After the massive Boston protests against white supremacy, ACT for America – the largest anti-Muslim hate group in the U.S. – decided to back out of its plan to hold multiple rallies in cities all over the nation. The group feared that its events would be overshadowed by successful counter-protests.
But that doesn’t mean ACT has given up. The group is merely taking its extremism online. This weekend, people of goodwill will be responding to it – and Americans United and its allies will be among them.
Religious freedom is about fairness. We don’t treat people differently because their beliefs are different than ours, and we don’t ban people because of their religion. That’s why AU is joining with our coalition partners tomorrow to reply to the rhetoric of ACT for America and its online rally with a #CounterActHate digital rally of our own through Thunderclap, a campaign-organizing social media medium.
“With your help, we want to swamp them [ACT] with a crystal-clear message: bigotry and white supremacy are intolerable,” the Thunderclap reads.
ACT describes their rallies as “America first” rallies, but their message remains un-American. No one should be singled out for discrimination because of their religious beliefs. One of President Donald J. Trump’s policies that ACT supports is the Muslim ban, but the government cannot determine who can enter our country because of what a person believes or doesn’t believe about religion. That betrays American values and violates the Constitution.
AU and allies are countering anti-Muslim hate.
This counter-protest digital rally comes at a time when white supremacists are threatening cultural, racial and religious diversity in America. After the violence in Charlottesville, Va, we strongly condemned white supremacist for their attacks on the many people that our organization fights on behalf of. As we’ve noted before, it’s more important than ever to stand in solidarity with marginalized communities like the Muslim community.
That’s why alongside the digital counter protest, AU is proud to stand with more than 200 organizations to oppose ACT’s hateful actions. On August 23, AU and 200 other organizations sent a letter to mayors of various cities where ACT rallies were scheduled asking them to make it clear that the reject bigotry. The letter urged mayors to issue a statement that sends a strong message that every person is welcome in his or her city and has the right to feel secure regardless of how or if they worship.
“The horrific events in Charlottesville occurred despite a prepared response from state and local officials and law enforcement. Although ACT has removed its endorsement and branding from any rallies that may take place, many of the rallies have already been organized, and may continue with or without ACT’s brand attached,” the letter read. “In light of this possibility, and recent events, we urge you to unequivocally condemn white supremacist and anti-Muslim hatred and make it clear that bigotry and violence are not welcome.”
To be clear, the message of these groups, while ugly and divisive, is protected speech. But that doesn’t mean it should be unanswered speech. We have the right – some would say the duty – to respond to groups that heap hatred on marginalized groups in an effort to make them feel unsafe or unwelcome. The times demand that we reaffirm our support for religious freedom for everyone.
You can join us. Please support the Thunderclap; it will automatically post a tweet on your personal social media accounts. Through social media, continue to spread the word anti-Muslim bigotry is not acceptable in a nation founded on religious freedom. You can also read more about our efforts to fight Trump’s un-American Muslim ban here and join us.