sons.  This year, ADL is host­ing events at both con­ven­tions that focus on find­ing space for sub­stan­tive debate and col­lab­o­ra­tion toward progress in order to get down to the seri­ous busi­ness of address­ing the nation’s problems.

Politi­cians and can­di­dates will win or lose, come and go—but the fall­out will linger unless we can ele­vate the qual­ity of the debate mov­ing for­ward.  It is incum­bent upon all of us to raise our voices, to reject the use of big­otry or char­ac­ter attacks by any can­di­date, and to pro­mote a pub­lic debate based on facts, evi­dence and civil discourse.

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July 14, 2016 2

Speaking Truth, Facing Bias and Promoting Empathy

Magnetic-poetry-(modified-for-policing-and-bias)It has been a rough sum­mer as the topic of guns, vio­lence, police and bias scream across the news head­lines and our smart phones.

Still reel­ing from the June 12 mas­sacre of 49 peo­ple at a gay night­club in Orlando, a few short weeks later we watched on video the back-to-back shoot­ing deaths by police of Alton Ster­ling in Baton Rouge, LA and Phi­lando Castile in Fal­con Heights, MN.  Just a day later, as cities across the coun­try engaged in protests over these deaths, we wit­nessed the hor­ri­fy­ing sniper attack of white police offi­cers Brent Thomp­son, Patrick Zamar­ripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith and Loren Ahrens, and the wound­ing of seven others.

For most of the coun­try, school is out but that doesn’t stop par­ents and fam­i­lies from want­ing to answer ques­tions and find mean­ing in these deaths while they dis­cuss the tragedies with their chil­dren. Nor does it pre­vent teach­ers from reflect­ing on how they will address it with stu­dents when school resumes.

What can we learn from these events and what can we teach chil­dren about them?

The words of Dal­las County Judge Clay Jenk­ins, in the wake of the Dal­las shoot­ing, are insight­ful and instructive:

“We need this to mean some­thing to this com­mu­nity and this coun­try. It’s a sense­less act of hate but if it can mean that it’s an oppor­tu­nity to open that dia­logue so that white peo­ple think about what a Black fam­ily goes through as they teach their chil­dren a dif­fer­ent set of rules than a white fam­ily will teach their chil­dren. So that non first respon­der fam­i­lies think about what a first respon­der fam­ily goes through won­der­ing if their loved one is going to come home.”

What this means is not only do we all have to try harder to lis­ten to and hear the per­spec­tive of one another–perspectives that may be dif­fi­cult and uncom­fort­able to take in—we also need to engage in a dia­logue where we can con­cur­rently speak hard truths and lis­ten with com­pas­sion and empa­thy. It is also crit­i­cal that we lis­ten to and accept the strong feel­ings peo­ple may have about these and other incidents—whether it is anger, fear, shame, sad­ness and dis­ap­point­ment, but also the tri­umphant feel­ings of mak­ing a difference.

As par­ents, fam­ily mem­bers and teach­ers who are respon­si­ble for edu­cat­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of cit­i­zens and lead­ers, how can we trans­late the hard truths of racism, vio­lence, inequity and a need for empa­thy into how we talk to young peo­ple about these issues?

First, it is crit­i­cal that we pro­mote under­stand­ing of iden­tity, cul­ture, dif­fer­ences and develop skills in how to respect those dif­fer­ences. These are con­cepts and skills that need to be taught in a method­i­cal way, espe­cially if there isn’t racial diver­sity in the schools and com­mu­ni­ties in which kids live.  But even if there is diver­sity, these skills and con­cepts have to be taught, nur­tured and mod­eled on a reg­u­lar basis.

Sec­ond, from an early age, we need to talk with chil­dren about prej­u­dice and bias.  As they get older, we can teach young peo­ple about dis­crim­i­na­tion, implicit bias, injus­tice and the ways in which peo­ple have over­come oppres­sion. We need to also talk with them about the inter­sec­tion of racism, vio­lence, inequity and the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. At a time where 69% of Amer­i­cans per­ceive race rela­tions as “mostly bad,” open and hon­est dia­logue across dif­fer­ences must be a pri­or­ity, both for young peo­ple and adults.

