9/11 Anniversary: Civil and Human Rights Groups Commit to Respect for Diversity, Safety, Security
Washington, D.C. – On a press conference call today, national civil rights, human rights, civil liberties, Muslim, Jewish, and South Asian groups introduced their statement of shared principles and previewed their activities related to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Click here to download an MP3 of the call. More than 70 diverse organizations have signed on to the statement of shared principles in advance of the anniversary calling for, among other things:
- Solemn remembrance of the victims of 9/11;
- Recognition of the critical importance of combating terrorism without casting blame or suspicion or alienating any particular community;
- Greater partnerships between communities and law enforcement;
- Respect for diversity, fairness, and tolerance, and our commitment to protect fundamental freedoms and basic human rights as well as our need for safety and security;
- A respectful, evidence-based, public discourse that will foster reasoned and constructive policymaking; and
- Policies that promote inclusion and respect for basic rights of every person in America.
The statement of principles and a complete list of signatories are below this advisory. Six representatives of these organizations expanded on these shared principles and previewed their activities related to the anniversary, including: Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the report "Restoring a National Consensus: The Need to End Racial Profiling," which shows how the use of racial profiling has expanded in counterterrorism and other contexts. Henderson said:
"We come together today to reaffirm the importance of combating terrorism but the need to do so without casting blame or suspicion or alienating any particular community. This means crafting national policies and partnerships with law enforcement that are based on our common American values such as respect for diversity, fairness and tolerance and fundamental civil and human rights."
Talat Hamdani, mother of a first responder that was killed during the 9/11 attacks and Board Member of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, said:
"Nearly three thousand Americans were killed on 9/11. They were casualties of 9/11 simply for being Americans, casualties of hatred and intolerance. As a nation, we must not give in to this same mind-set. The first responders who rushed to rescue them transcended the barriers of race, faith and ethnicity. As a tribute to all those that died that day, we need to transcend these barriers as well and reset our moral compass. We need to redeem the dignity of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave."
For more information from Talat Hamdani or Wade Henderson, contact Scott Westbrook Simpson – [email protected] – 202.466.2061 Elisa Massimino, President and CEO of Human Rights First discussed key lessons learned since 9/11 and steps for the coming decade to realign human rights and global security, said:
"In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Americans found strength in one another and in our common values. Ten year later, our nation should honor the lives lost that day by ensuring that national security policies uphold our most cherished principles—respect for the rule of law and the inherent dignity of all people."
For more information from Elisa Massimino, contact Brenda Bowser Soder – [email protected] – 202.370.3323 Deborah Lauter, National Civil Rights Director at the Anti-Defamation League, discussed why the ADL signed on to the statement of principles and highlighted the report it is publishing today assessing a range of post 9/11 issues, as well as its report "Committing to Respect: Lessons for Students to Address Bias." Lauter said:
"9/11 was the date that hate became everyone's problem. How have we as a society done since then in addressing the consequences of hate? The results are somewhat a mixed bag. America has struggled to find the right balance between protecting our nation from terrorist attacks and protecting individual rights. On this 10th anniversary we can take satisfaction in the fact that America's democratic principles have broadly withstood this challenge. But the fight against hate remains critical as we seek to preserve the values and ideals we most cherish in America."
For more information from Deborah Lauter, contact Todd Gutnick –[email protected] –212.885.7755 Deepa Iyer, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) discussed the America for All of us Campaign, and identified themes around community building and resiliency in the midst of the post 9/11 crisis. She reflected on the current tide of xenophobia and Islamaphobia, and previewed upcoming reports on profiling and backlash faced by South Asian Americans. Iyer said:
"For South Asian, Sikh, Muslim and Arab American communities, the grief that we felt on September 11th was quickly compounded with a sense of fear and uncertainty as reports of backlash, hate violence and scapegoating began to emerge. The ten year anniversary is a time for us to remember, reflect, and renew our country's commitment to fundamental values of inclusion, equality and diversity."
For more information from Deepa Iyer, contact Afshan Khoja – [email protected] – 301.270.1855 Laura Murphy, Director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office, discussed the ACLU's activities around the Tenth Anniversary, including the upcoming report, "A Call to Courage: Reclaiming Our Liberties Ten Years After 9/11," blog series, call to action, timeline of events, and book by its president, "Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and Erosion of American Democracy." Murphy said:
"After 9/11, Americans were united by a strong sense of resolve and patriotism. Despite the terrible tragedy of the attacks, we were and are united in our belief that America, its institutions, and its values must not only survive, but also thrive. This tenth anniversary is a call to courage to overcome the fear-based rhetoric that tries to drown out voices of strength, unity and resolve."
