The House recently passed a non-binding resolution that condemns hate and bigotry in response to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic statements, citing a broad range of victimized groups, including Jews and Muslims. It doesn’t include white Christians—a stark and significant omission.
The resolution is not a bill that will be sent to the president to sign. No legal weight is attached to it. It is merely a motion that allows members of Congress to show they oppose hate, even as they refuse to call out and punish individual politicians for their particular violations.
More than 20 Republicans refused to sign the resolution because they saw through Democrats’ ruse of seeking cover for failing to deal with Omar’s bigotry in their own ranks. These Republicans were also concerned about the vague language and exclusion of white Christians as possible victims who can also be targets of hate. In the Senate, Ted Cruz is soon to announce his own resolution aimed exclusively at anti-Semitism.
Because the House resolution is non-binding and won’t become law, many say it’s meaningless, that it’s “all show and no substance” and will have no lasting effect on the nation. This presumption, however, fails to see the bigger picture. The resolution isn’t just a piece of paper. It’s an idea––a dangerous one that Congress has legitimized and Democrats have likely floated to garner support for future laws.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward: they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” This kind of incrementalism is how both good and bad legislation comes into being. A country doesn’t transform into a thriving civil society with one bill, just as it doesn’t degenerate into a totalitarian dystopia overnight. It begins with daring ideas.
The problem with the resolution’s nonspecific condemnation of speech is that it was drafted within a cultural context in which hate is perceived as any speech that offends a minority group, anyone who thinks she’s a victim of “the patriarchy.”
For years, politics have been steeped in leftist labeling of conservatives. If you oppose affirmative action, you’re a racist. If you think a woman is unqualified for office, you’re a sexist. If you want Omar removed from her seat on the Foreign Relations Committee because of her anti-Semitic comments, you’re a hateful, anti-Muslim bigot.
Leftists have refashioned “hate” into a political tool to silence opposition. It has long been an effective Democratic tactic. In the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney was falsely accused of being a sexist because he had professional binders of resumes of prospective female employees. He lost the women’s vote, partly because of the sexist label.
It’s become a running joke in political discourse that whenever conservatives call out leftist ideology, they’re immediately called a racist, sexist, or homophobe. It would be funny if it weren’t so bad, especially if a generalized definition of hate based on emotions eventually becomes an argument for law.
Will the free speech and religious liberty of the pastor who believes homosexuality is a sin be undermined as this mentality progresses, making him lose his livelihood and maybe even his freedom? Will the political commentator who says the black community needs to take more responsibility for its freedoms be hounded from social media, fired from his job, fined, or imprisoned, depending on the legislation?
Republicans should oppose the House resolution against hate and bigotry, not only because it doesn’t address the specific issue of Omar’s comments, but because it sets up a possible scenario in which legislation can be twisted to accuse the innocent of a criminal act—with straight, white Christians being the primary target.
Fundamental to free speech is the right to offend others, to say what some people might not like to hear. Too many people in America today can’t handle this freedom. They want to control others because they believe they are currently oppressed or disenfranchised by the majority.
Offense is defined as hate. Political disagreement is labeled bigotry. Straight, white men and women are assumed to be the oppressors of other victimized groups. Our country isn’t many chess moves away from turning the ideas expressed in the House resolution into law.
The House resolution, with its list of various victimized groups couched in vague language about hate and bigotry, should never have been written; it was unnecessary. Republicans should oppose it and make the bold statement that in a society in which false accusations of hate are made daily by malcontents and ideologues, the resolution sets the stage for bad legislation in the future. It opens the door to loss of liberty.