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FIGHTING HATE // TEACHING TOLERANCE // SEEKING JUSTICE
MARCH 18, 2017

Good morning.

Last Sunday, Republican Congressman Steve King tweeted out in part:

We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.

King was commenting on a political cartoon featuring the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose entire platform is built around demonizing Muslims and refugees. Wilders' party fell short in the Dutch parliamentary elections Wednesday.

The rhetoric about "our civilization" being under attack and the threat of "somebody else's babies" is blatantly white nationalist and, as Congressman John Lewis said, "bigoted and racist."

That King was not thoroughly rebuked by the Republican Party, and that he stood by his comments and even added to them in followup interviews, shows that this type of political appeal, once relegated to the fringe, is becoming increasingly accepted in the U.S. and Europe.

But it's also built on myths.

The fear of foreigners, the belief that refugees and immigrants are dangerous, the desire to keep them out — none of these things are new. But as our Teaching Tolerance project wrote this week in an updated post, these fears are often based on misinformation and lies.

It's a myth, for example, that immigrants don't want to learn English. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 56% of first-generation immigrants speak English "well" or "very well," and the demand for English instruction actually far outstrips supply.

It's a myth that immigrants are violent or criminal. According to a new report by The Sentencing Project, immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born citizens. Higher levels of immigration may even have contributed to the historic drop in crime rates, researchers say.

In the run-up to both Muslim bans, perhaps the most widely circulated myth has been that refugees are not screened before entering the country, that banning them will keep the U.S. safe from terror.

But we know that refugees undergo more rigorous screenings than any other individuals the government allows in the U.S., and we know that no deaths in the U.S. have been attributed to people from the countries covered by either executive order in the last 30 years.

All of these myths, however far-fetched, are based on the same dangerous falsehood: that immigrants and refugees are somehow not like us. That they're not students in search of an education. That they're not families trying to make ends meet. That as "somebody else's babies," they don't belong here.

The strongest antidote to these myths are sharing facts and stories of immigrants like the above. They're our neighbors, our friends. They're Americans.

And they belong here.

As always, thank you for reading.

The Editors

P.S. Here are a few other articles from this week that we think are worthwhile reads:

The reclusive hedge-fund tycoon behind the Trump presidency by Jane Mayer, The New Yorker

Why immigrants in California are canceling their food stamps by Greg Kaufmann, The Nation

If you’re a poor person in America, Trump’s budget is not for you by Steven Mufson and Tracy Jan, The Washington Post

Top Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka denied a report that he belongs to a Nazi-allied group by Talal Ansari and Lissandra Villa, BuzzFeed

Watch Concert For America: Stand Up, Sing Out! for free via Facebook Live and on ConcertsforAmerica.com at 9pm EDT on Monday, March 20, 2017. The SPLC gets 1/5 of the proceeds from the live show!

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