Written Testimony of Christopher Kang
National Director, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
Hearing on “Willful Blindness – The Consequences of Agency Efforts to De-Emphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism”
U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT, AGENCY ACTION, FEDERAL RIGHTS & FEDERAL COURTS
JUNE 28, 2016
The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) is a coalition of 35 national Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) organizations that serves to represent the interests of our communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns. In December, NCAPA declared that standing against anti-Muslim hate, xenophobia, and bigotry would be one of our highest priorities, and it is through that lens that we are honored to submit this statement for the record.
The hate crime in Orlando earlier this month was horrific, but the response to hate should not be further hate or division. It is in times of tragedy that we must be united and support one another.
That is why this hearing is so troubling.
It is willful blindness to allow terrorists who use religion in their propaganda to represent the billions of Muslims and millions of American Muslims whose faith so clearly embraces peace.
It is willful blindness to believe that profiling--whether based on religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity—will make us safer.
It is willful blindness to exclude refugees based solely on their religion or national origin.
It is willful blindness to dismiss efforts to uphold the civil rights and civil liberties enshrined in our Constitution as “political correctness.”
It is willful blindness to recommend that the United States use economic and financial tools to combat terrorism while the Senate has blocked confirmation of the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Crimes for more than a year.
It is willful blindness to not address the proliferation of firearms—and assault weapons in particular—that are used in these mass shootings.
It is willful blindness to only call the mass shooting in Orlando a “terrorism issue” and not recognize that it was a hate crime directed at the LGBTQ community and the Latinx LGBTQ community in particular.
It is willful blindness to fail to recognize that anti-Muslim hate, xenophobia, and bigotry have fueled an increase in hate crimes toward Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian American communities that must be stopped.
It is willful blindness to not understand that this rhetoric has led to children being bullied, harassed, and physically attacked for their religion or perceived religion.
It is willful blindness to claim to protect our nation while undermining the cherished freedoms it was founded on—including the freedom of religion.
It is willful blindness to use one of our nation’s greatest strengths—its diversity—as a wedge to divide us.
In our nation’s history, Asian Americans have been subjected to fear, hysteria, and prejudice that led to discriminatory policies. For example, in 1882, the federal government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first—but unfortunately not the last—federal law to exclude a specific ethnic group from immigrating to this country. During World War II, 120,000 loyal Japanese Americans were incarcerated in detention camps, even though none was ever charged with a crime. These clearly were mistakes to learn from, not ideas to replicate.
There is no question that all Americans want to keep our nation safe and secure, but in doing so, we must always remember our values, principles, and history.
As we move forward following our nation’s worst mass shooting, NCAPA urges Congress—and all Americans—to stand against anti-Muslim hate, xenophobia, and bigotry and to oppose any discriminatory policy proposals.
We are one nation. We stand with Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian Americans. We mourn with our LGBTQ friends and family. And we will not be divided.