Mayor Fischer's speech for the Rally for American Values
Mayor Greg Fischer's prepared remarks for the Rally for American Values on Jan. 30 at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville:
Thank you all for coming.
When we decided to hold this gathering, we knew we should do it at the Ali Center.
Muhammad Ali provided us all with an inspiring example of courage, conviction and compassion. This native son of Louisville once said, “If you love God, you can't love only some of his children.”
Can I hear an Amen?
We stand here today and raise our voices in support of the millions of patriotic Americans who left their native countries and now make their homes in Louisville and cities around the country.
These are people who start businesses, join PTAs, pay taxes and make valuable contributions to their communities.
And last week’s travel ban on anyone entering the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries runs counter to the America we know and love: a strong, courageous, outward-looking, multicultural nation.
It’s our fundamental American values that truly make our country great: Equality. Justice. Opportunity. The rule of law, and the checks and balances that separate the greatest democracy in human history from countries whose experiments with freedom collapsed into tyranny and oppression.
The United States of America is the most powerful country on Earth in terms of our military, our economy, our public and private institutions, our already formidable ability to secure our homeland, and our influence on the world stage.
But America’s greatest strength is not our capacity to intimidate, it is our ability to inspire.
This country was founded and formed by immigrants and their children. And for 240 years, America has drawn many of the best, brightest and bravest from around the world, and made a home for them and their families.
In our city, we’re honored by the contributions of our immigrant community. People like …
Marta Miranda. She’s the president and CEO of the Center for Women and Families. And part of Kentucky’s large and growing Cuban community, the Kentubanos.
Dr. Muhammad Babar, a physician originally from Pakistan. Dr. Babar is one of our city’s and our nation’s strongest advocates for compassion and understanding among people of different faiths.
And Dr. Alex Gerassimides - my wife. Her parents are Greek immigrants who fled civil war in their own country to come to America.
Immigrants of all faiths and nationalities are a valuable part of our community, and their work in an increasingly global world, their presence and connections to other countries, are even more valuable.
I spent most of my career building businesses. That’s where I learned that to be the best at spurring innovation and growth, it’s essential to have input from people with diverse and global backgrounds.
My team and I embrace that same global mindset at Metro Government. That’s why Louisville is a welcoming city, where we owe much of our population growth to the foreign-born -- with Latinos leading the way.
Es importante que seamos unidos – It’s important that we are all united!
And we’ve taken action - establishing our Office for Globalization in 2011 to provide foreign-born Louisvillians with access to programs, services and opportunities for success.
Compassion is one of our city values. And in Louisville, we define compassion as having respect for each and every person so they can reach their full human potential.
Part of reaching that full potential is being safe and secure in your home and community. That’s why LMPD is focused on public safety, and why we will not divert resources from that vital work to anything that will not make our city safer.
LMPD does not have the authority to enforce federal immigration laws. And LMPD does not arrest people on the basis of their immigration status.
In Louisville, our compassion extends to our immigrant brothers and sisters from all countries and all religions. We also know that if the freedom of one group is compromised today, then we are all at risk tomorrow.
Yes, there are threats to our country – like ISIS and Al-Qaeda and other groups – and we should continue our offensive against them – not their victims – most of whom are Muslims themselves!
The fact that they may share a religion or nationality does not justify a shared indictment.
As a white Christian American man, I certainly hope that people don’t look at me and assume there is no meaningful difference between me and people like Timothy McVeigh, Dylann Roof or David Duke.
We owe that same respect to our Muslim neighbors and colleagues. We owe that same respect to our Latino friends and families. We owe that same respect to everyone - not to stereotype or generalize based on ethnicity.
Because in a country founded on the principle that all men are created equal, we should all be judged, in the words of Dr. King, by the content of our character.
And let’s understand something else. The economic prosperity we’re experiencing here in Louisville and in many parts of the country, simply isn’t reaching everyone the way it should. Some people are struggling. And that leads to frustration and anxiety.
But we have to face that reality together. And understand that our city must support both foreign-born and native-born Louisvillians.
The future has room for all of us. And we need everyone on board. That means we have to talk to each other, listen to each other, and respect each other.
Because this is a pivotal moment - a decision point, where we will determine the course of our country and our world.
Economic, social and technological changes present us with opportunities and challenges unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
That’s why gatherings like this do matter: It’s our duty to show our love for our country by reminding our country’s leaders that we fiercely believe in the American dream – for everyone. And we will not rest until it’s open to all.
America must rise to this moment and lead global alliances that benefit people of all faiths and nations.
In this compassionate city, in the hometown of Muhammad Ali, we proclaim, with one voice, that we embrace our shared, global future.
In Louisville, we stand together. We work together. And we rise together.
(Image credit: Courier-Journal)