Sheila Jackson Lee

International Women's Day Women's Freedom Forum - March 4, 2015

Sheila Jackson Lee
March 04, 2015
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Thank you so very much. Thank you. What a very dynamic group and how important a time we are in and how much I appreciate the women that are here and the gathering of this effort, particularly with the Women’s Freedom Forum and of course the Iranian-American Society of Texas, of whom, of which I’ve had great relationships and great friendship and I ask that you give both the forum and the Iranian Society of Texas, Freedom Society, an amazing applause. Just a rousing applause. [Applause]

Certainly Patti Solis Doyle who I’ve engaged with on many issues, that we have had common interest in.. and then to thank Fran Townsend for holding up the banner of women’s expertise and knowledge, thoughtfulness, and quiet demeanor when she has been called upon to contribute—both I know privately in her consultations with Presidents of both parties, but when she’s been called upon in time of stress to be able to answer questions for the American public.

Fran, I thank you for those of us who view the security of our nation and the friendship with people who are in this room as a vital part of America’s values, we thank you so very much. [Applause]

I can say that because as Fran was leaving and I guess it was not so much as she was leaving, she was in the midst. The most catastrophic event has happened here in the United States and that is of course 9/11 which does not in any way denigrate anyone else’s trauma in terrorism, because each of you could tell a story. One, she worked for President George W. Bush. He is from Texas and I know the family, but more importantly I had the tragic honor of being named to the Homeland Security Committee as we were struggling with what we should do and determining that the House or the legislature, along with the executive had to come together. I remember distinctly going to New York when no planes were flying, and being on those grounds as the brave men and women, in this instance, firefighters, were still attempting ‘cause it went on for a long period of time, to recover remains.

There is no more sobering moment for Americans who have not experienced what many of you who will tell your stories—Camp Ashraf, Camp Liberty—we know there are stories to be told. For that reason, I come laden with a heavy heart, but also congratulating you for this approach. And congratulating the astuteness of your comments about women and extremism, for it is real.

We take note of three young women who left the comfort of their homes in London, educated in the ways of the West, if you will, but about to practice their faith and their families loved and nurtured them. Or the young girls who left the comforts of Denver, Colorado, who we might have though with a great sense of arrogance that they couldn’t be in a better place. There are some people who die to get to Denver, Colorado to make sure they can be on those slopes, but more importantly you would think that these young ladies had a comforting home and a place that they could find comfort in. Well the young woman who’s a partner in Je Suis Charlie in Paris, France, one who’s alleged that her husband was the perpetrator of the heinous crimes at the kosher market and of course, she has now been on the wanted list. Or the young lady in Scotland, what a green and pleasant place, who had the trappings of great comfort and now is a chief recruiter.

What is known is that it is all in the wrong name. Just as what you face in Iran, it’s in the wrong name. And women are at the core of freedom and they should not be utilized to be at the core of terrorism. But tragically all of our girls are now subject and suspect to the new technology of recruitment who don’t understand the tragedies of what you have gone through. Those in the Iranian community, what you have fought for, your freedom and how you have fought to say to the world that we are freedom fighters, which you are, and how these other girls now have been distorted, and believe that terrorism, the senseless beheading and killing of humanitarian workers and journalists equal your fight. It does not. And it is our responsibility to educate the distinction of freedom for fighting for justice as opposed to what is the misdirected understanding of going for the fight. That fight sounds romantic, sounds as if they’re going to be freeing someone. They’re not. In actuality, and I don’t know if Fran has spoken already, but in actuality we know that what they may be doing is being the rewards for young men. They may in actuality be used and abused. They may in actuality be the gift and not the leader, the romantic leader that will be freeing people or creating the caliphate. They will be used as burdens of beasts.

And so I join with the President, having participating in his countering violent terrorism to seek all the peoples of the world, such as this outstanding effort we’re having today on International Women’s Day to be able to stand as mothers and daughters and sisters and granddaughters to do on one side what is my responsibility—gather the intelligence and to be informed and to match smart power with soft power, hard power with soft power. And I hope that as you pursue your work today that these will be the themes. I am well aware of the fights of my Iranian brothers and sisters and how you have stood up to explain to us the distinction between our dear sister in Paris, France and what is, what you’re fighting against in Iran. And we must be tutored and we must speak the language so that we can get to a point where the world sees us united against the horrors of terrorism that undermine the democracy and the freedom of what you all are fighting for and that we overcome the brutality where family members have been lost or cannot get medicine or are being, and we are constantly fighting on the dignity of those who still remain isolated in camps, even though you are frustrated and I hope that you know that we are still there for you.

So my message is I celebrate the Women’s Freedom Forum and seek to be your sister in the work that I have to do and as was indicated. The Judiciary Committee was established in 1813, the Crime Subcommittee in about 1973, but however you establish, there has never been a woman to head the Crime Terrorism Homeland Security and Investigations Committee, a mother, a daughter, someone who wants to have your input, and many of the persons sitting here to come as witnesses before our committee. We’re looking at many things, obviously—fixing the criminal justice system in America, but we know how crucial it is to look at terrorism through your eyes today.

So I again, conclude my remarks by really congratulating that the array of persons here represent the nation but the world. That’s important, because women speaking to women, when women succeed, America succeeds. When women succeed, the world succeeds. But when we speak to each other from our voices, we can be the most effective voice in ceasing the recruitment to be used of women and young girls and we can be the eloquent spokespersons with knowledge, each in our sphere of influence to push our governments to be able to get our hands around the rising violence and to discern who is violent or who is a freedom fighter. And I believe that I have learned it well from all of you and I thank the great constituents of Texas who have given me that pathway. It is my privilege to be here and to celebrate you and to call you sister and friend and call you the power and the wind beneath our wings, for we shall, as I leave to go to Selma and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, I think I can say to this room, “We shall overcome.” God bless all of you. God bless the (respective) passing the liberty fighting, God bless the United States of America. [Applause]