Michael Yaki, a former member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who is awaiting reappointment, tells TPM he’s planning to propose the federal body examine the rise of anti-Islam and anti-Arab discrimination in America once he rejoins the agency.
“As you may recall, this was a topic I have been concerned about for years and referenced the lack of attention to issues such as this in my denunciation of the amount of time and effort we spent on the New Black Panther investigation,” Yaki wrote in an e-mail. “Rep. King’s hearings have only increased, I believe, the importance of this topic, especially as we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11.”
Yaki told TPM in an interview that he’s spoken to a number of his colleagues on the Commission about his plan, some of whom agree this would be an important and timely topic.
“I don’t believe that fighting the war on terror and protecting civil liberties should be conflicting or competing goals,” Yaki said. “I have a particular sensitivity to this as you might imagine because 70 years ago, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese American community on the West Coast — one of whom was my father — were condemned, uprooted and incarcerated in some of the bleakest parts of our country.”
“Now I don’t think that experience can or would be repeated today. But in that case the ethnic or in this case the religious identity of a particular group shouldn’t cast that entire group under suspicion, and that’s precisely what I believe Rep. King’s hearings are going to do.”