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NASW Arizona Condemns Trump’s Charlottesville Comments in Advance of Visit to Arizona

NASW Arizona Condemns Trump’s Charlottesville Comments in Advance of Visit to Arizona

PHOENIX, AZ—The following statement was sent to NASWAZ members and news outlets on August 20, 2017 regarding President Trump’s comments on events in Charlottesville, VA and in advance of visits to Yuma and Phoenix, AZ.

The Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent comments by President Trump equating Neo-Nazi, white supremacists, and other hate groups with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, VA. The facts and history do not support President Trump’s statements. 

Our conscience and knowledge as social workers challenge such an ahistorical representation and view of the state of racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, and misogyny of this country. 

The facts of the matter are that white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK showed up in a college town with lit torches, guns, shields, bats, paramilitary uniforms and regalia, flags with racist symbols, and inciting speech. Many of these are historically documented symbols and tactics used to intimidate and control African Americans and other people.

The vehicular homicide of a young woman and the injury of 19 in Charlottesville combined with the sight of torches in Virginia reenacts dreaded historical scenes for African Americans, especially, and is a painful history of racial violence with impunity. To describe the motivations and actions of white supremacists and protesters of hate groups in a similar light disregards US history and replicates the omission of appropriate blame and accountability by elected officials. 

Regardless of our race, political affiliation, socioeconomic class, religion, or sex, these facts should alarm us.  We have not yet achieved full democracy and equality. But the President’s statements and actions do not inspire us to equality and freedom, human dignity and human rights. His words rather empower those set on hatred, oppression, and inequality. 

Our Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, have condemned white supremacy, racism, and violence in contrast to the President’s words and actions. Mayor Stanton of Phoenix has asked the President not to come to Phoenix in this time of mourning and reflection on the events in Charlottesville. 

We applaud our Senators for their rejection of the President’s approach. We support Mayor Stanton call to the President to not come to Arizona. We urge the President to not further inflame hatred and divisions by coming to Arizona and stoking the flames of bigotry by pardoning former Sheriff Arpaio. 

As social workers and members of our society, we challenge the President to be a leader who heals the divisions in our society. We ask the President to reject white supremacists’ creed he is endorsing by statements of equivalency and support. 

We urge all our colleagues to contact your elected officials to ask them to speak out against the President’s words and tone regarding groups that endorse racism and historical hate. We urge you all to speak with your friends and family members and urge them to contact their elected officials.

Our country needs leaders that inspire healing, unity, and equality. The call of justice and unity must begin with our recognition of our shared humanity and the human rights we all share in this great land.   

Jeremy Arp, MSW, ACSW, Executive Director and Patrick Shockley, MSW, President on behalf of the Board of Directors of Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers

Selected relevant sections from the NASW Code of Ethics:

The second value in the Code states:

Ethical Principle: Social workers challenge social injustice.  Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers’ social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice. These activities seek to promote sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in decision making for all people. 

In the Social and Political area, the Code specifically states:

6.04 (c) Social workers should promote conditions that encourage respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States and globally. Social workers should promote policies and practices that demonstrate respect for difference, support the expansion of cultural knowledge and resources, advocate for programs and institutions that demonstrate cultural competence, and promote policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social justice for all people. 

(d) Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.