Addressing Trump's Remarks on the Exclusion of Muslims

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Statement of Theodore M. Shaw, Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights Regarding Donald Trump’s Position on the Exclusion of Muslims

The Center for Civil Rights does not take positions on partisan political matters. Political neutrality, however, does not require that we stand mute in the face of discriminatory statements and actions that marginalize individuals on the basis of race, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation, disability, age, or any other protected classification. This is especially true for the Center for Civil Rights, which has as its mission the protection of individuals against unlawful discrimination and the advocacy of civil and human rights.

We are all mindful of the terrorist attack on the community of San Bernardino, as well as other instances of mass violence in the United States and across the globe that have taken countless lives. We are mindful of how some individuals have carried out these deeds in the name of a perverted version of Islam, but we are also mindful of other motivations for terrorist attacks, such as the racist slaughter of nine innocents in a Charleston, South Carolina church, or the killings of individuals at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. Those of us in Chapel Hill live and work in a community that all too recently suffered the tragic loss of three young people of Muslim faith whose promising lives were taken by an individual whose motivation appears to have been stoked by Islamophobia.

I believe that it is important to condemn terrorism and violence against innocent people regardless of motivation, victim, or perpetrator. I further believe that we all have individual and collective responsibility to stand up and speak out in the face of inflammatory speech that can incite hatred and conduct that conflict with our most cherished core values as North Carolinians and Americans.

This is not about elections or partisanship. It is about who and what we are. It is important that people of Muslim faith do not think and believe that others who are silent support the irresponsible and reprehensible words of someone who is at the present time a major actor in American public life. Donald Trump’s call to exclude from the United States all Muslims solely on the basis of their faith is wrong as a matter of national principle, constitutionality, morality, and human decency.

We live in troubled times. Our collective and individual security is a legitimate imperative. We cannot choose, however, between our security and the constitutional rights of innocent and peaceful Americans by assigning group guilt. We must defend our security without betraying our most sacred principles. When we think we can do otherwise, terrorism prevails.

Posted by Theodore M. Shaw (Ted) on Wed. December 9, 2015 9:29 AM
Categories: General, Race Discrimination
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