February 28, 2017
President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Trump,
On behalf of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I want to express profound concern over the level to which interethnic hatred has risen in the last year. Sad to say, racial prejudice and interethnic antagonism have always been a part, albeit often hidden, of the fabric of American life.
That said, rhetorical violence and, in some cases physical violence, have emerged in overt and powerful ways in recent months, especially where Muslims are concerned, admittedly exacerbated by violent acts on the part of a few people sympathetic to radical forms of Islam.
Moreover, this kind of hate-borne violence is now manifesting itself in what appears to be an overt reemergence of the anti-Semitism that has been such a blot on the face of America for so long. The senseless attacks on Jewish cemeteries are only the most obvious examples.
These acts of hate-borne vandalism bespeak a deeper, deadlier hatred that is the sort that led to fascist crimes against humanity decades ago. Among the most frightening aspects of that history is how many “regular” citizens were either oblivious to or “chose not to know” what was happening to Jews, homosexuals, and others who were “different.” And, if we are honest, it is not dissimilar to the experience of many Black Americans and other people of color here in the United States for generations.
In the face of our current realities, where hatred and prejudice have become all too evident, it is imperative that we, the people, be able to look to our leaders to bear witness to the best that is in us, to lift up the promise of our Statue of Liberty that all are welcome, and to speak in ways that unite us rather than divide us.
You, as our president, are elected to be a living symbol of our unity as a people, and to remind us with regularity that even the least among us is of as much value as the most prominent. On behalf of our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) community, we urge you to condemn all forms of prejudice against Jews, Arabs, and all who are seen as “different” and make clear that you and all the leaders of our nation are committed to the healing of our divisions, so that our future as a nation can be one of justice for all and peace for all our communities.
Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)