Speaking out together against hate, discrimination and violence

Jeff vonKaenel

The official theme of the Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento and Sacramento Area League of Muslims event held at the SALAM Mosque last Wednesday was “Our Diverse Community Coming Together.”

But the unofficial theme and undercurrent of concern was that a large minority of our fellow citizens just elected Donald Trump as president. He ran a nasty campaign against Mexican-Americans, Muslims, women and his opposition. And now he has the power of the presidency.

So what’s next? What should responsible, progressive people who believe in an America that represents all of its citizens do in a world where Donald Trump is our president? This is certainly what I have been trying to figure out since November 8.

Let me be clear. I do not remember a single speaker ever mentioning the name “Donald Trump.” The speakers included California Assemblyman Ken Cooley, United States Attorney Phillip Talbert, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tom Osborne, numerous religious leaders and several Muslim speakers. But when considering the theme “Our Diverse Community Coming Together” in December of 2016, the specter of Trump is there whether you speak his name or not.

I certainly appreciate that both Talbert and Osborne were willing to take time out to speak at a mosque. In a few weeks, both men will have a new boss. I wonder, will their new boss follow the law of the land? Or will their new boss use the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in a Nixon-like way, violating the law for political purposes?

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the proposed selection for attorney general, has referred to groups such as the NACCP and the ACLU as un-American and has recently said that he was open to Trump’s idea of banning Muslim immigration. That’s not a good sign.

SALAM Chairperson Waseem Bawa said that Muslims believe it is an act of faith to stand with and support any oppressed people. Bawa went on to say, “We must speak out against hate crimes directed at our Sikh friends. We must stand against discrimination and violence directed against the LGBT community. We have to fight for Hispanic families and children who may come under aggressive targeting for deportation. We must vigorously oppose the normalization of misogyny and disrespect of our mothers, sisters and daughters.”

Speaking of his experience serving in the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division with “soldiers from nearly every tribe,” Bawa told us that “an expression we commonly used was ’I got your 6.’ … If [ahead is] your 12 o’clock, then behind you is your 6. So when I say, ’I’ve got your 6,’ I’m saying, “You’ve got nothing to worry about because I’ve got your back.’”

Bawa concluded by saying “We are all God’s children, regardless of tribe. So I say to all of you, ’Come what may, we’ve got your 6.’”

Later in the program, Trinity Episcopal Dean Brian Baker said America has had worse times but we must remember that this is our time, our time to act. Justice can no longer be a hobby, he added later, it must now be a vocation.

The theme was “Our Diverse Community Coming Together.” When our diverse community is under attack, we must say, “We’ve got your 6.”

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.