Washington, DC - Good morning, my name is David Inoue, and I am the executive director for the Japanese American Citizens League. We are the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in this country.
It is with heavy heart that I come here today to stand with our friends in the Muslim community. What happened in New Zealand is unfortunately becoming too common an occurrence. It is unthinkable that nearly 100 people have been killed or injured in coordinated attacks on two different mosques, sacred places of worship.
We can make no mistake, the evil behind these attacks is too often rooted in white supremacy, exposed by the targeting of places of worship whether most recently a Muslim mosque in New Zealand, or Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, or an African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, or a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. For these killers, nothing is held sacred, and these targets are selected because of the religion they practice. This is not new, hatred and discrimination have a long history. But is shows we are not learning from our history.
The Japanese American experience is one where we were incarcerated because of who we are. But that didn’t happen just with the incarceration. It began with the subtle, and not so subtle, discrimination against Japanese Americans, against Chinese Americans, and Asian Americans. That’s what led to incarceration. We don’t have incarceration now, instead we have attempts at genocide, mass killings targeting specific minority groups, and that is clearly wrong.
With all the talk of immigrants invading our country, threatening our way of life, and the need to build a wall. It is the opposite. We now have a segment of our country that is eroding the ideals of what it means to be American from the inside. We are increasingly not a nation that stands for religious freedom, and diversity as memorialized in our first amendment. And it now appears, we are exporting that hatred and evil to other countries.
Today is Friday, it is the day of community worship in the Muslim community, and in fact, that time of prayer will be quickly approaching at the noon hour. We hope that Muslims around the world today can find strength in their community as they worship together and know that they are surrounded by a community of other faiths and beliefs that stands with them. Together, we will all continue to work together to eradicate Islamophobia and other forms of hatred that weaken us as a nation, and as a worldwide community.