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Out Congressman Mark Takano: Reject Efforts at Instilling Fear

Out Congressman Mark Takano: Reject Efforts at Instilling Fear


The parents and grandparents of out congressman Mark Takano were interned during World War II. He urges all Americans — including LGBT people, who know a thing about discrimination — to not go down the dark path of intolerance.


The tragedy at San Bernardino, Calif., was a profoundly sad and shocking moment for Americans across the nation, especially those of us in the Inland Empire who could not have imagined such horrific violence in our community. It was a heartbreaking reminder that we are fighting a brutal ideology of hate and intolerance.

In Sunday evening's address to the nation, President Obama warned that defeating Daesh, or ISIL, will require "every aspect of American power," including our military and intelligence strength as well as our culture of freedom and acceptance for people of all races, ethnicities and faiths.

Less than 24 hours later, the leading Republican presidential candidate called for a ban on all Muslims entering the country.

Daesh and its supporters use attacks such as those in San Bernardino, Paris, and Beirut to inflict both physical and psychological harm. Their strategy is to use fear to drive a wedge between us and our values and to isolate us from one another. The absurdity or legality of Mr. Trump's proposal notwithstanding, you could hardly come up with an idea that's so counterproductive.

Statements that suggest America is at war with Islam are exactly what terrorists are seeking. They are the fuel that powers recruitment and they are the foundation for future attacks. They are also deeply offensive to the nearly 3 million Muslims who call America home, including more than 5,800 currently serving in the US military.

As victims of discrimination, LGBT people aggressively support the principle that America is strongest when we are upholding our pledge of liberty and justice for all. As an openly gay member of Congress and a Japanese-American, I feel a special responsibility to give minority groups a voice.

In 1942, my parents and grandparents were relocated and interned along with more than 100,000 other Japanese-Americans. Their only crime was looking like our enemy at the time. I am appalled to see that terrible policy being referenced as a model for today. With the whole world watching, we must live up to the standard we've set for ourselves and learn from our past mistakes. Any discussion of treating Muslims in this country differently based on their faith puts us at risk of writing a similarly dark chapter in America's history.

Terror attacks are an invitation from our enemies to join them in an ideology of hate and intolerance. It's every American's job to firmly decline that invitation and uphold the values that make this country of source of hope around the world.

Mark TakanoMARK TAKANO is the U.S. representative for California's 41st Congressional District and the first nonwhite openly gay person elected to the House of Representatives.

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