For more information from Laura Murphy, contact Scott Swenson – [email protected] – 202.675.2313
STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES ON TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF SEPTEMBER 11th PDF Download We the undersigned are a diverse group of religious, racial, ethnic, and civil and human rights organizations that have joined together in solemn remembrance of the victims of 9/11. We honor their memory on this 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, by rededicating ourselves to core principles as set forth in this statement that reaffirm our unity of purpose as a nation, the resilience of our democracy, and our respect for fundamental freedoms. Much attention has been paid to divisions among groups and political fault lines in the public debate. For our coalition, this anniversary is an occasion to recall as well that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, across the nation, we experienced numerous expressions of unity, empathy and a renewed faith in each other as many of us joined together in solidarity and to help one another. The events of September 11th were transformative in many ways. They shook America's sense of security and brought home to every person the danger of extremist violence and the reality of our vulnerability. In the decade since 9/11, two administrations, the Congress, and countless state and local leaders have devoted considerable attention to domestic security challenges. The debate over how we as a country should best cope with ongoing threats is dynamic and ongoing. Effective counterterrorism is important to everyone, but policies that divide communities, inflame fear and violate human rights undermine our nation's core values and our security. Some counterterrorism measures have resulted in insufficient adherence to constitutional protections and violations of human rights. Moreover, debates on issues such as border security have often fanned public fear and contributed to an atmosphere that fostered distrust, racial profiling and even hate violence. Too often, even well-intentioned public officials have exacerbated fears and misunderstandings. Indeed, some government policies enacted in haste after 9/11 have had discriminatory effects and singled out entire groups as targets of suspicion. This has left some in our communities feeling vulnerable and unsafe in their homes, at their workplaces, at religious gatherings, and in public spaces. This has been the case especially for immigrants, Muslims, Sikhs, South Asians, and Arabs. Left unaddressed, these conditions threaten to undermine efforts to promote safety and security. We know from experience that America's historic commitment to civil and human rights is not an impediment to public safety but rather offers a more enduring and effective approach by ensuring that all communities are not alienated or scapegoated. This anniversary is also a moment to reflect on the importance of maintaining America's standing as a global leader. The U.S. speaks proudly to other countries about the need to protect human rights while fulfilling the duty of a government to protect the security of its people. Our decades of experience as a coalition fighting hate crimes have shown the power of diverse groups working together and partnering with law enforcement to shape effective responses. These efforts have required public-private partnerships to challenge bias, prejudice and profiling based on race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion and disability. We anticipate building on that experience to bring together groups and political and civic leadership to advance our common goal to build secure and inclusive communities that reflect our nation's values and its diversity. We pledge to:
- Use this anniversary as an occasion to recall our shared commitment and shared sacrifice to ensure that American policies remain consistent with our highest ideals.
- Work in solidarity to uphold our common American values such as respect for diversity, fairness, and tolerance, and our commitment to protect fundamental freedoms and basic human rights as well as our need for safety and security.
- Join together in support of policies that promote inclusion and respect for basic rights of every person in America.
- Encourage individuals to participate in a respectful public discourse that will foster reasoned and constructive policymaking.
- Advance a more constructive public discourse and policy environment in which the policy recommendations of so many of our organizations – ranging from accountability for torture to ending indefinite detention to immigration reform – can be considered as part of a sober, reasoned, evidence-based discussion.
- Stand by each other, as we did in the days following 9/11, and throughout the last decade, to build and sustain durable partnerships to ensure that no one in our communities is singled out or demonized in this debate.
- We call on political leaders and public officials to provide positive political and civic leadership to meet the challenge of ensuring the safety and security of every person in America while preserving the freedom and human dignity that is the bedrock of American democracy. This includes:
- Recognizing the critical importance of combating terrorism without casting blame or suspicion or alienating any particular community;
- Supporting policies that promote resilience of our civil and legal institutions as well as inclusion and respect for basic rights of all individuals;
- Engaging in a policy discourse based on evidence and facts rather than one based on overheated rhetoric or the manipulation of fear and racial or ethnic stereotyping;
- Strengthening institutions and mechanisms that safeguard civil and human rights;
- Promoting greater partnerships between communities and law enforcement to prevent and fight extremist violence while challenging bias and rejecting racial profiling;
- Protecting and promoting religious freedom rights, enforcing existing civil rights laws, and ensuring comprehensive federal and state hate crime data collection efforts;
- Using their bully pulpit to speak out in response to terrorist acts and bias-motivated incidents to affirm unity, condemn bigotry, and calm fears.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.