Letter represents the voices of more than 10 million people asking the president-elect to speak out against hateful acts and ideology.
Labor, civil rights and faith leaders, along with many others, called on President-elect Donald Trump to take a much stronger stance against hate-fueled acts of harassment, vandalism, property destruction and assault that have happened since his election.
More than 100 groups — representing more than 10 million people — have signed on to a letter to the president-elect from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Southern Poverty Law Center’s Maureen Costello, who leads the Teaching Tolerance project — calling on Trump to denounce the hate acts and the ideology that is driving them. The letter was delivered to the president-elect on Friday.
You can read the letter HERE, but here’s an excerpt:
In the months leading up to your election, your campaign rhetoric found an audience with those who would use our differences to divide us. Throughout the campaign, you and your supporters directed hateful language at people based on what we look like, where our families come from, who we love, how we worship, our abilities, our gender, and other factors that make up our identity and expression in the world.
In the days since your election, we have seen people — seemingly emboldened by your victory –committing harassment, vandalism, property destruction and even assault based on those differences. Many of these acts have been carried out in your name. Though you may not condone this behavior, your silence gives tacit permission to those who perform these acts. …
The presidency is about many things. Chiefly, it is about setting an example through your leadership. You have said that you will be the president for all Americans, Mr. Trump. We ask that you keep your promise by loudly, forcefully, unequivocally and consistently denouncing these acts and the ideology that drives them.
The letter was announced at a press conference that featured speakers Weingarten, Costello, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Nancy Zirkin of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Scott Kasten, a Minneapolis teacher, and Austin McCoy, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan — where a student wearing hijab was threatened with being set on fire.
Weingarten spoke with passion and eloquence about the need for president-elect Trump to be far more forceful in his denouncement of the more than 700 hate-filled acts carried out since the election, many explicitly in his name.
This is not a political matter; this is a matter of moral responsibility. Acceptance, inclusion and the right to live without fear of bullying, intimidation or assault should be a common bond for all of us. America in 2016 can’t allow the normalization of hate. That is why we stand with so many others, calling on the president-elect to act and to demonstrate leadership and moral responsibility by vigorously and unequivocally denouncing these acts of hate to help end the dangerous and divisive environment that was created during the campaign and in its aftermath.
The Rev. Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach and architect of the Moral Mondays movement, said Trump must repent and take responsibility.
Mr. Trump’s campaign has been one of unbounded vulgarity against people of color, immigrants, women and people of different faiths. He must repent, take responsibility and challenge those who have been emboldened by his words, and he must also change the direction of his policies that undermine the cause of justice and civil rights. Anything less than this will continue the deep distrust and apprehension we have regarding his presidency.
In the words of the Rev. Barber, it’s not about right or left — it’s about right and wrong. Through his silence, president-elect Trump is endorsing the acts of hate and violence being carried out across the country. Particularly alarming is the increase in incidents in schools, including grade schools. Where do young people learn to behave this way? From their parents and, perhaps even more to the point, from what they see in the media.
A President’s role is to lead and to set an example. For the good — and the safety — of our country, now and in the future, president-elect Trump must speak out decisively to condemn acts of violence. Everyone must call on him to do so, to guard against the normalization of hate and harassment.
Speaking of which: Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday morningHamilton, which delivered a respectful statement at the end of a performance Pence attended on Friday. The statement asked him to reflect on the diversity of the cast as representative of the entire country he has been elected to help govern.
Watch the video and decide for yourself, but it seems clear that our president-elect doesn’t truly understand what harassment is. And at the time of his tweet, he still hadn’t acknowledged the letter asking him to denounce actual hate.
[Photo credit: Amy Lynn Smith]