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07 August 2019
El Paso and Dayton shootings fueled by hate and violation of human rights and values
By Stephen F. Moseley, President, UNA-NCA

       The recent 24 hours of gun violence in El Paso and Dayton, confirms once again that hate speech against immigrants, and aimed at people of color by high political leaders is fueling behavior by American citizens. This violates both our laws and the human rights of people to be free from fear, violence, and persecution because of their race and ethnicity.  In these most recent shootings, by young white men, their motivations appear to build directly on the political rhetoric from conservative and right wing media. Sadly, these events and the increasing rhetoric of hate from our political leaders coincides with this historic moment: The conclusion of the 70th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This Declaration clearly addresses the rights of immigrants and refugees, as well as the rights of all people to receive equal treatment and opportunity to enjoy their personal freedom globally and within the USA. 

       Our responsibility as members of UNA-NCA is to help our citizens and policy leaders to understand the source and history of the human rights declaration that was so thoughtfully crafted with the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, and later adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. The Declaration states in its first three articles as follows:

  • Article l. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
  • Article 2.  Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. 
  • Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

      For too long every outrageous incident of mass killing in public places has been accomplished with legal access to military style assault weapons that are easily obtained.  There are over 400 million weapons in the hands of American citizens and residents in the U.S. It has become clear that the combustion from weapons availability, the rhetoric about racial “invasion”, and the labeling of immigrants as “violent criminals and animals”, directly causes these horrendous incidents. These actions are caused by few people who are prone to believe that they have been given license to take violent actions suggested by their political leaders and hate based websites.

       This issue has grown to be an American epidemic. It requires a greater control of and lesser access to high-powered automatic weapons, more civil rhetoric by our community and policy leaders, and lifelong education about the responsibility of all people to respect each other’s differences in background, race, ethnicity, gender identity and language, all of which make up the unique diversity we should protect and treasure.

       Our 1,000+ UNA-NCA members in DC, Virginia, and Maryland along with the 20,000 UNA-USA members in 200 chapters across the country must stand together with citizens everywhere in schools and civic gatherings. This will foster a full understanding of these human rights principles and our common humanity to prevent violence, control gun ownership, help foster dialogue to counter violent rhetoric, and engender policies nationally and locally to promote a culture of peace in our communities.