Contact: Olivia Alperstein
Communications and Policy Associate
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Progressive Congress Responds to Representative Loretta Sanchez's Remarks about Muslims
Representative Loretta Sanchez voiced the fears of a growing number of Americans when she spoke about Muslims on “PoliticKING with Larry King” on December 9. What she failed to recognize is that most Americans know that our greatest strides as a nation resulted from our choice to overcome fear and ignorance. We progress as a society when we harness the creativity and innovation of people rather than fall back on stereotypes or preconceived notions about people from different backgrounds.
Representative Sanchez stated, “We know that there is a small group, and we don’t know how big that is — it can be anywhere between 5 and 20%, from the people that I speak to — that Islam is their religion and who have a desire for a caliphate and to institute that in any way possible, and in particular go after what they consider Western norms — our way of life. They are willing to use, and they do use, terrorism, and it is in the name of a very wrong way of looking at Islam.”
Fear-mongering hurts us. It hurts our ability to respond creatively to challenges. It hurts our innovation and our forward-moving progress. Every decade since this country’s founding, Americans have singled out people with certain ethnicities, religions or heritages to persecute mercilessly. Years later, those same people who were feared became an integral part of American society. Without openness toward people of different cultures, Albert Einstein would never have traveled to Princeton, New Jersey and discovered the theory of relativity on our shores. Instead of branding Einstein — a German immigrant — as a potential spy, we welcomed him and gave him a place to do some of his best work. Today, Princeton celebrates Einstein as one of their most famous residents.
People used to hang signs on their doors saying “No Irish and No Dogs Allowed.” Imagine where we would be if the majority of Americans still thought Irish people were thugs, wife-beaters, and lazy drunkards. Imagine if the United States had continued to ban intermarriage between people of different races. Imagine if we still interned Japanese Americans in camps. Imagine if American children were taught that all Jews have horns and are money-grabbers. Fear only sets us back.
Muslims are the latest group of people to face hatred and discrimination in this country, but we can break the cycle. We have a choice: We can say nothing as folks continue to stereotype an entire group of people based on the actions of a few extremists, or we can boldly extend our hands and welcome the Ahmed Mohameds and Malala Yousafzais of the world, leaders and change makers who just happen to be Muslim and whose hearts are no fuller of hate than ours.
Progressive Congress is a 501(C)3 organization based in Washington, D.C. that amplifies and strengthens connections between change makers in the grassroots Progressive community and lawmakers in Congress.