Finally, as Judge Jenk­ins asserted, we need to “respect one another, show com­pas­sion for one another and see things through each other’s per­spec­tive.” Racism exists and espe­cially for Black and Latino men, bias can have dan­ger­ous and even deadly con­se­quences when inter­act­ing with the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. Police offi­cers have a demand­ing job that pro­vides an oppor­tu­nity to pos­i­tively impact com­mu­ni­ties but also requires them to face dan­ger on a reg­u­lar basis. Pro­mot­ing empa­thy means help­ing stu­dents under­stand dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and the lens with which oth­ers see the world.

When we do this, we help young peo­ple tap into their human­ity, build their empa­thy skills and feel more con­nected to one another other.

 

 

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July 14, 2016 5

New Black Panther Party Traveling to Cleveland To Inflame Tense Situation

The lead­ers of the New Black Pan­ther Party (NBPP), the largest orga­nized anti-Semitic and racist Black mil­i­tant group in Amer­ica, will be in Cleve­land July 14–17 ahead of the Repub­li­can con­ven­tion, where they will likely inflam­e the already tense sit­u­a­tion fol­low­ing the fatal shoot­ings of Alton Ster­ling in Louisiana and Phi­lando Castile in Min­nesota and the killing of five police offi­cers in Dallas.

The NBPP is one of a num­ber of extrem­ist groups protest­ing in Cleve­land dur­ing the GOP convention.

Hashim Nzinga (left) and Malik Zulu Shabazz (right) lead protestors in Charleston (June 2015)

Hashim Nzinga (left) and Malik Zulu Shabazz (right) lead pro­tes­tors in Charleston (June 2015)

Exploit­ing high-profile shoot­ings for pub­lic­ity and some­times call­ing for vio­lence against law enforce­ment is a com­mon tac­tic of the NBPP. This is espe­cially con­cern­ing since the racist and anti-Semitic Chair­man of the NBPP, Hashim Nzinga, told Reuters on July 13 that the NBPP mem­bers protest­ing in Cleve­land will be armed. Nzinga stated, “If that state allows us to bear arms, the Pan­thers and oth­ers who can legally bear arms will bear arms.”

While Nzinga and other promi­nent NBPP lead­ers such as “spir­i­tual advi­sor” and for­mer Chair­man Malik Zulu Shabazz attempt to por­tray them­selves as civil rights activists, in real­ity they inject big­otry and vio­lent rhetoric into high-profile racially-charged events.

Some instances of the NBPP lead­ers call­ing for vio­lence against law enforce­ment in response to such events include:

  • In May 2015, in the after­math of Fred­die Gray’s death in Bal­ti­more, Shabazz orga­nized protests and called for vio­lence against law enforce­ment on Fox News Radio’s “The Alan Colmes Show.” Shabazz told Colmes that “those young Bal­ti­more youth are liken to the Pales­tini­ans bat­tling an Israeli occupier…some peo­ple might need to get hurt in self-defense.”
  • After Michael Brown was killed by police in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, Shabazz and other NBPP lead­ers trav­eled to Fer­gu­son, aggra­vat­ing the sit­u­a­tion there. Shabazz led pro­test­ers in chants call­ing for the death of the offi­cer who shot Michael Brown. Using a mega­phone, Shabazz yelled, “Who do we want?” The pro­tes­tors responded, “Dar­ren Wil­son!” Shabazz: “How do we want him?” Pro­tes­tors: “Dead!”
  • Shabazz wrote on Face­book on August 14, 2014 that if the name of the offi­cer who shot Michael Brown was not released, he would release the officer’s name and address to “give the demon­stra­tors a clearer target.”
  • NBPP Chief of Staff Chawn Kweli posted a state­ment on Face­book on August 10, 2014 regard­ing Fer­gu­son that read: “IF NEED BE PUT AS MANY AGGRESSORS IN THE COFFINS THEY PICKED OUT FOR YOU IN SELF DEFENSE…IF YOU DIE, DIE LIKE A WARRIOR.”

