Washington, DC, May 3, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today issued a call for a new level of civility in national public discourse, and will be encouraging elected leaders and other public figures to sign on to a statement rejecting appeals to bigotry, racism and prejudice and allow debate on issues of the moment to be "thoughtful and reasoned."
"There is no doubt that the political dialogue in this election year is increasingly divisive and ugly, and with the Arizona immigration issue now taking center stage it is only getting uglier," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The personal attacks, the hateful rhetoric, the calls to bigotry and appeals to violence must stop. Regardless of whether the issue is health care, immigration, bailouts or the budget, we need to rise above the hateful rhetoric and to encourage advocacy that is vigorous but never personal or hostile.
"It is time for our elected leaders to show true leadership, to stand up and to be the first to reject the appeals to bigotry, racism, prejudice and calls to violence," he added.
ADL delegates from across the country will be taking the statement back to their home states and asking national and local elected officials, candidates, civic leaders and media personalities to sign on to the pledge.
The "Statement on Civility in National Public Discourse" was announced during a panel discussion on "Restoring Civility to Passionate, Partisan, Political Debate," at the League's National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. The panel included remarks from David Frum, former Bush speechwriter and author; Wade Henderson, President & CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director, America's Voice; and Mr. Foxman.
Several of the panelists noted the volatile climate that emerged during the health care vote on Capitol Hill, when name-calling devolved into violent brick-throwing attacks on several local congressional offices and racial epithets and threats were waged against several members of the House of Representatives.
The first signatories to the statement are the heads of the two political entities representing the Democratic and Republican Parties within the Jewish community: Ira Forman, CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council, and Matt Brooks, Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
The full text of the statement follows:
STATEMENT ON CIVILITY IN NATIONAL PUBLIC DISCOURSE
We stand together today to call for civility in our national public discourse.
Let our debate on the issues of the moment be thoughtful and reasoned.
Let us look to our elected leaders for leadership, whether or not we support their policies.
Let all of us, across the political spectrum, encourage advocacy that is vigorous and pointed, but not personal or hostile.
We reject appeals to bigotry, racism and prejudice.
We reject calls to violence.
In our national public discourse in 2010, let us cast American democracy in the best possible light.