Responding to Charlottesville
In the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville, and what I feel was the President’s troubling and wrong response, I wanted to write to you to speak about our path forward in these challenging times. As your Representative in Congress, I have spent the past several months fighting back against these divisive and harmful ideas.
Like many, I have been deeply disturbed by the President’s policies that I feel attack and demean minorities, immigrants and others who have historically been discriminated against. Seven months into his Presidency, the President's policies in my opinion have continuously appealed to our nation’s worst instincts and prejudices. I wish that these type of comments were something new, but for anyone following our political discourse these days, they are sadly not. His recent statements regarding the events in Charlottesville, in my opinion, have only added more fuel to the fire and are simply unacceptable for the President of the United States of America.
In my opinion, his statements give solace not to those who have been historically oppressed, but to those who stand in support of white supremacy and racism. This type of rethoric appears solely to promote fear over hope, hate over love, and division over unity. It is not an agenda that I support, and it is one that is deeply hurtful to the people of the Bronx, New York City, and our nation. I am also worried that his statements will mean that our federal guardians of fairness, like the Department of Justice, will be less inclined to fight against hate, bigotry, and extremism. We have seen troubling actions taken by the Department of Justice to undermine affirmative action and civil rights even before his comments in response to the Charlottesville tragedy.
As the Ranking Democrat of the Appropriations Subcommittee with oversight responsibility for the budget of the Department of Justice, I am keeping a close watch on that agency’s work and commitment to protecting those who have traditionally been discriminated against. I am fighting to make sure that the Department of Justice has the resources to protect civil rights, fight back against hate, and continue the progress made under President Obama in making our country a fairer, better place. It is an uphill battle, but one that is important and necessary for the Bronx. When Congress returns after Labor Day, we will be debating these, and many other issues, on the floor during consideration of a funding bill for the full federal government. I hope that, in the wake of Charlottesville, Republicans and Democrats alike take time to recommit ourselves to the fundamental issues of fairness, tolerance, and justice in our nation. The appropriations bill that we will be considering is a good place to start.
I believe the President has lost the trust of many Americans. When we come back from recess next week, I am ready to continue fighting against efforts to undo all that we have achieved over the past 50 years.
José E. Serrano