US Congresswoman introduced a bill that she alone sponsored that would make it a crime to post on social media, or other platforms, anything that might inspire another to commit a hate crime. One could be found guilty of “conspiracy to engage in white supremacy inspired hate crime” under her proposed legislation for crimes or plots they had no actual knowledge of.
US Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee represents the 18th district of Texas. Lee titled the bill “Leading Against White Supremacy Act of 2023.” It calls for a new type of federal hate crime conspiracy charge solely aimed at White people.
Anyone who criticizes immigration or vilifies any “non-White person or group” in an article or social media post can be charged with this crime. They would face this charge if someone they have never met or communicated with is accused of “planning, development, preparation, or perpetration” of a crime.
What does this mean, and could this bill actually become law?
While the remainder of the bill is not something that I disagree with, it is something that is redundant. It is already against the law to commit a hate crime, no matter what your race is. However, this proposed legislation is aimed solely at “White supremacy.”
The bill would also face tremendous backlash and would face numerous constitutional challenges, as the first amendment is solely on the chopping block if, and it is a big if, this bill was to be signed into law.
Let's say that you are on Twitter, and you share a video that is depicting a fight between a white kid and several black teens. You share the video and say something along the lines that “this must end. Why does this have to happen in America?”
In all fairness, one could be asking why the violence in America continues to happen and why the overall situation is sad and disturbing. Does it have anything to do with race? To the original poster, it could have absolutely nothing to do with their race and everything to do with the violence they witnessed. And yet, you could still end up charged with a hate crime.
A guy in another state, clear across the country, sees your post and decides that he is going to “do something” about what he watched in the video, and he takes to the streets and starts randomly picking out Black teenagers to attack.
Did your post “inspire” him to commit a hate crime? Under this proposed legislation, you might be charged with conspiracy to engage in white supremacy inspired hate crime.
We all know our actions have consequences, but words also have consequences. Is this the answer? To legislate the masses not to have an opinion or to voice their concern about a situation that might include individuals that are not white?
Talk about a slippery slope.
This is not the only controversial move that the Congresswoman has made in recent days.
On the same day that Jackson introduced HR 61, she also co-introduced HR 40, which calls for a federal commission on reparations for slavery. Ultimately the purpose would be to give free money to Black Americans. A total of fifty-two Democrats are currently sponsoring HR 40.
According to a new poll conducted by the University of Massachusetts, most Americans say they hate racism but at the same time oppose reparations for descendants of slaves.
The poll found that 53% of those polled said they see white privilege, which benefits white people over nonwhites in social, political or economic circumstances, in everyday America. At the same time, 62% said racism makes them angry that it still exists, and a majority of Americans say racism is neither rare nor isolated.
According to Mass Live, questions about attitudes toward African-American and Jewish citizens were asked by the Political Science Department at the university with polling conducted during the first week of January. The survey polled the attitudes of 1,000 people in the United States with a political, racial and age cross section approximately equal to current American demographics.
With a country that is so divided, how do we move forward? How do we cross the divide and try to repare that for which we may not have personally broken?
Reparations may aid some to “heal” from wounds they believe were caused by racism, but will it actually heal the divide in our country?
The UMass poll indicates that 57% of respondents ages 18 to 29 support reparations for the descendants of slaves.
That support decreases to 42% among those ages 30 to 54 and just 22% for those over 55 years old, for an aggregate 36% across all age groups.
Tatishe Nteta, provost professor of political science at UMass and director of the poll, said the movement to force the federal government to make reparations payments due is increasing on local, state, and private levels.
“While the movement for reparations has grown at the local, state and private levels there has been little support by the federal government,” Nteta said. “The consistent lack of public support for reparations likely accounts for the lack of legislative or presidential leadership on reparations as 6 in 10 Americans express opposition to a federal program. Four in 10 Americans say that this is a policy that the federal government should ‘definitely not pursue.’”
On a brighter note, Jackson Lee is also demanding the release of a former Afghan soldier seeking asylum in the U.S. who is being held at a Texas detention center after he attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border to reunite with his brother.
Her support comes after a coalition of US veteran groups called on Biden to intervene in Safi’s case in December.
She also believes that Abdul Wasi Safi should begin his life in the U.S. without a criminal record.
Jackson Lee has sent a letter to the White House asking the Biden administration to pardon the Afghan veteran for any crimes related to his crossing the border seeking asylum.
“This is a mistake that needs to be corrected immediately,” she said at a news conference Friday.
Wasi, as he is known, worked as an intelligence officer in the Afghan National Security Forces alongside U.S. troops. He fled Afghanistan in 2021 as the Taliban began targeting citizens who had previously helped the U.S. during the decadeslong war.
Safi’s brother, Sami Safi told CNN in December that while his brother was still in Afghanistan during the withdrawal, he received “multiple voicemails” saying his fellow service members had been captured and killed by the Taliban.
Wasi Safi was “extremely disappointed” that a “country that says ‘we will never leave our allies behind’ left [him] behind to the enemy [he] was fighting,” Sami Safi said.
Sami Safi, who became a US citizen in July 2021, expressed frustration and sorrow over his brother’s fate. He served as an interpreter himself with US forces for several years because he “wanted to be part of the operation against the Taliban,” he said.
Jackson Lee stated that Wasi crossed three continents to make it to the Texas border, where he hoped to meet his brother, who is now a naturalized U.S. citizen. Instead, he was arrested and has been in custody since Sept. 30.
“I’m calling on Biden’s administration to release my brother,” said Sami Safi. “He believed in this mission of this country in Afghanistan. That’s why he fought alongside the United States Special Forces … to eliminate terrorism.”
In a letter to President Joe Biden, the congresswoman requested that he issue Wasi a pardon, stating an owed debt to our allies ought to be honored by the country.
“When their service exposes them to credible threats, we must redouble our effort to keep our word because doing so also protects our troops stationed around the world today and into the future,” the letter reads.