The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) fully supports NLG Michigan member, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. Rep. Tlaib has long worked tirelessly for tolerance and understanding across racial and ethnic lines. She was active in Take on Hate, ACCESS and the International Institute of Metro Detroit. As a member of the Michigan Legislature, board member and then Program Director of the Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center for Social and Economic Rights, and now as an elected member of the US House of Representatives, she has fought for the people of Detroit and surrounding communities – their civil rights, right to thrive and live free from environmental hazards, for community benefits from corporations gaining massive economic tax abatements, and much more.
Ms. Tlaib’s constituents, and all those who know her, know of her warmth, love, and genuine care and concern for all whom she encounters. Thus, the personal and hateful attacks that have been spewed against her by the President must be condemned as foul lies.
As a person of Palestinian heritage, Congresswoman Tlaib is understandably concerned for the well-being of the Palestinian people and outraged by the violation of their rights, including of her family members, by the Israeli government. She is not alone in those concerns. Many others—Muslims, Christians, and an increasing number of Jews—are as well very troubled, many to the extent that they, like Ms. Tlaib and the NLG, support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel until the apartheid is ended. One can strongly condemn the policies of the Israeli government without being anti-Semitic, despite President Trump’s claims.
But of even greater concern is that these lies are rooted in white supremacist ideology. To demand that someone, born and raised in Detroit, be sent back “where she comes from,” is merely another way of saying that a woman of color with power and strongly held opinions cannot be a real American—that she must originate from and hold loyalties that lie elsewhere. To use those lies to goad a foreign government to prevent Congresswoman Tlaib and her fellow Muslim Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, from traveling to Israel and Palestine, can only be described as despicable.
These behaviors arise from a deep antagonism against women of color, indeed all people of color. For the President to openly express views that are so clearly racist is a repudiation of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. Similarly, to forbid the travel of any American, let alone an elected member of Congress, due to her opinions, and to attempt to silence her from expressing those opinions, is a blatant assault on the First Amendment. As such, these actions trumpet a declaration of war against the basic principles of democracy that are essential to this nation’s survival. It must be stopped.
We call upon all who support equality, justice and democracy to speak out in opposition to the growing tide of racism, hate and fascism in this country. We call upon all members of the legal community to expose and condemn the lies being perpetrated against our fellow NLG member and courageous Congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib.
The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
Featured image: Rashida Tlaib being arrested on Woodward Ave in Detroit in solidarity with fast food workers and the D15 campaign. Oct. 10, 2018. Photo by Cece McGuire.