In a statement to supporters today, the NAACP connected the events of 9/11 to racism currently in the United States. 

Derrick Johnson -- the interim president of the NAACP -- linked the events of sixteen years ago when nearly 3,000 people were killed at the hands of Muslim terrorists in New York City, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania, to the “hate and violence” that remain as “constant companions” in the United States.

Johnson wrote:

“Today we remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001. We grieve the loved ones lost in the fatal attacks and celebrate the heroes who so bravely sacrificed their own lives to save others.

“While September 11 remains exceptional in its shock and devastation, hate and violence are still our constant companions.

“Since the November election, bigotry has become mainstream: white supremacists can march in the streets of Charlottesville, VA and sit in our nation’s highest offices without shame or lasting repercussion. As a result, we’ve witnessed a dramatic spike in hate crimes motivated by racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other intolerances.

“This is not the America we deserve. And it certainly is not the America that September 11’s fallen heroes died to defend. 

“The health of our nation depends upon a collective commitment to end hate. We must build a community where none of us fear violence simply because of who we are.

“We must stand united against hate.

“We are calling on all of our members and allies to pledge to contact your representatives and ask them to co-sponsor the NO HATE Act of 2017.”

“There will be many Charlottesvilles,” promised Johnson in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington. Speaking after the clash between some white nationalists and violent alt-left protesters, he said, “We are in trying times. Unfortunately this administration has created a climate where … (hate groups) feel comfortable to walk in public without the hoods anymore.”

Stephen Bannon's Legacy

In an interview in early August with Robert Kuttner of the liberal political magazine American Prospect, former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon remarked how Republicans win when Democrats talk about identity politcs. “The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats,” he said.

Following Bannon's departure from the White House, the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus claimed that Bannon has left behind a legacy of “racist” policies that prevail in the Trump administration. In a statement, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said that tougher voting restrictions, immigration enforcement, prison reforms, drug enforcement are targeted at certain minorities. "Firing Steve Bannon is not enough because the issue of him working in the White House has never only been about him,” Richmond said in a statement. “It's also been about the racist and discriminatory policies he's helped draft and implement which hurt African Americans and other communities or color.”

Richmond denounced Trump's executive orders concerning immigration from Muslim countries, and the establishment of a commission to investigate cases of voter fraud. “So yes, Bannon needs to go –– as do other white supremacists working in this administration –– but the policies need to go too,” Richmond said.

However, Bannon dismissed the supporters of white nationalisim as irrelevant. In an interview with Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes that aired last night, Bannon said “Ethno-nationalism—it's losers. It's a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.” He added, “These guys are a collection of clowns.”

Bannon also defended himself from accusations of racism, saying he grew-up in a desegregated community and does not need "limousine liberals" from New York to tell him what is racism. "I was raised in a desegregated neighborhood," Bannon said. "The northside of Richmond is predominantly black, okay? I went to an integrated school, a Catholic school. I served in the military. I don’t need to be lectured by a bunch of limousine liberals from the Upper East Side of New York and from the Hamptons about any of this. My lived experience is that."

NO HATE Act Re-education Campaigns

The NAACP supports H.R. 1566, the “NO HATE Act” of 2017, which was introduced in the House by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). The companion bill in the Senate, S.662, was introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). According to a joint release, the two Democrats claim that there has been a “post-election surge in hate crimes,” which can be addressed by the provisions of the bill to improve “reporting and expand assistance for victims” of hate crimes. 

“Police forces across the country should be focused on reducing hate crimes,” said Beyer, according to the release. The statement noted that the bill is supported by the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center, which claims that there were 701 acts of “hateful intimidation and harassment in just the first week after the election.”

The NO HATE Act would establish a federal private right of action for hate crimes, offering victims of hate crimes the option to fight for remedies in civil court. The law would seek to further the reporting of supposed hate crime by improving the reporting of hate crimes by all law enforcement agencies to the FBI. It provide federal grant money for states to establish and run hate crime hotlines, to record information about hate crimes, and to redirect victims and witnesses to law enforcement and local support services as needed. 

Also, the NO HATE Act provides for “rehabilitating perpetrators of hate crimes through education and community service.” This means that persons convicted under federal hate crime laws would be required to “undergo community service or education centered on the community targeted by the crime.” 

Penalties for breaking the law would include paying attorneys' fees and treble compensatory damages. 

The bill was co-sponsored in the Senate by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). In the House of Representatives, the bill was co-sponsored by Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Ron Kind (D-WI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), and Paul Tonko (D-NY).



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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