Teaneck Councilmembers Kaplan and Pagan Issue Statement Against Hate
Teaneck, N.J. – Teaneck Councilmembers Keith Kaplan and Michael Santiago Pagan issued the following statement today against hate:
“Last night, members of New Jersey’s Hindu community came out to speak against a resolution drafted by the Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee (“TDMC”). Those in attendance heard the speakers indicate how sweeping language in the resolution lumped entire swaths of people into those being denounced. And with the exception of one individual, the vast majority of speakers spoke passionately and from the heart about the peaceful nature of Hindu residents in and beyond our home.
Sadly, the individual in attendance also stated hateful mistruths about Muslim people in India, the United States and around the world. Because of the audio, these comments didn’t come through clearly when they were made, but we want to thank the members of our Teaneck community who took the time to transcribe what he said. What was said is wrong, and we and our fellow councilmembers disavow the hate-filled speech.
As brief background, during a parade in Edison, NJ celebrating the anniversary of Indian Independence Day, a group seeking to incite fear and hostility brought a bulldozer (which serves as a symbolic nod to hatred against Muslim groups within some extremist communities). The move was appropriately condemned far and wide here in NJ. We condemn it as well.
Unfortunately, the TDMC resolution at issue, did not specifically refer to only the perpetrators of this incitement, but it was felt by some to condemn all Hindus, which encompasses many peaceful members of our larger community here in Bergen County and beyond.
Similar issues have arisen when denouncing perpetrators of other types of violence. It’s wrong and we know it’s hurtful to the people of Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and other backgrounds in our community that strive to live our ideals every day. We must never forget that an individual or a fringe group does not speak for an entire people.
Effective communication involves speaking and listening to each other, and our words matter. The way a message is received can be of great significance and the good intentions of the speaker are lost.
To ask the TDMC as to why they choose these words is appropriate and we wish they had chosen more specific and deliberate wording. We hope they understand why members of the Hindu community felt hurt by their statement and were compelled to come out last night.
Just as we did on the day we were sworn in, we proclaim: Hate has no home in Teaneck!
We celebrate our diversity. We know that when we focus on the bonds of commonality we share, we can Keep Moving Teaneck Forward Together.”