It's Important To Fight Noxious Seeds of Hatred
On December 14, 2016, The City Council of Morgan Hill, a community at the southern tip of Silicon Valley, California, under the leadership of Mayor Steve Tate issued a Statement of Support and Assurance to its residents. Acknowledging that many of the city’s residents are foreign-born and thus fearful that changes in immigration rules or its enforcement could separate families, the city reaffirmed that among other things, its police force will not be used for federal immigration law enforcement. Instead its priority is “to maintain the trusting relationship … [the force has] with our community.” It went on to declare in no uncertain terms that the City would not tolerate any hate crimes, and that foremost among our community’s ethical values is respect.
The full resolution is appended below.
The City’s resolution was issued on December 14, last year, long before the tumultuous national events of the past week. Since then the Mayors of other cities including Boston, New York and San Francisco have issued similar declarations; likewise, the Governors of California and Washington State.
As a longtime physician in Morgan Hill, I was inspired by my civic leaders’ reaffirmation of and recommitment to our shared core values. Below is my commentary, published in the Morgan Hill Life, February 1, 2017 issue.
At this time in U.S. history, it's important to fight 'noxious seeds of hatred'
At a time when our nation is gripped with fear and hysteria, some of the leaders in our nation's capital are content letting the noxious seeds of hatred and distrust take root in and soil our beautiful landscape. Our founders had anticipated this, hence their wisdom in asserting that the government closest to the people governs best.
Testament to that wisdom is the City of Morgan Hill's “Statement of Support and Assurance to the Morgan Hill Community” voted on unanimously by council members Dec. 14. It reaffirms the commitment to making our city “well respected and inclusive.” Respect for all our residents is foremost among our values.
The board members of our South Valley school districts have also unanimously passed declarations affirming human rights for immigrants. The Gilroy Unified School Board voted January 26 to declare that its schools are in “a sanctuary district,” and the Morgan Hill Unified School Board voted January 17 to adopt a resolution declaring its schools are “safe havens” for students and their parents.
Having lived and practiced as a surgeon here for nearly four decades, I, like many others, have taken those values for granted. And rightfully so. We demonstrate every day those values of tolerance and inclusivity, both as individuals as well as a society.
When the young girl Sierra LaMar disappeared, we shared in the grief. Many volunteered in the search and to support her family. They still do, years later. When our high school marching band won national awards, and performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, we shared in the reflected glory. We congratulated those talented students and their dedicated teachers.
Our community has an active interfaith organization, well represented with members and leaders of the various faiths, that meets regularly. We build bridges, not erect walls between us.
As individuals and as a community we do not claim to be angels, nor have we been angelic at all times. Nonetheless, when we see the noxious seeds of hatred and bigotry attempting to sprout, we act fast, as we did with the race-tainted hooliganism at our school.
The crucial message was sent out quick and clear to the young and adults alike. Our community will not tolerate such nonsense even if manifested as a prank.
Neither we nor our nation claim to have it right all the time. A casual reading of our history would disabuse us of that smugness. We dehumanized a subset of humanity in our midst because of their skin color. We disenfranchised half of our citizens based on their sex. More recently, we incarcerated a whole group of people based only on suspicion because of their ethnicity and national origin.
In all those instances, there were elegant and sophisticated contemporary commentaries defending those odious actions. Their sophistry could not hide nor justify the basic inhumanity and ugliness of those deeds.
While we may not have done everything right, there is one ideal we are committed to. That is “to strive for a more perfect union,” as stated with such elegant brevity in the Preamble to our Constitution, and to give full inclusive meaning to that other simple phrase, “We, the people.”
Those ideals notwithstanding, never underestimate the ability of one individual to wreak havoc. An idiot with a matchstick could burn down a whole town, what more a leader with access to the nuclear code.
Back to the idiot, he could only do mischief if he had access to a matchstick, the town littered with dried tinder, and it did not have a functional fire department. As residents, it is our duty to keep the metaphorical matchsticks out of the reach of potential mischief-makers, maintain a clean environment, and have our fire department in top form.
I have great faith in our civic leaders, institutions and shared values. The city’s statement is testament to that faith. I commend Mayor Steve Tate and the Morgan Hill City leaders for reasserting and reassuring us that our core values remain steadfast.
Bakri Musa is a longtime area surgeon and former president of South Valley Islamic Community.
First published in Morgan Hill Life, February 1, 2017 (www.morganhilllife.com)
At the City Council meeting on December 14, 2016 the City Council affirmed the following Statement of Support and Assurance to the Morgan Hill Community.
To Morgan Hill Residents,
Recent national events have triggered some negative impacts in many Morgan Hill residents; fear and uncertainty about their well-being and their status in our community and country. The Morgan Hill City Council and staff want to reassure our residents that we will stand up for all of them.
Many of our residents are foreign-born and fear that changes in immigration rules or enforcement could separate their families. There are also concerns about proposed federal registries of community members of the Muslim faith. And the recent nationwide spike in hate crimes is causing even more fear. Here in Morgan Hill, we cannot control the events in Washington, D.C., but we can do much to care for each other here at home. We want to assure you that:
Hate Crimes will not be tolerated in Morgan Hill
Our Police Department is committed to enforcing laws against commitment of hate crimes without regard to the immigration status of the victim or reporting party. Please report all incidents to the Police Department at 408-779-2101.
Our Police will not be used for federal immigration enforcement
Changes to immigration laws and enforcement are the responsibility of federal policy makers. Local police should not be involved in federal immigration enforcement and our Police Officers will continue to focus their time on high priority crimes. In accordance with best practices of local law enforcement professionals nationally, we will stay out of immigration enforcement. Our priority is to maintain the trusting relationship Morgan Hill Police Officers have with our community.
Anyone who witnesses or is a victim of any crime can contact the Police Department without fear of inquiry regarding their immigration status.
Your Constitutional rights will be protected
We cannot know if assertions made during national campaigning -- like Muslim registries -- will come to fruition. We will monitor any proposed legislation or executive actions from Washington and work closely with our national, state and local representatives, other cities, and if necessary, the courts, to protect the Constitutional rights of our residents.
Discrimination based on race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, color or disability is prohibited under federal and/or state law. We will protect the rights of all our residents, regardless of background or sexual orientation.
Morgan Hill residents are highly ethical; we have a set of ethical values that are fundamental to the character of our community. Foremost among the ethical values is respect. Because we respect those we interact with, we treat them honestly, fairly and responsibly. In this time of uncertainty and fear, we encourage all our residents to maintain a high level of respect in all their interactions.
Thank you for making Morgan Hill a well respected and inclusive community.