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Beware Of The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act

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Reprinted with permission•Mises WireLlewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

The House of Representatives passed the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” on May 2, by a vote of 320-91 in reaction to demonstrations on numerous university campuses and elsewhere against the brutal and genocidal policy of Israel in Gaza. The Act has now been sent to the Senate, where it seems certain to pass. This is an extremely dangerous bill that could criminalize the Bible, many Christian Churches, as well as any negative remarks about Israel and Jews. In brief, it threatens us with totalitarian thought control. We must do everything we can to oppose it.

First, let’s take an overview of the Act. It adopts the very broad definition of anti-Semitism of the “International Holocaust Remembrance Association.” The Act calls this definition “a vital tool which helps individuals understand and identify the various manifestations of antisemitism.”

What does this definition say? “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed in hatred of Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” How you can be anti-Semitic toward someone who isn’t Jewish isn’t immediately apparent.

The authors of the definition give someone examples of what they consider anti-Semitic. These include saying that the Jews control the media and Congress, saying that Israel is a racist state, propagating the “blood libel” that the Jews killed Jesus, minimizing or denying the Holocaust, and claiming that Jews in America have “dual loyalty.”

As a number of writers including Tucker Carlson and John Zmirak have pointed out, the definition allows large parts of the Bible to be banned. The most famous such passage is Matthew 27: 25. “His blood be upon us and our children.” This is the “blood libel” that the Act wouldn’t let us teach!

You might object that the Act would never be enforced in this way. The American people would never stand for it! But it would always be there, like a sword of Damocles, hanging over our heads. And don’t be so sure it wouldn’t be enforced! The Scottish Hate Speech Act was passed in 2021, and people predicted it would never be enforced. Beginning in April 2024, though, it has been enforced, and many people have been fined and imprisoned for violating it.

The biggest problem with the Act, though, isn’t the definition of anti-Semitism. If it were, we could substitute a more reasonable definition, such as “hatred for all Jews.” Even if this were done, however, we would still be in an untenable position. Banning any kind of speech, whether it is good or bad, is incompatible with a free society. As the great Murray Rothbard has taught us, all rights are property rights. Everyone can set the rules for speech on his own property, and no one has the right to control what anyone says on someone else’s property. This includes speech which counts as “offensive.” Of course, we don’t live in a libertarian society, but we should come as close as we can in practice to it. This means following the strictest possible interpretation of the First Amendment. “Congress shall make no law. . .abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”. ‘No law” means “no law” and that includes laws against so-called “hate speech.” As the great legal scholar Dr. Wanjiru Njoya says, “Jews must learn to live in a world where people say offensive things about them, same as anyone else. You shouldn’t jail people for saying offensive things about Jews or Israel.”

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