August 17, 2017
We are writing to publicly demand the removal of Congressman Lee Zeldin from the US Holocaust Memorial Council (USHMC) in Washington, D.C.. As a member of the USHMC, as a steward of our collective memory of atrocity, Lee Zeldin has a responsibility to work towards ensuring that identity-based hatred has no place in our society.
Lee Zeldin is failing in this primary responsibility. His official, tepid statement1 about the hate rally this weekend in Charlottesville is unacceptable in its failure to call out Nazi and white nationalist movements as the cause of the violence. Instead, he effectively put Nazis and those opposing Nazis on equal footing, calling them both “ extremes that try to tear us all apart.” Most recently, Rep Zeldin has come out to support Trump’s defense of the white supremacist mob2. While elected officials from both parties reacted immediately to condemn the president’s false equivalency as logically and morally reprehensible, as dangerous for our country, and a threat to democracy, Rep Zeldin placed himself on the wrong side of history. In Zeldin’s willingness to spread blame across white supremacist groups and those who oppose them, he gives outright license to the white supremacist cause and actions.
The Nazis are hearing these messages loud and clear. David Duke praised the president’s reaction. Neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer said: “Trump comments were good… He said he loves us all. Also refused to answer a question about white nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”
Americans all over the country are relying on our leaders to name and condemn identity-based hate immediately and in no uncertain terms. We are relying as well on institutions like the US Holocaust Memorial to uphold its mission to remind us of what happens to a democratic country when hate is used as the fastest route to power. It is unacceptable to condone—implicitly, through silence, omission, inaction, delayed action, or false equivalencies—acts of hate, while sitting on a board committed to protecting against them. Representative Zeldin should be removed from the US Holocaust Memorial Council until he acts with the integrity that the office demands by
1) demanding that Trump disavow Neo-Nazis, skinheads, the KKK, white nationalism, and fire White House staff who are allies to the alt-right,
2) demanding funding to fight white nationalism,
3) defunding Trump’s anti-immigrant budget proposals, and
4) protecting our immigrant friends and neighbors from deportation.
Please sign the following petition: https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/remove-congressman-lee?source=c.em&r_by=18002441
Mara Gerstein, Show Up Long Island
Amy Turner, Zeldin Watch (PEER NYPAN)
Eileen M. Duffy, Let’s Visit Lee Zeldin
David Posnett MD, Resist and Replace
Chris Cangeleri, Organize, Plan, Act
Shoshana Hershkowitz, Suffolk Progressives
Julia Z. Fenster, ATLI, Action Together Long Island
Vincent Geary, Indivisible Patriots of Long Island
Susan Perretti, NCPG, North Country Peace Group
Rebecca Dolber, EEAN, East End Action Network