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Debbie S.
Democrat MI

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  • Student Success Act—Conference Report—Continued

    by Senator Debbie Stabenow

    Posted on 2015-12-08

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    STABENOW. Madam President, I thank my colleague who just spoke for his vigilance in reminding us how we have to pay attention every single day to what is happening in Iran and to be smart and strategic and let them know we are very serious about pushing back.

    Religious Freedom Madam President, in this country one of our core values is that you can come here and build a better life for yourself and for your family. That is the American dream. Our Nation was founded by people who had that dream, people who dreamt of religious freedom. Many of our ancestors followed that dream to these shores, from the early Puritans and Quakers, Irish and German immigrants, Italian and Jewish immigrants, and so many others. Life was not easy for them. They faced discrimination and even violence by those who were suspicious of them, who saw them as different, who challenged their right to have the American dream. But those Americans worked very hard and built a life for themselves. They raised families and became successful. They opened small businesses and large businesses. They became doctors and lawyers. They served in our armed services. They served as police officers and firefighters. They ran for office. They made amazing contributions to our Nation's economy and culture. They helped make America great.

    That core value, our American dream, is being challenged today. Donald Trump, who is running for President of the United States of America, has suggested that we ban all Muslims from coming into our country based purely on their faith, on their religion. As someone who represents the most densely populated Muslim population in America, I find this suggestion, this statement, to be outrageous and absolutely un-American because I know the rich history that people of Muslim faith have created in my State and the contributions they make every single day to our economy, to our wonderfully diverse culture, and the quality of life in our communities.

    Hundreds of thousands of people from Muslim countries came to southeastern Michigan in the early part of the last century, like so many others from the South and around the country and the world, after Henry Ford offered a $5-a-day wage to work in America's first automobile factories. Those Muslim Americans were still working in those plants during World War II, building the so-called arsenal of democracy--the planes, the ships, the tanks that won the war and defeated the enemies of democracy.

    Many thousands of Muslim Americans have served our Nation during times of war, and many thousands are serving our country right now, at this very moment. They are putting their lives on the line right now for the freedoms we all hold dear. Take a walk through Arlington National Cemetery, and you will see many graves bearing the crescent and star. How can anyone question the patriotism of those Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country? They helped make America great. Those men and women who defended us in the Armed Forces loved America, and they died for America because America is their home, their family's home. So of course they see ISIS as the enemy, just as every non-Muslim American does as well. Their families are the ones who are on the front lines of the violence in the Middle East. Their families have lost their homes, their businesses, and in many cases their lives because of the brutality and violence of ISIS. Their families are the ones fleeing the violence to save their children. Muslim Americans understand that ISIS does not represent Islam.

    Within every religion, there are violent individuals who twist the meaning of sacred texts and symbols to justify acts of violence and murder--every religion. The KKK used blessed symbols of Christianity while terrorizing and murdering African Americans. Just as the Ku Klux Klan does not speak for Christians, ISIS does not speak for Muslims.

    Furthermore, we must recognize that our culture of inclusion and our tradition of welcoming people of different faiths since the beginning of our country are our greatest weapons in defeating ISIS.

    What ISIS desires more than anything else is to see our country discriminate against Muslim Americans so they can use that as a recruiting tool all over social media, which we know they are very effective at doing. They want Muslim Americans to believe that America is not their home, that we do not value their leadership and contributions in our communities, that America does not welcome their faith, and that America hates them. They want that. That cannot be who we are. That is not who we are.

    All of us were shaken by the violence in Paris and San Bernardino, but we know that fear cannot be our guide in America. President Franklin Roosevelt understood that fear makes America weak. America is great when America is united and not pitting neighbor against neighbor, which is happening in too many places in my State and across the country. When we are united and dedicated to our principals of freedom and liberty, we are great. The first liberty of our Constitution's First Amendment is the freedom of worship.

    When I think about the Muslim American children in Michigan who were afraid to go to school today because of what might happen to them after hearing what Donald Trump was saying about them and their families, it makes me sick to my stomach. I want those children to know that his words are not what America stands for. It is not what makes America great. It is not. It is those children--Muslim and Christian and Jewish--all of whom are full of hope and promise for the future who will make America great again, and I stand with them.

    I thank the Presiding Officer.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota.

    Senate Accomplishments Mr. THUNE. Madam President, just a few days ago on the Senate floor, the Senate Democratic leader said: One of the newspapers here has a Pinocchio check, and they look at the facts and analyze them and then they can give up to four Pinocchios meaning people simply didn't tell the truth. . . . So, this is the most unproductive Senate in the history of the country, and there are facts and figures to show that.

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