Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont called on Americans to “stand up to hatred of all kinds” on Saturday as he paid a visit to a Koreatown mosque to commemorate the victims of the mass shooting in New Zealand.
“Your background is different than mine,” the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination told about 200 Muslims at the Islamic Center of Southern California. “What a joy it is to share that.”
The senator echoed that theme later in the day, telling an estimated 12,000 people at a downtown Los Angeles rally he was “shocked and disgusted” by the New Zealand shootings.
“As president of the United States, I will not have kind words to say about authoritarian leaders around the world who espouse bigotry and hatred,” Sanders told the crowd. “Together we will make the United States the leader in the world in the fight for democracy and human rights.”
Muslim community leaders in California invited Sanders to speak at the Islamic center to pay tribute to the 50 people killed March 15 at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a gunman identified as a white supremacist.
Sanders, 77, who acknowledges he does not like to talk about himself, shared memories of crying when he was a boy as he read about the Holocaust.
“I never could understand why would people do such terrible and horrible things to people,” he said at the mosque.
He mentioned the killing of Native Americans by European settlers in early America, the enslavement of African Americans, prejudice against Asians, Irish and Italians, and the genocides of the 20th century, saying there was reason to hope the world would now understand “that we share a common humanity.”
“Who really stays up at night worrying that the color of your skin is darker than mine?” he said. “Who worries that your religion is different than mine?”
Sanders bemoaned hate crimes, the rise of authoritarianism and demagogues picking on minorities.
“Now is the time, as never before, for us to stand up to hatred of all kind,” he said.
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