A letter to Mr. Walden on H.R.183, condemning intolerance and bigotry

Letter submitted to Congressman Walden, and also published in Hood River News (March 23, 2019) under the (editor’s choice of) title “Dear Walden.” The letter is the second of a series that follows up on Mr. Walden’s recent calls for bipartisanship . Read also first letter of the series. See Disclaimer.

Dear Congressman Walden:

Thank you for voting for House Resolution 183, condemning intolerance and bigotry. As you know, that resolution was motivated by controversial comments of Rep. Omar (D-MN), but ultimately passed with overwhelming bipartisan support—including Omar’s.

Specifically, the resolution condemns anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination, and bigotry against minorities “as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the values and aspirations of the United States.” It affirms that “whether from the political right, center, or left, bigotry, discrimination, oppression, racism, and imputations of dual loyalty threaten American democracy, and have no place in American political discourse.”

H.R. 183 further affirms that “white supremacists in the United States have exploited and continue to exploit bigotry and weaponize hate for political gain, targeting traditionally persecuted peoples […] with verbal attacks, incitement, and violence.”

Building on these considerations, the resolution “encourages all public officials to confront the reality of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry […] to ensure that the United States will live up to the transcendent principles of tolerance, religious freedom, and equal protection as embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the first and 14th amendments […].”

As my congressman, please ask yourself:

  • Has the US president acted, in words and actions, consistently within the spirit and letter of H.R. 183?
  • Has he used his authority to effectively denounce and combat bigotry and associated violence?
  • Has he specifically acknowledged its growing threat, condemned, and taken steps to combat white supremacy?
  • Has he responded to white supremacy violence, including the horrific carnage in New Zealand, with appropriately forceful words and actions?

If you answer ‘No,’ as I believe you should, please lead a bipartisan motion of censure by the House of Representatives to the president. Unlike impeachment proceedings, formally censuring the president’s feeble response (even encouragement?) to intolerance and bigotry would be mostly a moral statement. But times like ours require strong moral statements.

By taking this stand, you would help reset boundaries and expectations for presidential behavior—while being true to your recent calls for bipartisanship, and helping the Republican Party regain needed moral compass.


— Antonio Baptista


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