OPPOSITION TO ANTI-MUSLIM BIGOTRY, DISCRIMINATION AND VIOLENCE
WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers was founded on, among others, the principles of solidarity, equality, opportunity and justice, and those principles have guided our work for more than 100 years; and
WHEREAS, over the course of our history, these principles have led us to fight against racism and religious bigotry, and to protect those who have been targets of discrimination and violence motivated by hate and bigotry; and
WHEREAS, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the AFT and the United Federation of Teachers played an important role in providing teachers with educational tools and resources to fight prejudice and bigotry against Muslims in the United States and to promote an inclusive view of Muslims as part of our pluralist democracy; and
WHEREAS, today, Muslims in the United States continue to be the targets of bigotry, discrimination and violence; and
WHEREAS, according to FBI reports, hate crimes against Muslims in the United States, such as arson of mosques and violence against individuals identifiable as Muslim, have tripled over the last decade, and have risen at a rate that has outstripped the overall dramatic increase in hate crimes since the start of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign of 2015-16; and
WHEREAS, there is good reason to believe that FBI statistics considerably understate the extent of these hate crimes, since they rely upon local law enforcement reports, which are too often incomplete and inaccurate—for example, no hate crime homicides were reported to the FBI from Oregon in 2017, even though a man was indicted for fatally stabbing two Portland men and seriously wounding another after they came to the defense of two Muslim American girls who were being physically threatened by a man shouting anti-Muslim and racist slurs; and
WHEREAS, most recently, during the holy month of Ramadan, a mosque in New Haven, Conn., was seriously damaged by arson, making it one more in a series of Islamic places of worship that have been subject to such attacks; and
WHEREAS, this dramatic increase in hate crimes and acts of discrimination against American Muslims since 2015 is attributable, in significant measure, to the climate created by the inflammatory, hateful rhetoric and discriminatory acts of Trump, both as a presidential candidate and as president; and
WHEREAS, Trump’s campaign calls for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” and his administration’s Muslim travel ban, have been among the acts that have fueled this climate; and
WHEREAS, this climate of anti-Muslim hate has taken on an international character, as seen in the mass slaughter of 51 Muslims in the March 2019 attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, by an individual who declared his support for Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose” in a manifesto explaining his murderous actions; and
WHEREAS, in this post-2015 climate, Muslim students and educators have been the target of an increasing number of incidents of anti-Muslim hate speech, discrimination and violence in our schools; and
WHEREAS, educators in our schools have found the well-being of their Muslim students to be an increasing concern, as these students struggle with questions of self-image and self-worth in the face of attacks on their identity and being; and
WHEREAS, these struggles are compounded for Muslim students by fear, anxiety and depression that the Muslim travel ban could lead to permanent separation from family members and friends, and even be an omen of expulsion from the United States; and
WHEREAS, in this post-2015 climate, the long-standing issue of textbooks and educational materials providing stereotyped, prejudicial portraits of Muslims, reinforcing biased views found in the mass media, has become a more urgent issue for action:
RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers affirms our unequivocal opposition to bigotry, discrimination and violence against Muslims, which is in keeping with our historic legacy of opposing all manifestations of bigotry and racism; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT affirms our solidarity with Muslims in our ranks, and with the Muslim students, patients and citizens we serve. To those who attack them, we say: You have attacked all of us, and we will respond as one; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT condemns the climate of intolerance and hate toward Muslims that has been enabled by the inflammatory and bigoted rhetoric of President Trump and his followers; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT condemns the Muslim travel ban as a policy that is based not in our national security but in prejudice and irrational fear, and that constitutes a violation of our First Amendment protections of freedom of religion for all; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT supports the inclusion of Muslim students in existing protections of the educational civil rights of students from minority and oppressed populations; and
RESOLVED, that through its educational arms and programs, the AFT will continue to disseminate educational materials and resources that provide factual, non-prejudicial information about Muslims and their religious faith, and support the democratic values of inclusion, nondiscrimination and religious freedom for all; and
RESOLVED, that through its educational arms and programs, the AFT will continue to disseminate educational materials and resources that assist teachers in meeting the pedagogical and social-emotional needs of Muslim students; and
RESOLVED, that through its educational publications, the AFT will publish an analysis of textbooks in use in U.S. education that identifies instances in which Muslims and their religious faith are portrayed in stereotyped and prejudicial ways, using inaccurate and incomplete information, and instances in which they are portrayed in accurate, inclusive ways; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT recognizes the need and value of Muslim educators to organize themselves, and affirms the right of Muslim members of the AFT to establish a formal caucus, as members of other religious traditions have done.
Mike Levine, “An ‘Odd’ FBI Case Highlights the Impact of Anti-Muslim Bias in US,” ABC News, March 19, 2019, www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/odd-fbi-case-highlights-impact-anti-muslim-…; and Southern Poverty Law Center, “Hate Crimes Rise for Second Straight Year; Anti-Muslim Violence Soars amid President Trump’s Xenophobic Rhetoric,” Nov. 13, 2017, www.splcenter.org/news/2017/11/13/hate-crimes-rise-second-straight-year….
Maya Berry and Kai Wiggins, “FBI Stats on Hate Crimes Are Scary. So Is What’s Missing,” CNN, Nov. 14, 2018, www.edition.cnn.com/2018/11/14/opinions/fbi-hate-crimes-data-whats-miss….
John Rogers et al., Teaching and Learning in the Age of Trump: Increasing Stress and Hostility in America’s High Schools, UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access, October 2017, www.fcis.org/uploaded/Data_Reports/Teaching_-_Learning_in_the_Age_of_Tr…; and John Rogers et al., School and Society in the Age of Trump, UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access, March 13, 2019, www.idea.gseis.ucla.edu/publications/school-and-society-in-age-of-trump.
Liz Jackson, “Islam and Muslims in U.S. Public Schools since September 11, 2001,” Religious Education 106, no. 2 (2011).