This week, xenophobic hate speech reached a fever pitch amid an international refugee crisis and following a tragic mass shooting in the United States. Elected officials have openly vowed to refuse Syrian refugees in violation of constitutional principles and international law. Others have used the San Bernadino massacre to unleash irresponsible and dangerous vitriol against Muslims in the United States and abroad. This type of racial hate speech has dire consequences. Our country’s long history of odious prejudice and discrimination from Japanese internment to McCarthyism and the Lavender Scare, to slavery and segregation, is a stark reminder of the danger of distinctions based in ethnicity, race, color, nationality, and religion.
Just this month, we celebrated 60 years since Rosa Parks bravely stood up to public segregation in Montgomery, Alabama. During the Jim Crow period, public schools, public places, and public transportation systems were segregated, as were restrooms, restaurants, the U.S. military, and federal workplaces. Today, LDF and our partners in the civil rights movement seek to end the vestiges of segregation and all forms of discrimination. We are doomed to repeat this damaging legacy if harmful rhetoric is amplified or left unchecked.
Those who provide a platform, pedestal, or perch for demagoguery, must recognize their culpability for its damaging effects Elected officials, civic institutions, and media all have a choice between perpetuating or preventing hate. History has a playbook that began with similar rhetoric and has led to religious intolerance, discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and, at its worse, genocide.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in all media attributions as the “NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “LDF”.