Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
June 3, 2019
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks at the ADL National Leadership Summit this afternoon. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you.  I am proud to stand before you as a strong supporter of ADL and its mission.

“In the early years of the twentieth century, ADL was founded to combat bigotry and stamp out hateful defamation.  At that time, the disgusting defamation of the Dreyfus case in France was fresh in people’s minds.  In the newspapers, the horrific lynching of Leo Frank mirrored the painful images of other lynching and violence against African Americans and other minorities.  It was an age of exclusion and division, of attempts to define America narrowly by race and faith and origin.

“The slanders employed against Jewish people dated back to the ages of ‘blood libel,’ expulsions, and crusades.  But in the modern age they were used to dehumanize those who sought safety in the only country on Earth whose foundational premise was the human dignity and equality of every person.

“And ADL recognized that fundamental truth of history: that, as the historian Deborah Lipstadt once wrote, ‘anti-Semitism begins with the Jews but never ends with the Jews.’

“That in the ‘single garment of destiny’ of which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, Jewish people are one of the strands bigots try to unravel first. 

“From the very beginning, ADL has recognized that the best way to protect the safety and rights of American Jews is by working to protect the safety and rights of every person in our country.  You have been at the front lines defending Dreamers, migrants, LGBT people, and minorities who have faced hardship as a result of the Trump Administration’s divisive policies.

“Today, in the early part of the twenty-first century, your work has never been more critical.  We live in a dangerous moment, when vile, timeworn hatreds are being given a degree of social acceptance not seen for decades.  When people are being dehumanized once more for political ends.

“In the United States and across Europe, populist far-right political leaders and movements thrive on division and exclusion, on scapegoating and fear.  To achieve that, they give cover to bigots.  They employ twenty-first century technology to weaponize information and spread centuries-old falsehoods.  Anti-Semitism has emerged as one of the central tactics in their strategy as they attempt to divide people and pit groups against one another.

“Wherever the Alt-Right has infiltrated the mainstream of conservative politics, we have seen an increase in hateful attacks rooted in anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and racism.

“Just last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that ‘there is, to this day, not a single synagogue, not a single day-care center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children, that does not need to be guarded by German policemen.’

“Think about that for a moment.  How sad.  How terrifying.  How wrong. In the country that perpetrated a genocide against the Jewish people less than eighty years ago, Jews are being warned that being visibly Jewish in public could invite violence by white nationalists and neo-Nazis. Never again.  Never now.

“In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s far-right government and the media it controls regularly peddles its conspiracy theories about Jewish domination.

“Last year, the right-wing Polish government passed a law that made it a criminal offense to allege any Polish involvement in the Holocaust, a dangerous and dishonest attempt to rewrite history.

“In France, a far-right party founded by a convicted Holocaust denier won the most French seats in last week’s European parliamentary election on a platform of nationalism and exclusion.

“In all of these countries where right-wing anti-Semitism has been brought into the mainstream, it has been joined by broad and pervasive anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBT bigotry as well.

“Here in America, we are witnessing the same phenomenon.  The same leaders and media figures who have railed against migrants and sought to close our borders have also fueled hatred against Muslim communities and pushed discrimination against gay, lesbian, and transgender people.

“According to the report ADL issued in April, the United States experienced a doubling of anti-Semitic assaults from 2015 to 2018.  Tragically, 2018 also saw the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of our country – the horrific shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh.  The attack on the synagogue outside San Diego, just hours before the report came out, amplified the alarm you raised.

“Meanwhile, the stream of right-wing vitriol aimed at Latino migrants, Muslim Americans, LGBT people, and other minorities has undoubtedly contributed to violence targeting those groups.  We’ve seen migrant families forcibly separated at the border and children held in cages.  We’ve seen violent assaults against Muslims and a ban on people from certain Muslim-majority countries coming to the United States.  We’ve seen transgender Americans banned from serving in our military.  And we’ve seen African-American worshippers gunned down in a historically black church in Charleston and the burning of African American churches across the south.

“Early in his administration, President Trump brought into the White House people like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka and others who built their careers on dog-whistling to racists, anti-Semites, and xenophobes.

“Neo-Nazi and Alt-Right protesters gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 and chanted ‘Jews will not replace us!’ in a march that also drew many peaceful counter-protesters.  Outrageously, President Donald Trump declared that there were ‘…very fine people, on both sides.’

“How sad it is that the party of Abraham Lincoln, who urged ‘charity toward all and malice toward none,’ is led today by an individual who gets it backward.  What a sad and disturbing trajectory for his party.

“In February, we brought a resolution to the House Floor condemning hate and passed it with unanimous Democratic support.  Our resolution condemned anti-Semitism specifically and strongly. It also included a broader condemnation of the other forms of hatred with which anti-Semitism aligns, such as racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia.  It denounced the horrific Islamophobia we’ve seen in recent years as well.  Because, like ADL, Democrats recognize that every form of hatred is tied together, and we can only win the fight against bigotry, inequality, and intolerance if we stand together, united.

“I thank you for your longstanding efforts to combat Islamophobia and what ADL has called ‘pernicious conspiracy theories’ about Muslims in our country, now with threats of violence targeted against Muslim Members of Congress.  There may be political or policy disagreements in our country; but threats like these are never acceptable.  Period.

“I want to thank ADL for its efforts to make it clear that standing up against anti-Semitism must always be a nonpartisan act.  That no party ought to claim that it alone defends the Jewish community against hate.  Your letter to Congressional leaders in March was on point when it said: ‘attempts to use anti-Semitism for political gain, both within and between our political parties, risk undermining efforts to join together to combat anti-Semitic incidents and violence and other forms of hate.’  You were absolutely right.

“That is the danger we face in 2019 – that too many leaders throughout the world aren’t just ignoring the reality of twenty-first century anti-Semitism, they’re facilitating it to fuel their politics of division.  And they are using the fight against anti-Semitism as a cover to divide even further.  As we have seen, anti-Semitism is the canary in the coal mine of hate.  When it arrives, it is never alone.

“It is incumbent upon leaders of all philosophies and parties to come together to reject the politics of prejudice.  To reject hate and make the clear case for the principles upon which our democracies were founded: justice, freedom, tolerance, and equality, and the rights and dignity of every individual. 
 
“This fight is part of a larger battle being waged across the world.  Between those who see division as a tool of domination and those who see diversity and inclusion as the politics of success and principle.
 
“I am reassured knowing that all of you will continue working hard to make our country and the world a safer, more tolerant place for us all.  Especially those of you who have participated in ADL’s program for young leaders.  That you will use your resolve and your energy and your passion for ADL’s mission to educate and to fight back against hate and division.  ADL’s mission and advocacy is as critical today as it has ever been.

“Ten years ago, ADL was at the forefront of the fight to pass the landmark Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which I was proud to bring to the Floor as Majority Leader in 2009.  And you were right there when I helped lead the effort to overturn ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in 2010.  Now, in 2019, I’m proud to work with you to fight back against the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender Americans serving in our military.  And last month, we passed the Equality Act in the House.

“Whether it’s homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, or anti-Semitism, ADL is there, standing up to hate.  I will be there at your side as you do.  And so will my Democratic colleagues in the House.  That is our resolve.  That is our promise.

“And, therefore, when the purveyors of malice ring the bell of bigotry, let none of us ask for whom the bell tolls, but with the poet Donne, let us know that it tolls for us and, in that conviction, respond accordingly. Thank you.”