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December 10, 2013 1

Promoting Human Rights on the 65th Anniversary of the Historic Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On Decem­ber 10, 1948, the United Nations Gen­eral Assem­bly adopted the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Human Rights (UDHR), the first ever global asser­tion that “all human beings are born with equal and inalien­able rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms.” The world cel­e­brates annual Human Rights Day on Decem­ber 10th each year.  This Decem­ber, ADL hon­ors the UDHR’s 65th anniver­sary by con­tin­u­ing to fight for the rights enshrined in that momen­tous dec­la­ra­tion and by teach­ing new gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren to learn about the prin­ci­ples it reflects.

Eleanor Roosevelt holding the Human Rights Declaration

Human Rights Day has par­tic­u­lar mean­ing for ADL because anti-Semitism and the per­se­cu­tion of Jews was the touch­stone for the cre­ation of some of the foun­da­tional human rights instru­ments in the after­math of the Holo­caust.  ADL is com­mit­ted to edu­cat­ing youth about the lessons of the Holo­caust and how big­otry and exclu­sion can lead down a slip­pery slope toward unspeak­able atroc­i­ties, and our web site fea­tures a short list of books for chil­dren on the UDHR and how it relates to the rights of chil­dren globally.

ADL is engag­ing activists in pro­tect­ing the rights cham­pi­oned by this his­toric doc­u­ment whether it is by pro­tect­ing the right of all chil­dren to an edu­ca­tion, free­dom of reli­gion and belief for all, or free­dom to asso­ciate and to seek asy­lum from per­se­cu­tion. This month, our pri­or­ity human rights issues have put the spot­light on:

Today, through our activism and rais­ing aware­ness, we honor the spirit of the mov­ing words of, one of the UDHR’s authors, Eleanor Roo­sevelt, who asked:

Where, after all, do uni­ver­sal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they can­not be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the indi­vid­ual per­son; the neigh­bor­hood he lives in; the school or col­lege he attends; the fac­tory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal jus­tice, equal oppor­tu­nity, equal dig­nity with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion. Unless these rights have mean­ing there, they have lit­tle mean­ing any­where. With­out con­cerned cit­i­zen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

 

– Eleanor Roo­sevelt, “In Our Hands” (1958 speech deliv­ered on the tenth anniver­sary of the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Human Rights)

 

 

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August 14, 2013 11

Georgia Police Chief To Join Extremists At Anti-Immigration Protest

Lewis Smith, the chief of police of Uvalda, a small town in the state of Geor­gia (pop­u­la­tion around 600), has announced his inten­tion to join an anti-immigration protest orga­nized by white suprema­cists and neo-Confederate groups. 

michael-cushman-racist

Michael Cush­man

Smith indi­cated he planned to attend the event, sched­uled for August 24 in Uvalda, on the Face­book page of the League of the South (LOS). LOS is an implic­itly racist group that seeks to cre­ate a South pred­i­cated on “Anglo-Celtic” cul­tural dom­i­nance.  The orig­i­nal Face­book post­ing (which has since been mod­i­fied) stated that the orga­niz­ers of the event were Hunter Wal­lace (whose real name is Brad Grif­fin), a white suprema­cist who runs “Occi­den­tal Dis­sent” and Michael Cush­man, who runs “South­ern Nation­al­ist Net­work.” “Occi­den­tal Dis­sent” is a racist blog that focuses on the South and “South­ern Nation­al­ist Net­work” is a neo-Confederate blog that focuses on “South­ern identity.”

Oth­ers announc­ing they would attend the event include Matthew Heim­bach, a white suprema­cist leader with the Tra­di­tion­al­ist Youth Net­work, and Kyle Rogers, a key player in the white suprema­cist Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens. Michael Hill, the pres­i­dent of the League of the South, will also attend the event, along with other LOS mem­bers. The protest will pur­port­edly focus on the claim that “immi­gra­tion is destroy­ing our South­ern Culture.”

Immi­gra­tion has recently played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the pol­i­tics of tiny Uvalda. The mayor, Paul Bridges, has been very vocal in his oppo­si­tion to HB87, Georgia’s harsh anti-immigration law passed in 2011. Bridges joined a 2011 law­suit chal­leng­ing the law, filed by the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and the South­ern Poverty Law Center.

Since 2011, Bridges and Smith have been involved in a series of dis­putes. Some of the dis­agree­ments between the two seem to have stemmed from issues related to immi­grants liv­ing in the town.

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July 26, 2013 0

ADL Commends Legislators For Taking Stand Against Rep. Steve King’s Demonizing Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Those who have fol­lowed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve King’s (R–IA) habit of demo­niz­ing immi­grants as crim­i­nals may not have been sur­prised when he told a jour­nal­ist last week that “there are 100 Mex­i­can immi­grants, with calves the size of can­taloupes, smug­gling drugs for every DREAMer valedictorian.”  steve-king

This fol­lows a long his­tory of deroga­tory and hate­ful anti-immigrant rhetoric by King and oth­ers who pre­fer to obstruct progress toward a leg­isla­tive solu­tion that could actu­ally address the seri­ous prob­lem of America’s bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem. ADL sent a let­ter to Rep. King today urg­ing him to retract his offen­sive state­ments and to refrain from using incen­di­ary and inap­pro­pri­ate language.

Despite wide­spread crit­i­cism for his offen­sive com­ments on immi­grant chil­dren, Rep. King insisted again on June 25on the House floor that undoc­u­mented immi­grant chil­dren are often drug mules who carry ille­gal sub­stances across the bor­der from Mexico.

There was a swift and tar­geted con­dem­na­tion that fol­lowed from the top House lead­ers, as well as other key play­ers in the immi­gra­tion con­ver­sa­tion, includ­ing the House Judi­ciary Immi­gra­tion Sub­com­mit­tee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) and Major­ity Leader Eric Can­tor (R–VA) stepped up to con­demn the remarks imme­di­ately. The Speaker called on leg­is­la­tors to reject hate­ful com­ments that he said were “deeply offen­sive and wrong.” Can­tor, the second-ranking House Repub­li­can, said: “I strongly dis­agree with his char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the chil­dren of immi­grants and find the com­ments inexcusable.”

At Speaker John Boehner’s weekly press brief­ing yes­ter­day, he again con­demned Rep. King’s remarks within the first minute of the brief­ing – unprompted and force­fully saying:

“I want to be clear: There is no place in this debate for hate­ful or igno­rant com­ments from elected offi­cials. Ear­lier this week, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve King made com­ments that, I think were deeply offen­sive and wrong. What he said does not reflect the val­ues of the Amer­i­can peo­ple or the Repub­li­can Party. We all need to do our work in a con­struc­tive, open, and respect­ful way.”

ADL has con­sis­tently called on polit­i­cal lead­ers and can­di­dates to speak out against intol­er­ant and dehu­man­iz­ing rhetoric. In let­ters to Reps. Boehner and Can­tor ADL com­mended their lead­er­ship in pub­licly reject­ing such rhetoric. ADL hopes other leg­is­la­tors will fol­low.  The let­ters noted that “poli­cies adopted in the halls of gov­ern­ment, and the tenor and rhetoric used to debate them, directly impact the lives of immi­grants and all minor­ity groups, regard­less of their immi­gra­tion status.” 

The task of fix­ing America’s bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem is urgent and seri­ous and demo­niz­ing immi­grants does lit­tle to advance con­struc­tive solu­tions.  It mer­its a respect­ful pol­icy con­ver­sa­tion that upholds America’s best ideals of ensur­ing dig­nity for all and that hon­ors America’s her­itage as a nation of immigrants. 

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