I don’t think I’ve posted on my blog since Governor Whitmer appointed me to a four-year term on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. Yeah, that’s my bad for leaving folks hanging so long.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created almost 60 years ago in the Michigan Constitution of 1963. From our website, “The 8-member committee was created to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination in the state. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, genetic information, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.”

I was appointed in June of last year and will serve until December 31, 2025 … and I’m so very honored to be a part of this very important body.

We meet quarterly and our most recent meeting was today (4/24/2023). Part of what we do, from time to time, is adopt resolutions on matters of significance that help direct our staff to take action, or to highlight something that is going on so that the Legislature, the Executive, or Michiganders in general can take notice.

A few weeks back, some state political leaders said some pretty hurtful, practically hateful things in the midst of a debate on a series of bills before the Legislature dealing with gun safety. In response, I shared the following words during our meeting and sponsored a resolution that addresses the matter:

Thank you, Madam Chair and fellow Commissioners. Like many Michiganders, I was shocked and appalled by comments linking the debate on the 2nd Amendment to the Holocaust. And I was sorely disappointed when those comments were challenged how some leaders actually doubled down on the divisive and hurtful rhetoric.

Considering how recent updated FBI hate crimes statistics show a 20 percent increase in antisemitic hate crimes, I am compelled to offer this resolution. I am grateful for the assistance of our General Counsel Lamont Satchel in crafting this language, some of which I pulled from State Senator Jeremy Moss’ floor statement that he gave on this issue earlier this year. I’ll read this language into the record:

Whereas, the Holocaust was the state-sponsored systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during the years 1933 through 1945; and

Whereas, this horrific and unconscionable event resulted in the murder of 6 million Jews; and

Whereas, during the debate on gun safety measures in Michigan, several political leaders and other public figures have deigned to compare the Holocaust as a means to criticize proponents of gun safety legislation; and

Whereas, such comparisons are profoundly hurtful to Jews, many of whom lost family members and friends during the Holocaust and continue to carry deep generational memories of the trauma suffered by their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and others during the persecution of European Jews; and

Whereas, trivialization of the horrors of the Holocaust through offensive and inappropriate comparisons used in an attempt to win a political battle evidences the depth of the deplorable fall of our political discourse and the alarming level of insensitivity to the pain and affliction of others that has come to embarrassingly characterize our public discourse and only serves to perpetuate underlying societal discrimination, hatred and harassment; and

Whereas, the demarcation between right and wrong in the words and actions of our leaders must be clearly defined with adherence to civil and principled actions. Such that, in furtherance of tolerance, civil debate and intentional societal advancement, there must be an embrace of respect for opponents, fellow Michiganders, and those of diverse backgrounds. We recognize this principled approach in those that express respect for Jewish heritage, the memory and humanity of those murdered by the perpetrators of the Holocaust, and whose fidelity to ethics and a moral code of conduct outweighs any selfish agenda and crude political posturing. And we respectfully resist the intolerance of those who are replete with dishonorable actions and snide statements, a careless disregard for those who suffered intolerable cruelty at the hands of the Nazis and who dishonor those who fought valiantly against them in World War II. This mindset must be challenged so that the good people in the state of Michigan and throughout the United States can see where leaders of good conscience, tolerance and dignity stand and where leaders who deal in divisive rhetoric and the politics of polarization fail our democracy; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, that we condemn the use of divisive political rhetoric that uses inappropriate and repugnant comparisons of the Holocaust; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we stand with Michiganders who are committed to uniting people rather than divide them through the use of contemptible and dishonorable Holocaust comparisons as a repugnant political means of addressing serious societal issues that deserve the repose of rational and considerate discussion and debate; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge all Michiganders to avoid using these harmful and abhorrent analogies to advance a political agenda at the expense of eroding the true history and trauma that occurred as a result of the Holocaust and only serves to perpetuate discrimination, hatred and religious division; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be delivered to the Zekelman Holocaust Center and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a symbol of our solidarity with all Michiganders and Americans of Jewish descent.

I’m proud to say that the resolution was adopted unanimously by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission and here’s the names of my fellow commissioners who voted for it:

  • Commissioner Portia Roberson, Chair
  • Commissioner Zenna Faraj Elhasan, Vice Chair
  • Commission Gloria E. Lara, Secretary
  • Commissioner Richard Corriveau
  • Commissioner David Worthams
  • Commissioner Luke Londo
  • Commissioner Rosann Barker

To learn more about the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, check out our website.

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