Free speech is one of our most cherished rights in the US. The First Amendment in the US Constitution says this:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi, took a step to eliminate this right. She and some other House Democrats drew up this Resolution, whose essential text we reproduce here.
H. RES. llRejecting anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES M__. __________ submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on ___________
Rejecting anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.
Whereas anti-Semitism is the bigotry faced by Jewish people simply because they are Jews;
Whereas anti-Semitism entails prejudicial attitudes or dis- criminatory acts toward people who are Jewish on the basis of their identity;
Whereas in 2010 the Department of State adopted the ‘‘working definition’’ of anti-Semitism promulgated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance;
Whereas the definition includes ‘‘a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews’’, including blaming Jews when things go wrong, calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or extremist view of religion, or making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews;
Whereas Jewish people are subject to numerous other dan- gerous anti-Semitic myths as well, including that Jews control the banks, media, and the United States Government or seek world domination and that Jews are obsessed with money;
Whereas the definition further includes ‘‘accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations’’;
Whereas the myth of dual loyalty, including allegations that Jews should be suspected of being disloyal neighbors or citizens, has been used to marginalize and persecute the Jewish people for centuries for being a stateless minority;
Whereas accusing Jews of dual loyalty because they support Israel, whether out of a religious connection, a commitment to Jewish self-determination after millennia of persecution, or an appreciation for shared values and interests, suggests that Jews cannot be patriotic Americans and trusted neighbors, when Jews have served our Nation since its founding, whether in public life or military service;
Whereas accusations of dual loyalty generally have an insid- ious, bigoted history, including—
(1) the discriminatory internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II on the basis of race;
(2) the Dreyfuss affair; when Alfred Dreyfuss, a Jewish French artillery captain was falsely convicted of passing secrets to Germany based on his Jewish back- ground;
(3) when the loyalty of President John F. Kennedy was questioned because of his Catholic faith; and
(4) the post-9/11 conditions faced by Muslim-Ameri- cans in the United States, including unfounded, vicious attacks on and threats to Muslim-American Members of Congress; and
Whereas scapegoating and targeting of Jews in the United States has persisted for many years, including the 1915 lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish man falsely accused of rape and murder, Henry Ford writing that there was a ‘‘Jewish plan to control the world, not by territorial acquisition, not by military aggression, not by governmental subjugation, but by control of the machinery of commerce and exchange’’, the America First Committee, and the rise of neo-Nazism;
Whereas in 2017 the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported a 37 percent increase in hate crimes against Jews or Jewish institutions and found that attacks against Jews or Jewish institutions made up 58.1 percent of all religious-based hate crimes;
Whereas on October 27, 2018, the perpetrator of the deadliest attack on Jewish people in the United States at the Tree of Life Synagogue building in Pittsburgh that killed 11 worshippers, reportedly stated that he ‘‘wanted all Jews to die’’;
Whereas Jews are the targets of anti-Semitic violence at even higher rates in many other countries than they are in the United States;
Whereas all Americans, including Jews, Muslims, and Christians and people of all faiths and no faith, have a stake in fighting anti-Semitism, as all Americans have a stake in fighting all bigotry and hatred against religions, races, or places of origin;
Whereas there is an urgent need to ensure the safety and security of Jewish communities, including synagogues, schools, cemeteries, and other institutions; and
Whereas on February 14, 2019, the House of Representatives adopted House Joint Resolution 37 stating that anti- Semitism is a challenge to the basic principles of tolerance, pluralism, and democracy, and the shared values that bind Americans together: Now, therefore, be it
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Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) acknowledges the dangerous consequences of perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes; and
(2) rejects anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.
It looks nice on the surface, of course, because it is true that bigotry against any group of people for any reason is simply wrong.
But this is much more than just an expression of support for a beleaguered people (who are not that beleaguered anymore – think about it. They have their own country, a very powerful military and they pretty much do what they wish. Israel is a powerful little state, powerful enough to even shake its finger at the US from time to time.)
This resolution was apparently crafted as an attempt to get one Democrat representative, Ilhan Omar, to shut up about there being a problem with the pro-Israel lobby as it affects American politics. We address this in a companion piece.
However, in classic liberal fashion the cure is worse than the disease. In attempting to shut up Ilhan Omar, this resolution, if adopted, makes it wrong, possibly prosecutable, to offer any critical opinion or thought about Jewish activity. What happens, then, if, God forbid, the Jewish people decide to run with that and do all sorts of horrible things, secure in the knowledge that anyone who tries to call them out will be charged with a “hate crime?”
Further, what if a similar protection gets applied to, say, people who think it is okay to seduce your children into homosexuality or drug use? While drug use seems an impossible level, LGBTQrstuv… rights are on the increase, and parents find themselves increasingly powerless to tell their kids, THIS is right and THAT is wrong, as regards sexuality, according to principles handed down from ancient times, from God himself, as many believe.
This kind of “protection” is an elimination of freedom.
Violent attacks, murder, favoritism, these are illegal to just plain wrong actions. But earlier generations of American kids were often taught the rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
There is a lot of truth in that old rhyme – truth which has been forgotten.
“Hate speech” is one of the main buzzwords in political and media hyperbole these days, and it is easy to assume that hate speech is a crime. But, it isn’t. The US Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that hate speech is legally protected under the First Amendment. If this resolution were held up to the court, it ought to fail.
This is not the first time liberal Democrats have tried this. They had success through their accomplices in the press in terms of demonizing anyone who criticized President Obama’s policies. This was cast as “racism” and “hate speech”, causing the complainer to shut up. However, this resolution marks the first known attempt in recent times to actually make something akin to a law about protecting any particular ethnic, political or religious group.
Hopefully this resolution is just the product of Mrs. Pelosi’s significantly addled brain. However, in the “fervor” surrounding Ilhan Omar’s alleged “racist comments” about Jewish people, it is likely to pass the House vote as a bipartisan declaration of unity. However, if someone tries to enforce it, there will be problems.
There is an anecdotal saying that applies to this matter: Pelosi and the Dems with her have tried to do the right thing in the wrong way. Certainly bigotry is a stupid and disgusting practice. But making a law to forbid people saying it just means a loss of freedom of speech. It also means that whatever group finds itself “protected” under such a measure, especially were it to become some sort of law, can do whatever it wants without fear of being stopped.
Our private and public discourse in the United States is mean and messy. But it is also free, and there is nothing more effective than an educated free man or woman to effect positive change in the world. Taking any part of that opportunity away can only be wrong.