June 11, 2009

THE HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM RESOLUTION

MR. CARDIN.  Mr. President, I rise today to offer a resolution condemning yesterday's heinous, horrific act of violence at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

I want to offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns.  Officer Johns, of Temple Hills in Prince George's County, Maryland, died in the line of duty.  He ably served as a guard of the Museum for six years.  He was just 39 and leaves behind a grieving family.  He gave his life to save the lives of numerous others.  We must perpetually honor that ultimate sacrifice.  I also want to commend all the staff of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the authorities who responded to the scene for their bravery.

I have visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum many times with my family and friends.  It's clear that the gunman's despicable rampage was intended to frighten and intimidate all people who care about equality and liberty. 

I introduced this resolution to affirm my commitment to ending the bigotry and hatred that led to this heinous act.  There is no place in our society for individuals who would harm or deny rights to others, especially based on religion, race, gender, or ethnic identity.  It is heartening that each and every United States Senator has co-sponsored this resolution.


Let there be no mistake about it, anti-Semitism and other hate crimes remain a pressing problem in our society.  Anti-Semitism spawns from centuries of hatred, persecution, and the repeated attempts to destroy the Jewish people from their early days of slavery through the Inquisition to the Holocaust and beyond.  Hate crimes send a powerful message because they affect more than the individual victims; they are meant to intimidate and instill fear in entire groups of people.   They create a sense of vulnerability and insecurity in others who may share characteristics with the victims.  And that is precisely the intent of those who commit these crimes.

I am privileged to be Chairman of the Helsinki Commission and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  In those capacities and as a U.S. Senator generally, I am afforded numerous opportunities to speak out against the scourge of anti-Semitism, racial bigotry, and ethnic hatred worldwide.  Part of the battle is to publicize the intolerance and hateful activity.  As Oliver Wendell Holmes remarked, "The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of an eye.  The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract."  This resolution is meant to be such a light and I am grateful that each and every other Senator has seen fit to co-sponsor it.  We truly speak as one in our anguish at the tragic event yesterday and in our determination to root out its causes so that it will not be repeated.

Thank you, Mr. President.