BAILEY T. STEEN | WEDNESDAY, 20 JUNE, 2018
“In politics, it’s what isn’t said that matters.”
— K.J. Parker
“Social Justice Warriors”, otherwise known as SJWs, serve as the problematic opposition to free speech. It was only recently that Dave Rubin, the political commentator notorious for cliche libertarian talking points, was the smartest person in a room full of dumb activists at the University of New Hampshire. The SJWs larping as revolutionaries as Rubin’s speech for Turning Point USA was hijacked by unintelligible left-wing chants and clanging instruments.
This suppression of speech, however, isn’t just exclusive to the left-wing and their kids on college campuses. In fact, there’s a legitimate argument that right-wing SJWs have a more sinister means of suppressing freedom of speech: actual censorship laws from the United States federal government.
Two weeks ago, leaders working for the ACLU decided to sound the alarm on The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, a new bipartisan bill that reintroduced to Congress by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), which recently gathered co-sponsors in Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-CO) and even Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the current Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee.
The bill sounds fine enough on its face, wanting the federal government to crackdown on the significant increase in anti-Jewish hate crimes based on statistics provided in a cited FBI report. There’s only one problem… it just so happens that anti-Jewish hate crimes are already a crime under federal law.
In fact, Title VI of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically protects students from all forms of religious discrimination, whether that includes harassment based on a student’s “shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics” as well as their “citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or distinct religious identity”. They even state discrimination is illegal whether the victim is actually part of the faith they were discriminated based on.
These protections do have merit. In 2017, journalists for The Washington Post reported on a lawsuit made against San Francisco State University and its leaders alleging that the public school has “fostered a climate of anti-Semitism marked by violent threats to the safety of Jewish students on campus”, claiming this to be a clear violation of Title VI.
“I didn’t have the right to speak on my own campus; I felt afraid as a Jewish student,” Jacob Mandel, who just graduated from San Francisco State, told The Post. He went on to say it wasn’t just “ being shouted down at events by students politically opposed to Israel”, but that “the administration was actively working against me. … I felt really powerless.”
“Title VI is the underpinning of the modern American ethos of equal protection and anti-discrimination. This case isn’t about Jews, it’s about equal protection under the law,” added Brooke Goldstein, director of the Lawfare Project and Mandel’s lawyer, in his written statement to The Post. “If the courts fail to apply Title VI in this context, we are creating a massive loophole that will ultimately be exploited, at some point to target other marginalized minority communities. If we refuse to enforce the anti-discrimination law for Jews, if we say Jews don’t deserve equal protection, it will erode constitutional protections for everyone.”
I trust there are no objections to applying current anti-discrimination protections — so why leave the courts’ failures to Congress, shown to be issuing more laws they claim say the same thing already in place? Wouldn’t this ignore the issue? Unless, of course, the government isn’t addressing this issue and aren’t saying what they’re really doing.
If we just look at The Times of Israel, a newspaper who openly wear that zionist bias on their sleeve, even they admit the law specifically directs the Department of Education (DOE) to codify a definition of anti-Semitism based on the broad definitions from a deleted 2010 State Department memo. The bills goes on to label “double standards for Israel,” or the denial of “the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” as evidence of anti-Semitism.
According to Sen. Casey’s own statement, these hate crimes include:
- “Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
- Demonizing Israel by blaming it for all inter-religious or political tensions.
- Judge Israel by a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation.”
And, as if anticipating the backlash from the free speech warriors, the bill made sure to conclude this lying tidbit:
“Nothing in this Act, or an amendment made by this Act, shall be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
Only it does exactly that.
The bill is both contradictory and constitutionally problematic
Examine op-eds from defenders of the bill, such as those at publications like The Hill and Newsweek, and even they’ll tell you outright that under the First Amendment society protects “protects the speech we hate”, which includes the most horrible of views that remain legal withinin the United States such as holocaust denial. Within the confines of education, however, can academic freedom be used as an excuse to protect holocaust denial?
Consider the case of Kaukab Siddique, the professor of literature and mass communications at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, who often labels the Holocaust a “hoax” while citing discredited historians such as David Irving and notorious white supremacist Mark Weber, all the while teaching Holocaust related subjects. This is unacceptable, obviously, but what should be the appropriate action?
Should the man face new laws requiring fines and potential jail time for such loathsome opinions deemed thought crimes? Can’t this be extended to uneducated students and other atrocities? Or, alternatively, should he face public pressure in the form of a university hearing before a committee of his peers, forced to leave his position if found committing academic malpractice? Leaving the government to focus on violent hate crimes?
Legislation quite similar to The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, such as the “working definition of anti-Semitism” introduced by the European Union Agency For Fundamental Rights, also seen as inspiration for the bill, doesn’t even target campus speech as punishable through federal/international law. Instead leaving such subjects to the judgement of the universities.
The Chronicle of Higher Education cites the case of William I. Robinson, the sociologist for the University of California at Santa Barbara, who would have broken such broad definitions in their line about anti-Semitism including “unfair comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”.
In 2009, the university cleared the man of wrong doing after he compared Israel’s Gaza incursion to the Holocaust. Can the same be said under laws like The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act? In such circumstances, can these senators guarantee the government wouldn’t crackdown on this kind of hyperbolic free speech? Regardless of whether the argument has no merit?
Swap the aggressor to Islam or Palestine, citing any jihadist atrocity committed in their name, and these so-called free speech warriors like Rubin and Ben Shapiro would rightly cry about “Islamo-fascism” and “Sharia Law” attacking free speech. Where is such passion against right-wing censorship? Why is it okay for the government to scream unintelligible chants and clutching their guns when it’s Israel, the one subject treated with kids gloves?
These are the same kinds of voices that echo American-exceptionalism, after all. Each making the argument that not all countries are created equal and that “the west is the best”. You can’t hold this view while at the same time, against very your own claims, “judge Israel by a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation”.
I won’t hold my breath for right-wing SJWs to condemn the 35 New York state lawmakers who tried to ban all anti-Zionist on City University of New York (CUNY) campuses, all the while their bill died before a vote can be taken. Bills such as this threaten federal funding, the ability for students to express their views and override whatever protections granted on the state level. Such violations certainly matter more than the opinions of screaming kids with no money or power. Either protect political speech and find a compromise that defines anti-Semitism as what it really is, violence and bullying against based on hatred for Jews, or say you don’t believe in free speech.
“The threat of a federal investigation and subsequent loss of government funding will likely scare schools into suppressing speech critical of Israel,” wrote ACLU members Manar Waheed and Brian Hauss. “Students and teachers who criticize the Israeli government or advocate for Palestinian rights are the obvious targets. But freedom of speech will be the loser.”
Thanks for reading!
Bailey T. Steen is a journalist, editor, artist and film critic based in Victoria, Australia, but is also Putin’s Puppet™ on occasion.
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