A statement released by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) on July 22 called for removal of Peter Kirsanow, a Bush appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR).

Kirsanow, speaking during a USCCR hearing in Detroit on July 19, raised the possibility of internment camps for the mass detention of Arab Americans. According to the ADC statement, “Kirsanow did not condemn this idea, but raised it as a serious and reasonable possibility in the event of future terrorist attacks against the United States.”

Kirsanow blatantly remarked, “if future terrorists come from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights.” It seemed clear that Kirsanow was condoning the internment of Arab Americans in a manner similar to Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants during World War II.

At the hearing, when Arab Americans testified to increased racial profiling and secret immigration hearings that violated their civil rights, Kirsanow was unmoved, arguing that Arab and Muslim Americans should accept the country’s new anti-terrorism laws and complain less about infringements to their civil rights.

Another Bush appointee to the USCCR, Jennifer Braceras, according to one report, retorted that no one has a “constitutional protection against being inconvenienced or embarrassed.” Critics of the Bush administration say that Braceras and Kirsanow were appointed specifically to weaken the USCCR and use it against anti-discrimination struggles.

In a joint letter to Bush, the ADC and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights asked Bush to remove Kirsanow from his post on the Commission. The ADC letter argued that collective blame for the acts of individuals is “unacceptable and un-American.” The letter continued, “It is in the spirit of these vital moral principles that we ask that [Bush] repudiate and disavow the remarks made by Peter Kirsanow … and take steps to remove him from this important position.”

The ADC commented further that while all Americans favor keeping the country safe, “an individual with such views [as Kirsanow’s] has no place on the United States Commission on Civil Rights.” ADC considers Kirsanow’s statements to be a “blot” on the Bush presidency and “an unfortunate distraction from our nation’s united fight against terrorism.”

ADC urged its supporters to call or write the White House to ask that Kirsanow be removed from his position on the USCCR ([202] 456-1111 or president@whitehouse.gov).

The author can be reached at jwendland@politicalaffairs.net

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