The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
"The Enemy is Not Each Other"--Civil Rights Leaders Call for Unity
Feature Story by Tia Sumler - 9/14/2001
Civil Rights Leaders Call for Unity
America's civil rights leaders are calling for national unity in the face of Tuesday's terrorist attacks and urging citizens to refrain from divisive scapegoating and urging Congress to honor the freedoms that are so essential to our democracy.
Wade Henderson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, praised the unity and strength that has been displayed since the attacks. "Regardless of our ethnic origins, our religious convictions, or our political affiliations, Americans have come under attack as one nation, and we are responding as one nation," Henderson said. "From the emergency rooms to the blood banks to everywhere that people are helping their neighbors and rebuilding their communities, Americans are coming together as we always do in times of crisis."
However, reports of hate crimes directed at Arab Americans and Muslims have raised concerns. "Especially when we come under attack, Americans must remember that the enemy is not each other," said Rabbi David Saperstein of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
"The Union of American Hebrew Congregations is concerned, in particular, with reports that some in our nation have directed their understandable anger at Tuesday's carnage at individual Arab Americans and Muslim Americans. We are outraged at reports of attacks on Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and their mosques and businesses and condemn all such acts of lawlessness. Such attacks, such scapegoating, are deeply un-American," Saperstein declared.
In response to such attacks, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee has created a document to help educators promote tolerance and help all students cope with the tragedy.
Floyd Mori, National President of the Japanese American Citizens League, echoed these thoughts, recalling the experience of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor: "We urge citizens not to release their anger on innocent American citizens simply because of their ethnic origin, in this case Americans of Arab ancestry. While we deplore yesterday's acts, we must also protect the rights of citizens. Let us not make the same mistakes as a nation that were made in the hysteria of WWII following the attack at Pearl Harbor."
Another issue that has raised concerns in the civil rights community is the preservation of our civil liberties, the rights and freedoms that are the true wealth of our nation. However, Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU, says he has faith that those freedoms will be respected.
"We strongly applaud the words of our national leaders who, in reaction to this unparalleled tragedy, have promised to preserve the free and open society that has made this nation great.," said Romero. "We welcome, in particular, the eloquent words of President Bush who told the nation last night that, 'America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.' "
Pledging the Leadership Conference's support for efforts to defend the nation, protect constitutional liberties, and promote national unity,
Henderson said, "America always will be the nation we celebrate in song - 'the land of the free and the home of the brave.' We can't be one without the other."