"Salt Lake County Republican Chairman Chad Bennion was even more blunt, calling Gill’s record "weak" and suggesting the D.A.’s upbringing in India, where Gill has discussed witnessing injustices, may be tainting his current performance" – Salt Lake Tribune, Aug. 11, 2013.
Inherent in Mr Bennion’s remarks is the assumption that immigrants and those with ethnic backgrounds and experiences have biases that preclude them from upholding the laws within the United States. This intolerant thinking serves to separate immigrants from others and perpetuate stereotypes such as the disloyal and unlawful Asian immigrant. Asian Pacific Americans have a long history of living in Utah. Chinese and Japanese people immigrated to Utah in the 1860’s and Hawaiians helped build the Salt Lake LDS Temple in the1880’s. Yet, Asian and Pacific Islanders are often regarded as the “perpetual foreigner.” That is, one is regarded as an immigrant no matter how many generations one’s family has lived in the United States.
UOCA welcomes any opportunity to foster greater understanding and empathy among all of the racial and cultural divides in our society. It is only through thoughtful debate and respect for one another that we can hope to bridge these racial and cultural divides and become one, great community. While reasonable minds may differ on the role of the District Attorney’s office and the results of any specific prosecution or use of force review, it is incumbent on our civic and political leaders to ensure that such hearty and healthy policy debates do not deteriorate into personal attacks on an individual’s character or level of professionalism. As Chairman for the Salt Lake County Republican Party, Mr. Bennion should be aware that the words he chooses to convey his feelings can have a profound and lasting effect. We hope it is not the intent of Mr. Bennion or the Salt Lake County Republican Party to imply that District Attorney Gill is somehow less than qualified for office due to his ethnicity.
Mr. Bennion’s comments undermine the efforts of many Republican leaders to reach out to and embrace Utah’s ethnic communities.
We deplore the statements by Mr. Bennion as they portray the Salt Lake County Republican Party as an organization of oppression and not one that is ready or able to represent our racial and ethnic communities. Because Mr. Bennion chose to tie his comments to his position as Salt Lake County Republican Party Chairman, his statements are attributable to the party. Therefore, we demand that the Salt Lake County Republican Party denounce the claims of Mr. Bennion and apologize to our community for suggesting that ethnicity should be considered as a qualification or, as Mr Bennion suggests, a disqualification for public office.
About OCA & UOCA
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, founded in 1973, is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has over 100 Chapters and affiliates throughout the United States. OCA is celebrating its 40th year as one of the nation’s preeminent civil rights and social justice organizations. In addition to civil rights and social justice advocacy, OCA provides leadership development training for undergraduates, post-graduates and young professionals.
UOCA is the Utah chapter of OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates. It was founded in 1998 and advocates for civil rights and social justice for Utah’s Asian and Pacific Islander American communities. In addition, UOCA members perform several community service and charitable events throughout the year.