Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
May 2, 2021
Thank you, Jonathan, for inviting me to speak at this summit. It is truly an honor to address you all today – especially at a moment when your work to combat hate, lies, and antisemitism is as necessary as ever.
You may have heard President Biden say that “we’re in a battle for the soul of our nation.” As leading trackers of hate, extremism, and antisemitism, you know that better than anyone. Right now, as you’ve recently reported, our country is experiencing an alarming increase in white supremacist propaganda. We’re also experiencing more bullying and discrimination, as well as hate speech and hate crimes, against Latino Americans, Sikh, Muslim Americans, Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, and immigrants. And we’ve seen how our adversaries are all too eager to foment and exploit hate to sow divisions among us.
Stopping hate and the insidious forces that spread it is imperative to the strength and the security of our democracy. That’s why the work you do is so important. For over 100 years, you have been on the forefront of efforts to stop hate, lies, and disinformation. Your work to build a more equitable and just nation has brought us closer to the promise of “a more perfect union.” You’ve helped pass landmark civil rights legislation and outlaw hate crimes. You’ve advocated for LGBTQI equality – here and around the globe. You’ve sounded the alarm early about the hate groups organizing online. And today, you are continuing to fight the spread of hate at a crucial time in our history.
Of course, no one person, group, or country can take on this challenge alone. As Jonathan has argued, we need everyone, across society, to make a concerted effort. I’m proud to be part of an administration that embraces that view as well. President Biden and Vice President Harris have made advancing racial equity, eliminating discrimination, and opposing intolerance a priority for the entire government, top to bottom. It’s embedded into everything that we do – including here at the UN. Over the first 100 days of this administration, we’ve stood up for human rights. We’ve spoken out against racism, antisemitism, sexism, and other forms of hate and injustice. We’ve called out bad actors and their enablers.
I’ve also been vocal and firm that the United States will oppose one-sided resolutions and other actions that unfairly and disproportionately target Israel. We will stand up for Israel, in every forum, whenever it is unfairly targeted.
When I arrived at the UN in February, I told the world that America was back at the table. Here’s the reason why our leadership is so important: It’s because the best way to challenge a wrong idea, or a hateful idea, is with a good and true one. When America shows up – we are consistent and persistent – the United Nations can be an indispensable institution for advancing peace and combating extremism. But only if we’re at the table. We’ve seen what can happen when our leadership is absent. It allows others to fill the void and have their views go unchallenged. That’s why we’re back and reengaging in every part of the UN system, from the Security Council, to the General Assembly, and to the Human Rights Council. Because if we want to lead, showing up is a good start.
But it’s not enough. President Biden believes we lead the world not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. And that’s the spirit in which he’s asked me to lead at the UN. That means we must also model to the globe how the world’s most powerful democracy confronts hate, disinformation, and extremism within our own borders. We don’t do that by sweeping it under the rug. We do it by confronting it head on – transparently, openly, honestly. And by working to make change.
That’s why your work and partnership is so important. Advancing our values at home helps advance our values in the world. Strengthening our democracy at home strengthens our ability to spread democracy everywhere. And having the moral courage to confront hate at home gives us credibility to call out hate, intolerance, and violence whenever we see it around the world.
When I was ten years old, if you had told me I would leave Baker, Louisiana – let alone represent America to the world at the UN – I’m not sure I would’ve believed you. My being here is a testament to our ability as a society to make progress. Your advocacy is a vital part of whether our progress continues. So, I look forward to being your stalwart ally at the UN. And together, we will advocate for truth, peace, and mutual respect here and around the world.