Hearing on Hate Crimes and Domestic Terrorism

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Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Hate Crimes and Domestic Terrorism, largely in response to the Oak Creek attack on the Sikh community.

Here's a letter we sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.


OneAmerica commends the United States Senate Judiciary Committee for convening a hearing on the critical topic of hate crimes and domestic terrorism. The United States of America is built on a foundation of inclusion and diversity, and actions like those taken by extremists against members of the Sikh community are an affront to all Americans and our founding principles as a nation. By bringing attention to this matter, which is not an isolated incident, we hope that our government and country can move forward in a manner consistent with our founding principles and increase and strengthen measures to prevent, address and combat crimes and domestic terrorism motivated by hate, ignorance and prejudice.

OneAmerica which is headquartered in Seattle, Washington advances the fundamental principles of democracy and justice at the local, state and national levels by building power within immigrant communities in collaboration with key allies. OneAmerica envisions a peaceful world where every person’s human rights and dignity are respected, where communities appreciate differences and stand together for justice and equality, and where each person contributes to the common good.

We were founded in the wake of crimes committed against immigrants and minority communities in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and the recent crimes committed in Oak Creek, Wisconsin are an important reminder of how our mission and vision are as relevant today as they were more than a decade ago. We must always remember that the actions of domestic extremists like those in Oak Creek are in service to the terrorists that attacked the United States on 9/11, who want to create a climate of fear in the United States and pit Americans against each other. America is stronger when we are united and celebrate our religious and ethnic diversity and commit ourselves to tolerance and learning.

The September 19 hearing on Hate Crimes and Domestic Terrorism is an important opportunity for our nation to reflect not only on the actions of individual extremists, but also on the policies of our government and the political discourse in America that can exacerbate prejudice and fear directed toward religious and ethnic minorities in the United States of America.

In addition to this cover letter, we submit to the record the attached article written by OneAmerica board member Hardeep Rekhi, an active leader in the Sikh community in Washington State. As Mr. Rekhi writes:

“Overcoming hate is not an impossible goal. We need more interaction as a community. We need to learn about each other, from each other. It means schools and parents teaching tolerance and creating awareness. It means calling out people who make hateful comments, whether they are our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, friends or strangers… Sikhs have been a part of America for more than 130 years. Some of the earliest Sikhs immigrated to this state, working in Bellingham's lumber mills. Sikhism is the world's fifth-largest religion. The faith first emerged in 1469 in the Punjab region, which is now part of India and Pakistan. Approximately 500,000 Americans practice Sikhism. We couldn't stop the Wisconsin attacker from doing what he did. We owe it to the victims to confront hate, whenever we see it. If we don't, this sort of tragedy will happen again.”

Sincerely,
Rich Stolz, Executive Director
OneAmerica

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