Asian American Democratic Club’s Response to MCDCC Statement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS CONTACT: Barnaby Yeh
ROCKVILLE, MD: The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, through its Chair, Mr. David Kunes, issued a Statement dated June 6, 2018, purporting to “disavow” the Asian American Democratic Club of Montgomery County, citing “complaints about the origins of [our] officers”, as well as “highly questionable claims about Democratic primary candidates”, clearly in reference to our recent Press Release endorsing Sen. Roger Manno and David Trone, and disqualifying Delegate Aruna Miller because of her ties to notorious human rights abusers Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of India (BJP). The facts of our Press Release are clear, entirely truthful, and highly verifiable:
Delegate Miller is associated with the BJP and its leaders, and did, in fact, enthusiastically praise Narendra Modi as a “Political Rock Star”. Her support for Modi and the BJP has been widely covered in the press. It has been blogged by members of the BJP, and it is even posted on their Facebook page.
The BJP is well-documented for its human rights abuses including genocide.
While we apologize to anyone who may have misunderstood our statement as claiming that Miller is personally in support of genocide or Islamophobia, facts are facts; changing the story will not change the fact that Delegate Miller personally participated in BJP events as a noted local Maryland politician and supported Modi publicly.
Attempts to Delegitimize the Asian American Democratic Club
The Asian American Democratic Club is a legitimate independent organization. We have never applied for chartering by the MCDCC, nor do we have any intention to do so. The First Amendment guarantees us the right to organize, and we clearly state on our website that we are an independent group of grassroots activists. We have no interest in being associated with the old Party “Establishment”, but we do consider ourselves a “Club” and “Democratic”.
It is necessary to address claims made by MCDCC Chair Dave Kunes. The MCDCC statement falsely claims that we are “representing [ourselves] as a chartered Democratic organization”. To be clear, we have never claimed that we are chartered by any level of the Democratic Party. The truth, as clearly said on our website, is that we are an independent grassroots organization composed of active Asian-Americans who are Democrats. Previously, all of our founding officers tried to join CAPAD, the organization cited in the MCDCC release as their officially-chartered organization. However, CAPAD does not even have a website, nor a Facebook group, and after multiple emails, multiple phone calls to wrong numbers, and multiple attempts to connect on social media, we gave up. Accordingly, we decided that it was our job to organize our community through our own efforts, and our stated mission is in accordance with this. Mr. Kunes is at best mistaken (we have tried to connect with him multiple times, as well), or at worst, deliberately misleading.
We bring attention to the fact that the MCDCC has failed to elect a single Asian-American to its board in four years, and close to a dozen Asian Americans have been turned down for various elected positions by the MCDCC, including state delegate and membership on the MCDCC. What legitimacy does the MCDCC and CAPAD have in the eyes of Asian Americans then? The non-existent representation by Asian Americans on the MCDCC board and record-low turnout by Asian Americans in Democratic Primaries in 2014 have clear and self-evident implications.
Over 60 Democratic candidates for office, including some who are now attacking our right to organize independently, have applied for our endorsement. If the issue of our legitimacy was of such grave concern, one must ask why they continued to apply for our endorsement for many months after the first negative blog post against us? The answer is simple: everyone wants more voters to turn out, and we are working towards that end ourselves.
Attacking Us Won’t Change the Fact that Aruna Miller Praised a Mass Murderer
More importantly, the content of our Press Release remains accurate. Aruna Miller did indeed call Narendra Modi a “Political Rock Star”, and she did later offer multiple contradictory explanations to different people in order to cover up her tracks, ranging from saying that her praise was only for his economic plan, to saying that she does not support Modi at all. Nearly all of the attacks launched against the Asian American Democratic Club have been ad hominem and focused on a simple thing: trying to discredit us for telling the truth about Delegate Miller’s ties to far-right wing Hindu nationalists complicit in genocide.
The BJP, of which Modi is a member, is known around the world as representative of a violent movement of hate, with a well-documented history of targeting vulnerable minorities for lynchings and rapes. In light of Aruna Miller’s claims to support women and vulnerable minorities, this makes her ties with the BJP highly disturbing. Reputable Indian public figures have compared the BJP to the KKK, and while we, as Democrats or even as just members of a decent society, do not hesitate, to condemn Donald Trump or any other political official for praising Klan leader David Duke, calling out Miller for the same thing has somehow become grounds for attacking and discrediting us. Such attacks are unwarranted and unacceptable, and we call upon the MCDCC for a full retraction.
Serving in the United States Congress is a privilege that should only be held by people of the highest distinction. Congress is not only our representative body in Washington, it is also a place where major foreign policies are discussed, decided, and enacted. As millennial Democrats, and contrary to the current administration in the White House, we believe that the United States should be a shining example for human rights at home and abroad. Furthermore, as Asian-Americans, we believe that members of our community who serve in public office should likewise exemplify the highest levels of character and integrity, so that it reflects positively on our community. If we allow someone with proven ties to violent hate groups to be elected to a body that people around the world admire for upholding human rights, we feel this would reflect poorly on those of us in the Asian-American community, and as a country.
If Aruna Miller wishes to avoid being called out on her lack of integrity on this matter, she can publicly retract her prior statements, her ties, and her current positions on Hindu ultra-nationalists at any time. Until then, we will continue to publicize these easily-verifiable facts, and no amount of smear campaigning by Miller or her supporters can intimidate us.
The MCDCC statement claims that it “does not censor the comments of local Democratic voters or organizations,” yet it has directly contradicted this policy by making libelous accusations about our status in order to silence our voice, and it has both directly and indirectly censored links and postings containing our views. We will continue to stand by all of our statements and activities against any baseless attacks that may come our way.
At the same time, we enthusiastically encourage open and respectful communication with any person or organization that wishes to engage in dialogue regarding any of our statements or positions, and specifically invite representatives of the MCDCC and CAPAD to address the issues of human rights, the policies and practices of India’s BJP party, and the support of the BJP and its leaders by or for any candidate running for elected office in Maryland.