A collection of conservative leaders have written to President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan expressing “grave concern” about a joint resolution approved by the Senate and House targeting “hate speech.”
Hastily enacted Sept. 14 without public debate, Public Law 115-58, the leaders write, could “lead to unconstitutional suppression of freedom of expression aimed at silencing those smeared by political opponents as, for example, ‘haters,’ ‘racists’ or ‘bigots.'”
“Many of us have been slandered in this fashion, falsely characterized as ‘white supremacists’ or some other, similarly disparaging epithet simply because we support, for example, traditional marriage, civil liberties rather than Sharia, secure borders and the enforcement of our immigration laws and/or effective counterterrorism policies,” they write.
Even worse, they say, the name-calling is “just the leading edge of an aggressive campaign to ruin the financial condition and prevent the widespread dissemination of the work of individuals and groups being targeted for what amounts to unrestricted political warfare.”
The statute “urges the President and his administration to speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and White supremacy and use all resources available to the President and the President’s Cabinet to address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.”
The letter calls upon the attorney general, the secretary of homeland security and the heads of other federal agencies to engage in such activities as investigating “thoroughly all acts of violence, intimidation, and domestic terrorism by White supremacists, White nationalists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and associated groups” and to improve “the reporting of hate crimes and to emphasize the importance of the collection, and the reporting to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, of hate crime data by State and local agencies.”
The problem, the leaders say, is that the statute does not define terms such as “hate group,” “white supremacist,” “extremist,” “anti-immigrant” and “xenophobia.”
“These open-ended mandates, they argue, “invite abuses of power by the state.”
Among the signatories are Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, retired U.S. Navy Admiral James Ace Lyons Jr., Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, Brigitte Gabriel of ACT! For America, Joseph Farah of WND.com and DHS whistleblower Philip Haney.
The statute particularly gives legitimacy and power to “self-appointed arbiters of ‘hate,’ such as the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center and others on the radical left and their Islamic allies, the conservative leaders warn.
WND reported Thursday the Pentagon has officially disassociated itself from the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, which routinely labels as “hate groups” organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Counsel and the Family Research Council because of their religious beliefs. SPLC has been cited as a catalyst in two incidents of attempted mass murder.
In their letter, the conservative leaders point to other bills “designed to further advance this agenda and now awaiting consideration may similarly be foisted upon the American people to their grave detriment.”
The bills include:
- “The National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality Act of 2017” — the “No HATE Act” — which would expand governmental efforts to collect “hate crimes” data and create private rights of action for “crimes motivated by actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin.”
- Senate Resolution 118, passed in April, which condemns “any other form of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus targeting a minority in the United States.” The conservative leaders contend it cites discredited data about hate crimes to justify intensified federal action to “detect and deter hate crimes to protect minority communities.”
- “The Disarm Hate Act,” House Continuing Resolution 77, urges the president “to prohibit the hiring of individuals … who have supported or encouraged support for White supremacists” and “to use all available resources of the office of the President and the Cabinet to address the growing prevalence of such hate groups domestically.”
The conservative leaders contend the legislative initiatives “share a false narrative, namely that the United States is overwhelmed with large numbers of ‘white supremacists’ and individuals and groups allegedly associated with them who pose a threat to the rights of minorities and other Americans.”
“This narrative is unsupported by the facts,” they write. “More importantly, this narrative is based on the same undefined terms now codified in PL115-58, terms that are used to defame and incapacitate people and organizations like the signatories of this letter simply because they effectively oppose the agenda of those who have made a cottage industry of ‘hate’ and employ it as an instrument of political warfare.”
The leaders call on Trump, McConnell and Ryan “to clarify your commitments to freedom of expression, reaffirm your sworn oaths to defend the Constitution which guarantees that fundamental liberty and reject further legislative efforts that weaken First Amendment protections for all Americans.”