Sharon Brannigan: ‘I am not anti-Arab. I am not anti-Muslim. I am not anti-immigrant’

After three months of protests at the Palos Township Board meetings over comments she made on Facebook, Trustee Sharon Brannigan has issued an apology to residents of Middle Eastern background and to the Palos community. Patch is printing her statement in its entirety.

I want to issue a clarification of my statement to Arabs, Muslims and people from the Middle East of our community who took offense to comments I posted on my Facebook Page.

Although my comments were not intended as being anti-Arab or anti-Muslim, I acknowledge that some residents felt they were and for that I am sorry. After deep reflection, I can honestly say that my words were poorly crafted and my feelings were inadequately expressed. Racism and discrimination is not my intent and is not in my heart.

I wanted to speak to the political issues of immigration, but clearly instead of having a discussion about immigration reform and improving America’s immigration policies, the focus instead turned towards allegations and feelings by some of racism.

I am not anti-Arab. I am not anti-Muslim. I am not anti-immigrant. I am the granddaughter of immigrants who came to this country from Ireland and Italy through Ellis Island with a dream of prosperity and goodness.

I know what racism is and I know what discrimination is. It was not my intent to reflect any of those feelings.

Through all the hurt feelings and anger, I believe the issues have been distorted and I unintentionally contributed to that misunderstanding. However, they are important. I want to reach out to Arabs and Muslims in Palos Township to use this as an example of how we can find ways to work and live together, and more importantly, better understand each other.

I believe we can work together to do what’s best for our community. America is a nation of immigrants. Legal immigrants. Without question I support everyone who defends this country and respects its laws.

As an elected official, I have a responsibility to speak to all of the residents of Palos Township, not just the ones who understand me and agree with me. I am beyond open and happy to sit with anyone who has legitimate concerns and explain my true intent.

I believe responsible public officials need to know when they do right and when they do wrong. Again, I regret that my words offended anyone. That was not my intent. Going forward, it is my hope that we can work together as a community for the benefit of everyone who lives in Palos Township be they Irish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Italian, Hispanic, Jewish or Middle Eastern. As an elected official, and as responsible activists, we owe it to our community to do so.

I want to repeat:

I apologize to anyone who felt offense from my words. I failed to properly express myself.
I am not anti-Arab or anti-Muslim. I am the granddaughter of immigrants who came to this country through Ellis Island and who embraced America. I believe we all desire the same goals.
I am willing to meet with any Arabs or Muslims in Palos Township to discuss this further and have a responsible dialogue.
We don’t have to agree on issues of politics but we should be civil and respectful in our language and rhetoric and that will start with me.

Thank You,

Sharon Brannigan


Palos Patch

By Lorraine Swanson (Patch Staff)

Read more HERE

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