Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Torch of Liberty Dinner
April 25, 2002

Thank you for that introduction. I am honored to be part of this annual awards dinner.

I congratulate Tom O’Keefe and Tully’s Coffee for their contributions and their commitment to respecting and embracing diversity.

Since its inception in 1913, the Anti-Defamation League has been battling against discrimination of every kind, from the anti-Semitism of the early 20th century, to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, to the challenges we face today.

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “the world is a very dangerous place.” If we ignore the forces of reaction -- either overseas or in our own backyards -- we do so at our own peril.

The hatreds of years past are still with us -- and not just with skinheads -- but now dressed-up and simmering over into the politics of today.

Just look at the shocking success of Jean-Marie Le Pen in France -- a champion of xenophobia and a believer that the Holocaust was a trivial event. Just look at Zacarias Moussaoui, who faces charges in the September 11th terrorist attacks. In a federal courtroom on Monday, he said that he prays for the destruction of the United States and Israel. He said, and I quote, that he “prays for the destruction of the Jewish people and state and for the liberation of Palestine.”

Recently I was honored to sign the Governors’ Declaration of Principles, timed to coincide with Israel’s Independence Day. The declaration reaffirms that America stands with Israel, with peace and with democracy -- that we do not and will not give in to the forces of fear or the agents of terror.

The repulsive voices of anti-Semitism not only sting, but echo throughout the world’s dark corners -- among the extremists and the hate-filled in our country, among the vulnerable and the resentful in our communities. It seems, at times, that racism and anti-Semitism are equal-opportunity scourges.

In fact our values of equality and diversity are tested every day:
  • The Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity has identified more than a dozen white supremacist, anti-Semitic hate groups operating in this state.

  • After September 11, we saw threats to torch an Islamic mosque, vandalism of a Tacoma synagogue, and physical and verbal assaults on many people who looked Middle Eastern or Islamic.

  • People of color, or people who seem otherwise “different,” still face subtle -- and sometimes not-so-subtle -- forms of discrimination and harassment in this state and throughout our nation.

We must never let up on our commitment to make Washington a hate-free state. We must renew that commitment every day and for every generation.
A few weeks ago, I was proud to sign Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2505, making it a crime to train people for the purpose of conducting acts of violence against others. This bill was one of the ADL’s top priorities in the last legislative session. It was designed to give law enforcement another tool to use against organized preparations for violence, while maintaining the protection of free speech that we value so highly. Washington can no longer be viewed as fertile ground for establishing cells of extremist groups. I commend Representative Al O’Brien for sponsoring this new law and Senator Adam Kline for sponsoring the equivalent bill in the Senate.

I also appreciated the ADL’s strong support for my own bill to increase sentences for crimes committed against others because of the victims’ race, religion, sex or sexual orientation. We got that bill through the House thanks to the hard work of Representatives Joe McDermott and Al O’Brien, but it failed in the Senate despite the efforts of Senator Adam Kline and others. We’ll keep working for this bill and other measures to strengthen our laws against hate crimes.

But, more powerful than laws are the values we bring as citizens to everything we do -- the messages we send our children and our fellow citizens. Those values -- respect for diversity, tolerance of different opinions, civility in our relationships, equal opportunity -- make our nation great. But they must be renewed, strengthened and lived every day.

That’s one of the goals of the ADL’s Reducing Adolescent Prejudice Conference, which brought together 350 high school students and teachers last month to learn about bigotry and stereotyping, and how to combat them. Another conference will be held this fall, again in partnership with Tully’s Coffee.

We can all take pride in our progress toward a civil society here in the State of Washington:
  • We have strong civil rights laws, including the law against malicious harassment that I worked on as a young legislator in the 1980s.

  • We have strong values of treating each other with dignity and respect, recognizing the equality of all people before the law, and providing equal opportunity to learn, achieve and succeed.

  • We also value the diversity in our society and the contributions every culture and group makes. We know we cannot afford to overlook the talents and contributions of anyone because of that person’s race, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation or disability.

As we face down the passions and hatreds of the present, we can’t forget the injustices of our past.

Recently on Bainbridge Island, we marked the 60th Anniversary of the internment of Japanese-Americans.

At that ceremony, I said that there is a sacredness to the old ferry landing and the dark beauty of Eagle Harbor: It’s enshrined by 227 innocent men, women and children uprooted and shipped away -- 227 men, women and children who lost their innocence 60 years ago -- as the American creed embodied in Jefferson’s words that “all men are created equal,” was bitterly forsaken.

If efforts to make the site a national monument succeed, families will pause and gather at the Eagledale Ferry Landing this summer to teach their children about the shame of Japanese-American internment, about everything that ground symbolizes. On the East Coast, families go through a similar ritual at Civil War battlefields like Bull Run and Gettysburg. Bainbridge Island is a battlefield of sorts as well, one that’s almost as difficult to imagine and absorb. No bayonets or “rebel yells,” but so many, many broken hearts, broken spirits and broken lives.

We have come a long way from incarceration of Japanese-Americans, from days when teachers slapped our hands for eating non-traditional breakfasts.

I am proud of our community response after 9/11. But the work of the ADL is not done. Indeed, it is needed more than ever.

You know, creating a civil society is not just a job for civil rights groups like the Northwest Office of the Anti-Defamation League, or for corporate leaders like Tully’s Coffee, or for leaders in politics and government. It’s everybody’s job, every day of our lives. Let’s celebrate the progress we have made and renew our commitment to creating the hate-free Washington we all want.

Thank you.
Related Links:
- Washington State Legislature
- Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity
- Bill Information
- Rep. Al O'Brien (D-1)
- Sen. Adam Kline (D-37)
- Rep. Joe McDermott (D-34)
- Tully's Coffee
- Anti-Defamation League

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