Posted on August 08, 2019 in Countdown

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A Tragic Weekend

31 people were killed in two mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, with one of those shootings motivated by white supremacy. These killings occurred just before the 7th anniversary of the Oak Creek mass shooting, where a white supremacist killed 6 people in a Sikh temple. While the public debates guns and mental health and everything else (all legitimate areas of debate), we want to draw attention to the hateful political rhetoric that has emboldened violent white supremacists to act on their hatred. While the President did condemn white supremacy in his statement on the shootings, that statement is at odds with his rhetoric over the years: from suggesting ‘very fine people’ were among the white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, to proclaiming that four women of color in Congress should ‘go back’ to the ‘crime infested places from which they came,’ and beyond. At present, the President’s re-election campaign has run over 2,000 political ads on Facebook using the term ‘invasion’ with respect to immigration, language that the El Paso shooter himself allegedly invoked. This is what has to be called out by every American who values unity and stability in our country.

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Tapping All the Wrong Keys

While discussing President Trump’s white supremacist incitement against immigrants, CNN’s Jake Tapper managed to contort the conversation to work in a dig at Palestinians, drawing a comparison between the “tone set in the Arab world, Palestinian leaders and the way they talk about Israelis… validating this hatred.”  As a matter of technicality, there are some Palestinians who preach hate, but there are also countless Israeli leaders who preach hate (just watch this video and see). The question for Tapper is this: Of all potential examples of incitement that exist in the world, why specifically pick on an oppressed population living under Israeli occupation and apartheid for an analogy of this kind? Why reinforce that trope that Palestinians have a culture of hate? This ugly trope, by the way, is specifically used to get Israel off the hook for its decades of oppression against Palestinians. When Arab American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib called out Tapper’s tying of the Palestinian struggle for equality with white supremacist incitement, Tapper responded by gaslighting Tlaib, claiming he never said anything of the sort. Too bad for Tapper, he is already on record saying in more explicit terms that BDS advocacy is the sort of thing you’d see in a white supremacist publication. By the way, remember when Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN for remarks about Palestine. Yeah, just a random, totally unrelated thought.

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When Washington Gets Things Right (The Other Washington)

Let’s play a game of, Who Said That? “Not a soul has registered today. It’s going smoothly.” Any guesses? That’s a quote from Mason County Election Auditor Paddy McGuire, in Washington State (that was a hard one, we know). If you were taken aback by her celebration of poor voter registration numbers, rest assured this is a positive sign in their state (not a joke). Last year we told you about the strides states like Washington were making by instituting Automatic Voter Registration. Since then, Washington has only amped up its commitment to voter access by instituting same-day voter registration and a new statewide voting system, VoteWA, to streamline the process for both voters and administrators. This program was a one-stop shop for folks who needed support on election day. Many voters who needed that support cited a great experience. Despite some concerns about the rollout of VoteWA, the low voter registration numbers are a sign the new system and AVR are working together well because few people needed in-person support to register, update their information, or get a ballot. If you’re keeping score, Washington state now has vote-by-mail, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and a secure, easy-to-use online system that actually solves voters’ problems. Sounds to us like they’re leading in the race to modernize elections, and we stan a good voting system (what’s “stan?” Ask your kids).

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Democracy’s Building Blocks

Yesterday was the 54th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, one of the most significant pieces of legislation for securing the right to vote for all Americans. To mark this occasion, and to bring attention to setbacks in voting rights since the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder U.S. Supreme Court decision, rights advocates around the country gathered to remember the struggles which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and to call on Congress to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act. AAI was featured at the DC event (we showed up with Yalla Vote shirts and all), joined by organizations such as the League of Women Voters, League of Conservation Voters, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Speaking at the event, AAI Policy Counsel Ryan J. Suto highlighted how Arab Americans have faced combative government officials and illegal scrutiny when attempting to obtain and submit absentee ballots. Sometimes we get lost in sexier debates around the state of our democracy, but voting rights are the fundamental building blocks of democracy, and we can’t afford to overlook them.

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Census Operations Underway

Do you ever feel small and insignificant in this world? Well, don’t! Because no matter what the haters tell you, you absolutely count, friends.  In fact, starting this week, Census workers could be knocking on your door (yes, you!), as they do their final round of address canvassing to ensure the Bureau knows how many addresses are in use (meaning people live there) to ensure that absolutely everyone is counted in 2020. We know, we know, you thought the 2020 decennial Census count was underway and you got excited (sorry if we got your hopes up prematurely). While the Census has not begun, you can channel that excitement elsewhere… by getting involved with the YallaCountMeIn campaign! We are personally inviting you to get out the count of Arab Americans in 2020, so join today.