President Clinton on ADL
and Hate Crime
President Bill Clinton, speaking on October 29 at the 86th annual
ADL National Commission Meeting in Atlanta, praised ADL's work and
pledged to continue pressuring the House of Representatives to pass
an effective Federal hate crimes statute.
"More than anything else tonight, I came here to say 'Thank
you,' " said Mr. Clinton. "Thank you for your commitment
for fighting anti-Semitism and terrorism, and for promoting religious
freedom throughout the world."
The President also spoke of concerns at home, notably the disturbing
trend of hate violence and the deadly summer 1999 attacks against
Jews, Blacks and Asian Americans. "If I could leave America
after my presidency with one wish, it would be to be one America
to revel in our diversity, to respect it, to celebrate it, to enjoy
it, to make it interesting," he said. "You can only really
revel in it if you believe that our common humanity is more important
than the things which make us different.
"Thank you for developing a model hate crimes statute, which
is now the law in 40 of our 50 states. Thank you for helping us
to organize the first-ever White House Conference on Hate Crimes.
Thank you for standing with us to promote excellence and diversity
and equal opportunity . . . .
"Thank you for your pioneering work to filter out hate on
the Internet - which, lamentably, was part of the poison that led
to the tragedy of Columbine High School. Thank you for making a
world of difference, through your A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute,
to teach tolerance on campuses and to law enforcement officials
across our land. I thank you for all that ....
"Isn't it interesting that in this most modern of all imaginable
worlds, with even more breathtaking discoveries just around the
corner . . . that the biggest problem the world faces is the oldest
problem of human society, the fear of the other. We all still continue
to turn aside at the sight of a stranger - people we do not know,
therefore, we do not understand; therefore, we easily fear; therefore,
we easily dismiss and pretty soon dehumanize them after that, how
easy it is to justify violence . . . .
"And so the most urgent task, as we stand on the threshold
of the new millennium, is . . . to build what Congressman (John]
Lewis . . . and before him, Dr. King, called `the beloved community,'
one in which we genuinely love those even with whom we disagree
because we do not fear those who are different. ADL has always stood