Hope, Not Hate

Hope, Not Hate

The following are remarks from Council Member Brad Lander at the Brooklyn Vigil for Paris, November 15, 2015:

Article 1. Men are born free and remain free and equal in rights.

Article 4. Liberty consists in the power to do anything that does not injure others.

Article 9. Every man being presumed innocent until he has been pronounced guilty.

Article 10. No one should be disturbed on account of his opinions, even religious, provided their manifestation does not upset the public order established by law.

Article 11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man.

Article 12. The guarantee of the rights of man and citizen requires a public force; this force then is instituted for the advantage of all and not for the personal benefit of those to whom it is entrusted.

We defeat terrorism by re-asserting our values. As we mourn the victims of Paris, Beirut, and Kenya, and remember those of Lower Manhattan, there’s no place better to start tonight than the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, written in Paris in 1789.

Those who have seen Hamilton know that Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law Angelica Schuyler could have taught the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson about gender equality, and that they had a long way to go to genuinely embrace all human beings.

But still, it is those very values — liberte, egalite, fraternite; freedom, radical equality, tolerance — that anchor us in these times. Indeed, it is these very values that the terrorists despise and seek to destroy. It is no coincidence they attacked places in Paris where young people from across race, religion, and culture gather, known for creativity and anti-racism and acceptance.

An ocean away, in this beautiful and cosmopolitan borough of Brooklyn, we treasure those values. We don’t always live up to them, God knows, but they are the beacon for our best selves, for the world we are working to build.

We must stand united behind those values. In the days ahead, we must join together with people from across Brooklyn — regardless of race, religion, language, or neighborhood — and across the world. We must seek justice. We must redouble efforts to keep our families safe. We must fight terrorism.

But we must not betray our values. We must stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and not allow them to be scapegoated. We must welcome refugees, knowing that so many of our people were refugees once, and recognizing that today’s refugees are fleeing this very brutality.

We must stand up to terror, we must stand with Paris, by upholding the rights they inscribed there back in 1789.

Today in Paris, 226 years later, Cardinal Andre XXIII called on us to pray for hope, not hate. Hope, not hate.

We pray tonight, in the name of hope, not hate.

We’ll hold onto to our values. It is not too late.

Tonight, and again tomorrow.

P.S. I didn’t include this in my remarks at the vigil, but earlier today “hope, not hate” might well have been the theme of the Girls Read for Girls read-a-thon, organized by my daughter and other Brooklyn young women, inspired by Malala Yousafzai and raising money for The Malala Fund. More than 130 girls & boys read thousands of pages, and raised over $15,000 for girls’ education around the world (you can still contribute here).

Malala was shot by jihadi terrorists, in some ways like those in Paris, threatened by the values of education, freedom, and tolerance. She responded by becoming a champion for girls’ education, for the rights of women and girls around the world, by raising her voice and helping other girls raise their voices.

We can’t fight terrorism with read-a-thons. Still, I’m proud today to have my Jewish daughter from Brooklyn raising her voice, following the lead of a Muslim young woman from Pakistan.

That is something the terrorists will never understand. And why we will prevail.

Hope, not hate.

Also posted at Medium.com

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