LCCR Joins ADC in Asking Bush to Remove Civil Rights Commissioner
Washington, DC — Wade Henderson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) today joined Dr. Ziad Asali, President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), in writing to President George W. Bush to ask him to remove Peter Kirsanow from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (USCCR). Kirsanow raised the possibility of internment camps for the mass detention of Arab Americans at a Commission hearing in Detroit on July 19. He did not condemn this idea, but raised it as a serious and reasonable possibility in the event of future terrorist attacks against the United States. He also stated that if the perpetrators of any such attack “come from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights.” He added that “not too many people will be crying in their beer if there are more detentions, more stops, more profiling, there will be a groundswell of public opinion to banish civil rights.”
In their letter to President Bush, Henderson and Asali thanked the President for “sending a clear message to the American people that collective blame and stereotyping are unacceptable and un-American.”
“It is in the spirit of these vital moral principles that we ask that you repudiate and disavow the remarks made by Peter Kirsanow, your recent appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and take steps to remove him from this important position,” they continued. “Unlike you, Mr. President, Mr. Kirsanow appears to be condoning collective guilt and seems open to the idea of the mass internment of an entire community,” Henderson and Asali pointed out.
Henderson and Asali insisted that “While we should take strong and appropriate steps to keep our country safe, it should not come at the expense of fundamental civil rights and civil liberties. Mr. Kirsanow‘s favorable talk of mass internment and the suspension of civil rights is shocking, irresponsible, outrageous, and should be unacceptable for a representative of the United States Government.”
“While we have the highest regard for the Commission, an individual with such views has no place on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Mr. Kirsanow‘s remarks as a member of the Commission are an unfortunate blot on your Administration and your Presidency. These remarks will serve as an unfortunate distraction from our nation‘s united fight against terrorism,” the two civil rights leaders concluded.
ADC has also urged its members and supporters to contact the President and ask that Mr. Kirsanow, who was recently appointed to USCCR by Mr. Bush, be removed from the Commission.