WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 21, 2017) — South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian civil rights organization, joined Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and organizational leaders on Monday for a roundtable discussion on the devastating impacts of President Trump’s “Muslim Bans” and the important judicial rulings that have stifled their enactment.
The nation continues to experience a blinding uptick in anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant hate violence, emboldened by the President’s virtually identical “Muslim Bans.” In two months our communities have experienced deadly shootings in Kansas and Washington State, arson and vandalism of mosques, businesses, and homes nationwide, and the heavy weight of fear and uncertainty experienced by our communities across the country.
“There is an acute relationship between policies and rhetoric that criminalize Muslim, Arab, and South Asian American communities and the hate violence targeting these communities,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, director of National Policy and Advocacy, who represented SAALT at the roundtable. “While the judiciary doggedly blocks the President’s “Muslim Bans,” the damage continues to be done as each week uncovers a new inventory of victims of racially motivated attacks.”
The violence currently facing the nation is building on the toxic momentum of the 2016 presidential election. SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” documents over 200 instances of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric during this historically divisive election cycle, with 95 percent of incidents animated by anti-Muslim sentiment and 1 out of 5 xenophobic comments emanating from then-candidate Trump.
Cardin responded to SAALT’s findings and the uptick in hate violence nationwide, then said, “It starts with leadership. President Trump’s comments as a candidate and a President is just the opposite of what you need.”
The President has tried to strategically distance himself from his own campaign rhetoric over recent weeks in hopes of pushing through his “Muslim Ban 2.0,” but last week the Maryland Federal District Court wasn’t convinced. In its ruling U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang noted, “Significantly, the record also includes specific statements directly establishing that Trump intended to effectuate a partial Muslim ban by banning entry by citizens of specific predominantly Muslim countries deemed to be dangerous, as a means to avoid, for political reasons, an action explicitly directed at Muslims.”
2017 has been a banner year for hate. What we’ve learned in these short months is that words matter, words can be deadly, and words properly measured can be the key to justice. SAALT is listening.