In his address to the participants of the State Department Student Programs and Fellowships, Rex Tillerson said that hate is not an American value.
Rex Tillerson: We all know hate is not an American value. Nowhere is it an American value. We do honor, protect, and defend freedom of speech, First Amendment rights. It’s what sets us apart from every other government regime in the world, in allowing people a right to expression. These are good things. But we do not honor, nor do we promote or accept hate speech in any form. And those who embrace it poison our public discourse and they damage the very country that they claim to love. So we condemn racism, bigotry in all its forms. Racism is evil; it is antithetical to America’s values. It’s antithetical to the American idea.
George Washington said in an address to the synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, that his vision for our country was, I quote, “a government to which bigotry gives no sanction; to persecution, no assistance.” In his second inaugural address in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called on Americans to “bind up the nation’s wounds.”
What Lincoln knew, and that we are sadly reminded today, that painful racial tensions are part of our experience as a nation. We too today should seek to bind up the wounds. We must pursue reconciliation, understanding, and respect regardless of skin color, ethnicity, or religious, or political views.
One of America’s defining characteristics is the promise of opportunity for advancement regardless of your skin color, how much money your parents make, or where you came from. It’s why millions of Americans, millions of people have risked their lives and their fortunes to protect this country, to come to this country – because they know that America promises a chance to fulfill your aspirations no matter your background. You will succeed based upon your efforts.
As my good friend Condi Rice has said, the essence of America is that which really unites us. It is not ethnicity or nationality or religion, it is an idea that you can come from humble circumstances and do great things. That it doesn’t matter where you came from but where you’re going.