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Press Release

ADL Condemns Hateful Messages Labeling National Spelling Bee Winners ‘Non-Americans’

New York, NY, May 30, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned as “truly sickening” a series of hateful messages posted on Twitter and other social media platforms in reaction to the naming of two Indian Americans as co-champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Since the results were announced on Thursday night, Sriram Hathwar of Painted Post, New York, and Ansum Sujoe of Fort Worth, Texas have been derided in a series of offensive and derisive comments describing the young contestants as “non-American” and much worse; other messages lamented the dearth of Caucasian finalists.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and co-author of “Viral Hate: Containing Its Spread on the Internet,” issued the following statement:

It is truly sickening to see some Americans attempting turn this moment -- a crowning achievement for two young students -- into an opportunity to spread racism and hatred.

We are better than this.  The National Spelling Bee should be an opportunity to recognize and celebrate talented students who have mastered challenging words in the English lexicon.  The expression of hatred on social media should be met with an overpowering response in support of the winners and a clear rejection of the hate speech that has appeared online.

 Unfortunately, we have been down this road before. Last year social media similarly erupted with hate when Nina Davuluri became the first woman of Indian descent to win the Miss America Pageant. The reaction in some quarters to Mr. Hathwar and Mr. Sujoe’s victory serves as a reminder of how much work remains to be done in this country to ensure that America remains no place for hate.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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