“I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” – Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus” (poem inscribed at the Statue of Liberty)
My slogan is “Limited government, unlimited community.” I want to take a moment to put the emphasis on community. One of the best aspects of living in Irvine is our diversity; in addition to our economic success, we have created a socially inclusive city where people of many different ethnic backgrounds and religions can interact peacefully, exemplified by the success of events like the annual Global Village festival and the OC Solidarity March & Summit (which I hope will become an annual event). This attitude of respect and harmony and the growing membership of our interfaith organizations makes me extremely happy.
Recent events and discussions with the community, however, have highlighted a few key areas in which we can improve; namely, that we can recognize more religious and cultural holidays that are central to the beliefs and practices of our residents, and that there appears to be continued racial or religious profiling in law enforcement surveillance activities. I embrace the Libertarian Party’s official stances on religious freedom, which include:
- “We favor the freedom to engage in or abstain from any religious activities that do not violate the rights of others. We oppose government actions which either aid or attack any religion.”
- We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation.”
First, to address surveillance, I repudiate the practice of targeting religious institutions for surveillance in a post-September 11 world without evidence of wrongdoing, just as I condemn racial and religious profiling in policing. I recently attending the Race & Policing event at UCI, where Shira Scheindlin, the judge who struck down New York’s “Stop and Frisk” policies, gave a moving keynote address about social inclusion in law enforcement. We cannot lay claim to social inclusion if we are singling out religious or racial groups and labeling them as threats. In fact, these practices are a threat to a free society and the basic rights outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
With regard to recognition of religious and cultural holidays, I recently spoke (at 01:45:40) at the City Council meeting to ask them to reschedule their meeting due to the Yom Kippur holiday. Although there was some initial resistance, the council ultimately chose to move the meeting to another date. In order for our community to have a real voice in city decision-making, we must not ask them to take time away from important holidays to speak at our meetings. If elected, I plan to formalize this practice by introducing legislation and to add several additional holidays to the list: Rosh Hashanah, Eid-al-Adha, Eid-al-Fitr, Lunar New Year, and Diwali. I am open to suggestion for additional holidays. As the New York public schools also recognize these special dates, I urge the Irvine and Tustin Unified School Districts and our local universities to do the same. It is so meaningful to me that public institutions recognize my religious holidays, and I am heartbroken that other religions are not afforded the same respect.
As I write this post, the festival of Diwali is bringing our community together in celebration. To all Irvine residents, I wish you love and light. May Lady Liberty’s torch illuminate the way forward!