Antisemitism Awareness Doesn’t Stifle Free Speech
  1. United States
  2. Ohio
  3. Letter

Antisemitism Awareness Doesn’t Stifle Free Speech

To: Sen. Vance, Sen. Brown, Rep. Beatty

From: A verified voter in Columbus, OH

May 1

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the Antisemitism Awareness Act recently introduced in the House. While I unequivocally condemn antisemitism and believe Congress should take steps to combat it, this bill is the wrong approach as it threatens free speech rights protected by the First Amendment. The bill's overly broad definition of antisemitism, based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition, could encompass legitimate political speech critical of Israel and its policies. Applying this definition would likely have a chilling effect on the constitutionally protected speech of students and faculty who voice opposition to Israeli government actions. Simply put, the government should not be in the business of punishing or silencing certain political viewpoints on college campuses, however controversial. Threatening to revoke federal funding from universities over the expression of specific opinions sets a dangerous precedent that erodes our bedrock free speech principles. I am also concerned that the bill is a politically motivated attempt to exploit divisions rather than a good faith effort to address antisemitism. A serious approach would bring people together, not vilify those with differing views on a complex geopolitical issue. Please oppose the Antisemitism Awareness Act in its current form. I urge you to instead support alternative bipartisan proposals that aim to combat antisemitism through increased education, monitoring and law enforcement coordination, without infringing on First Amendment rights. No one should face hate or discrimination based on their heritage or faith. At the same time, we must zealously protect the freedom of speech and academic discourse that is integral to a democratic society. I hope you will work to uphold both of these vital principles.

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