Taylor City Council votes to ‘Take On Hate’

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

In recent weeks, Rashida Tlaib has been dismayed by what she calls “an alarming increase in hateful statements about Muslims and reaction towards them.”

That’s why the former state representative is working to spread the word about the Campaign to Take on Hate. The effort — led by the National Network for Arab American Communities, a project of Dearborn-based ACCESS — aims to address bias or discrimination through policy changes as well as shifting perceptions of ethnic and religious minorities.

“Engaging our neighbors and colleagues and public servants like yourselves who are not of Arab descent or of Muslim faith is critical in combating increasingly negative images that are leading to criminal acts of violence against places of worship, schools and now even our homes,” Tlaib told the Taylor City Council on Tuesday night, citing reports of violence across the country.

The panel passed a resolution to support the campaign, which launched last year in Detroit, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The Detroit City Council approved a similar measure last week; Taylor is the second municipality in Michigan to support the campaign, Taylor Councilman Alex Garza said.

West Bloomfield Township officials also are considering a resolution, along with those in Chicago and Los Angeles, Tlaib said.

The city of Taylor’s resolution, which Garza introduced, in part reads: “ ... As public servants we have an even greater responsibility to speak out against discrimination and hatred because when the unacceptable becomes the norm in our society, human rights for all are threatened.”

When a city resident questioned the significance of the move, Angela Croft, chairwoman pro-tem, said: “What we are saying today is that we will not tolerate hate crimes in this city, period — no matter who they’re against and why they happen.”

Take on Hate leaders said the backing is especially needed in the wake of incidents that suggest discrimination — including the slayings of three Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and an alleged arson attack at a mosque in Texas.

Tlaib told the Taylor City Council how after extremists’ deadly attacks in France this year, women who wear the hijab, or traditional head-covering, have reported being spat on or hit.

She also noted how when she and her husband discussed a recent published cartoon that depicted Muslims as Nazis, their 9-year-old son said: “Don’t worry — if anyone asks if I’m Muslim, I will lie and tell them I am not.”

“Allowing our children to grow up fearful of revealing their faith jeopardizes the foundation of our country,” Tlaib said. “We allow the terrorist thugs and murderers (to) win when hate and violence reaches our country because of their horrendous actions.”