Monday, January 30, 2017

FamilySearch Owner and Ancestry CEO Respond to Refugee Situation

imageMy policy is to not write about non-genealogical politics. However, it is unprecedented that both FamilySearch’s owner and Ancestry.com’s CEO would both issue statements in response to a presidential action. These are the statements:

FamilySearch’s owner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement Saturday:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned about the temporal and spiritual welfare of all of God's children across the earth, with special concern for those who are fleeing physical violence, war and religious persecution. The Church urges all people and governments to cooperate fully in seeking the best solutions to meet human needs and relieve suffering. (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/the-church-expresses-concern-for-those-fleeing-violence-war-and-religious-persecution)

Ancestry’s CEO, Tim Sullivan, sent an email to the entire company last evening. I repeat it here with permission:

The last 48 hours in the U.S. have been both heart-breaking and outrageous.  Of immediate importance is the status of our Ancestry employees and/or their families.  We do not believe that any of our employees are currently affected, but if we are wrong, please let us know immediately, and we will do everything we can to help.

Our company values decency, works hard to embrace diversity, and is very familiar with the difficulties that families all over the world have endured for centuries in their attempts to stay together and to improve the lives of the next generation.  We are a company that lives history, so we’re familiar with the ugliness that we’re witnessing right now.  We’ve seen how families were impacted by the quotas on Chinese immigration less than a hundred years ago, by the refusal to accept Jewish refugees fleeing the horror of Nazi Germany, and by the absurd detainment of Japanese Americans during that war.  Today, it is broadly understood that these policies each left a black mark on our history and ran counter to the fundamental values of openness and inclusion that are our country's strength.

Ancestry is stronger due to the diversity of our employee’s personal and professional experience, so we have a clear business interest in not seeing America’s doors slammed shut to those that desire to come here and to contribute to our national strength, regardless of religion, race, or national origin.  Ancestry is also a company whose values are on display every day, and I’m proud to be part of a company that strives to have a positive impact on people’s lives, respects every person’s story, and celebrates the diversity of everyone’s ancestry.  So I want to clearly affirm that the content and intent of President Trump’s executive order on Friday, as well as the disturbing actions that were unleashed by this order, represent the total antithesis to the values of our company.

No one can ignore the stories of people stranded or detained and refused re-entry into a country they considered home and not feel real empathy.  Because I am also writing to you not just as CEO, but as a person, I will be honest and say that I am personally horrified and angered by the ignorance, hate, and xenophobia that have precipitated this shocking weekend, and that I think this is something that we all are going to have to confront and denounce.

Again, please let us know if you know of any employees that are personally impacted by the current situation.

Thanks,
Tim

23 comments:

  1. Thank you! This is a situation that everyone should be very concerned about as barring people because of their religion, ethnic origin or beliefs goes against everything this country stands for.
    Barbara

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  2. thank you for posting this. It speaks to my heart.

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  4. Please be careful of falling prey to hysteria everyone. 109 persons were questioned. A friend of mine told me yesterday that she was detained upon her arrival, not as she came from one of the countries in question, but because the airport security feared to allow thousands of flyers to leave the airport and be subjected to a bevy of fiesty protesters. Once she was able to leave, she saw a few protesters laughing and congratulating themselves on making a situation and getting on the news. I am sure you, Ancestry Insider, do not wish to have your site overtaken by factions stating their cases on Trump executive orders, but we have to do more than sit on our hands and give terrorists a stern talking to during a news conference. In the meantime, to help understand the difference between modern Muslims and radical Islamic extremists, might I recommend as a primer, Dr. Sebastian Gorka's "Defeating Jihad." The book is short, and could be listened to traveling to and from ROOTSTECH. But be warned, there is a huge bibliography for further reading. Joan, the librarian

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    1. Thank you, Joan. I've seen Dr. Gorka's book but haven't had a chance to read it. It will be next up on my reading list!

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    2. I believe the hysteria is among those who irrationally fear all Muslims. In 40 years, not one American has been killed on American soil by anyone from the seven banned countries. Not one. On the other hand, there have been people from England, Germany and France who have killed Americans on American soil. Should we ban people from those countries? And most of the killers were men. 80% of people arrested in the US for violent crimes are men. Should we ban all men?