The NBPP has also made more gen­eral calls for vio­lence after high-profile killings, including:

  • On Black Power Radio in June 2015, regard­ing protests after the death of Fred­die Gray, Shabazz jus­ti­fied the burn­ing down of a CVS and told his audi­ence that “we’re gonna stop all of this god­damn talk­ing and raise up an army and deal with you motherf—-rs”
  • In June 2015 in Charleston, South Car­olina, Shabazz orga­nized a rally in front of the Emanuel AME Church in the after­math of the shoot­ing that killed nine peo­ple in which he stated, “Den­mark Vesey [who planned a slave rebel­lion in 1822 in which he intended to kill the gov­er­nor and set fire to the city] had a plan to kill all the slave mas­ters in the state. Den­mark Vesey had a plan to kill every last one of them and kill all their god­damn fam­i­lies, and we need some new Den­mark Veseys today. We gotta com­plete what Den­mark didn’t fin­ish. He never fin­ished his mis­sion, but the real chil­dren of Den­mark Vesey is [sic] out here today.”
  • In 2012, the NBPP, then under the lead­er­ship of Shabazz, also offered a $10,000 reward for the “dead or alive” cap­ture of George Zim­mer­man, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Mar­tin in Florida.
  • The NBPP’s Tampa chap­ter Chief of Staff, Michelle Williams, spoke on the group’s web radio pro­gram on April 2, 2012. “I am for vio­lence if non-violence means we con­tinue to post­pone a solu­tion to the Amer­i­can Black man’s prob­lem just to avoid vio­lence,” she said. Williams added, “This could not have hap­pened in St. Peters­burg, Florida, where the Black man over there ain’t scared to kill a cracker…If some­one put their hands on you, you bet­ter send that god­dam cracker to the ceme­tery grave.”

Addi­tion­ally, NBPP also has used these high-profile shoot­ing cases to make other racist and anti-Semitic statements:

  • In a Black Power Radio broad­cast on July 4, 2016 titled “Amer­ica on the Hot­seat: The End of White Supremacy,” Nzinga stated, “We’re deal­ing with a beast, man, and we gotta speak power to truth, and we gotta unite. We’re deal­ing with the Jew­ish onslaught…People should get the Jew­ish Onslaught by Tony Mor­ton about how these Jews have hacked into my email today and how these Jews con­trol the media and con­trol so damn much…and run America…”
  • In a May 2015 online radio broad­cast regard­ing the after­math of Fred­die Gray’s death in Bal­ti­more, Nzinga injected anti-Semitism into the dis­cus­sion, employ­ing a com­mon trope of his: that a sup­pos­edly Jewish-controlled media nefar­i­ously por­trays Black peo­ple in a neg­a­tive light. “And with your Jew­ish and your mostly meno­rah, I mean major­ity, uh, minority-owned TV sta­tions, going to paint a pic­ture like something’s wrong with us,” Nzinga stated.
  • Related to Fer­gu­son, Nzinga addressed the NBPP on the August 11, 2014 online broad­cast of Black Power Radio titled “Mur­der In Mis­souri– Michael Brown And Blood Thirsty Pigs– The Bat­tle Is On!” Nzinga claimed that white Amer­i­cans are com­mit­ting “geno­cide” against Black males: “The Black male is being exterminated…The ones who are not being exter­mi­nated, they’re push­ing them to be gay and fags so they won’t be pro­duc­tive on repro­duc­ing babies. This is about genocide.”
  • Nzinga also blamed the shoot­ing in Fer­gu­son on the sup­pos­edly Jewish-controlled media. “Jews’ media and the Jews’ TV, they have made it look like we’re the vil­lains of Amer­ica…” said Nzinga. He also blamed vio­lence in Chicago on Mayor Rahm Emanuel who he described as “a Jew, and that Jew is a mas­ter at propaganda.”

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