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Stand beside your neighbors, embrace the diversity

Our hearts broke for the people of Paris, Colorado Springs, and San Bernardino after the attacks in their respective cities. Our hearts broke further as we watched the wave of anti-Muslim speech rise across the nation, carried forward by preposterous rhetoric from some political candidates and apologists for gun violence who promote unfettered access to guns and ammunition of all types.  

The most heartbreaking of all are those thousands of people who call themselves Americans, yet seemingly reject the values that bind us as American.

America is a nation of immigrants; built from the ground up by people who come to this land to seek freedom from persecution and to practice whatever faith they hold without interference. Yet, as we have become settled, we have made it more difficult for immigrants to become accepted as though those who sit in judgment have forgotten their own origins.

At the Human Rights Council of Washington County our mission is to promote respect and dignity of all by supporting a community where every person is valued; and equity and diversity are embraced through action, advocacy, education and collaboration.

 We reject the ideas that too many are espousing. We do not believe that division makes us safe nor that refusal of immigrants on the basis of their religion alone is an acceptable foreign or domestic policy.

We reject the belief that having more guns and fewer laws restricting them will prevent more innocent people from being murdered while going about their daily lives. We reject the political pandering to the extremists and the willingness to use violent tragedies for political gain.

We believe in promoting empathy, understanding and support. We believe in policies that unify, show respect and honor the struggle we all share in order to co-exist on our planet.  

We say to Muslims in Washington County: You are our neighbors, friends, students and co-workers. You serve in our government, in our armed forces, in law enforcement and as community leaders.  Though you may have come here because of war, conflict and disaster in your home countries, your presence here is our gain; and we all benefit greatly from your contributions to our community.  

We stand beside you as our brothers and sisters, knowing that America is strongest when we embrace our differences, working together to make racism, hate and violence cower in the strong light of love and hope.  

We call for our county, our state, and our country to stand with us all.

Joelle Davis is past chair of the Washington County Human Rights Commission and a Tualatin City Council member.

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