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  5. Please, folks, read and pay attention to what is being said between the lines. This has nothing to do with the Muslim religion and such has been stated. This has to do with protecting our country and its people from terrorists. It's too bad that people with a platform and some authority speak without thinking. They need to understand the full story before voicing "THEIR OPINION" and we need to understand the full story before forming "OUR OPINION." I still remember 9-11. Do you? I know several Muslim people and find them warm, caring, and interesting to spend time with. Their opinion is that President Trump has done the right thing in trying to protect this country. MY opinion? Let's wait and see how this goes.

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  6. I'm very disappointed in this public statement that fuels hysteria. No, there is no "Muslim ban." People are not being permanently "banned" from coming to the United States based on their religion. There is a TEMPORARY travel ban that impacts 7 countries with known ties to terrorism. There are 43 other predominantly Muslim countries that are NOT impacted. If you have a green card, you can still come into the country, but with slightly more security screening and inconvenience. This TEMPORARY travel ban impacts those who are trying to travel in and out of the US from these 7 countries, if they don't have a visa or green card. Please, please read up on the facts before making more hysterical pronouncements. Look at Europe and what's happened there with an "open border" policy. Personally, I am thankful that President Trump is taking these steps, all within his executive powers. I'm all for immigrants coming into the country, but only if properly vetted. If anyone has a real concern with refugees, there are charitable organizations that you can either volunteer with or donate to, to help with their horrific situations. I'm betting that very very few people walk the talk on refugees. I respect everyone's opinion, but please please stop fueling the hysteria without facts.

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  7. Thank you so much Tim! And kudos to those who showed up across the nation to speak out on this misguided ban.

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  8. I am keenly aware that we must be careful about "falling prey to hysteria" (quoting Joan), and strive not to do it myself. However, I believe that that is EXACTLY what has happened to the faction in our country that voted for our current President primarily because he intends to build a wall and to prevent anyone who shares characteristics with terrorists from entering the country. Both of these measures have been found repeatedly in history, and have every time --- EVERY TIME --- been shown to be bad policy, no matter what. Those who are ignorant of history (our current President included) are doomed to repeat it. Unfortunately, those of us who have NOT fallen prey to hysteria are made victims of the ignorance of those who have. That makes me angry. Ignorance is one thing; it can be cured. Stupidity is quite another---it's the characteristic of those who choose to remain in ignorance. I think that supporters of our current President need to examine themselves and figure out if they are being stupid. Of course, very few will do that, so what we are dealing with is not just ignorance, but stupidity. In our President himself, that is exacerbated by personal hubris, arrogance, egotism, and selfishness. It's a very sad time for America.

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  9. I thank you as well. It is good to know that there are thoughtful people who recognize this as contrary to what we as a nation believe in. There is a reason the Emma Lazarus poem is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.

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  10. Let us all go volunteer to help any refugees right in our communities.

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  11. I'm really glad that both organizations made a statement. As genealogists and historians we keenly know that this is an issue that we must we aware of. We are all citizens of this globe. Let's help each other out.

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  13. Ancestry should be a private business only. Your political views are yours and I could care less what you think one way or another. I do not voice my political postion(s) here, nor should I. So Mr. CEO, their are other programs that provide these services and some may even by better. So after $500.0+ per year, for over 10 years, will not renew. bye bye

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  14. Has it been confirmed that this is not a hoax? I called support at Ancestry.com yesterday and was tolld by an employee that no such email was received by her or her supervisor. I have an email into to their PR department and will call the corporate office later. As much as I agree with the sentiments expressed here, it sounds too good to be true.

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    1. I have to agree with you, as a a employee of Ancestry, I wish they were really inclusive. that was not my experience at all.

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    2. I've rechecked the notification. It did come from an official spokesperson for Ancestry.com.

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    3. Dear Readers,

      I've gone through the comments and deleted those that attacked other commenters. Because of the incivility, I've closed off comments for this article.

      To those personality attacking me, mostly through private email, may I point out that I didn't state my position. This newsletter is about FamilySearch and Ancestry.com, not my political views. When the two did something unprecedented, it needed to be reported, whether critical or supportive of the president's action.

      To readers who wished I had not reported a political issue, I apologize. It was a difficult decision. That FamilySearch and Ancestry both had made statements, and that the act was unprecedented, I felt should be reported. This was never meant to start a political war. As one person warned on Facebook, I was starting something I would regret. That has proved to be true.

      Again, my apologies.

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