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Legislating Thought: The Government Cannot Abolish Bigotry

Greg Nash/Pool via AP

For some reason, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was taking criticism on social media last week over his vote on an antisemitism condemnation resolution that took place last year. Perhaps it was the brouhaha between Elon Musk and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that brought the matter back into focus.

But regardless of where it came from, many users on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, railed against the lawmaker for voting “no,” on the resolution, which prompted him to post a tweet explaining his actions. In his objections to the resolution, he highlighted a reality that far too many have forgotten: The government’s original role is to protect our natural rights and little more than that.

Massie, who is known on Capitol Hill for voting against most legislative proposals, defended his decision, acknowledging that he was the lone “no” vote against the measure. He noted that while he does not “hate anyone based on ethnicity or religion,” the state “can’t legislate thought.”

Massie also pointed out something many overlooked: “This bill promoted internet censorship & violations of 1A.”

In Massie’s tweet, he included a link to a Time Magazine article written shortly after the vote taking him to task for refusing to go along with the charade.

Not even the idea that anti-Semitism is bad can bring Washington together in unanimity.

The House voted 420-to-1 on Wednesday on a symbolic, seven-page resolution that calls on the government to do all it can protect Jewish individuals and organizations, to combat denials and distortions about the Holocaust, and to defend the rights of all Americans to practice their faith without fear of violence. Even The Squad, often criticized for votes that are seen as insufficiently supportive of Israel if not anti-Semitic, voted for the resolution.

As a practical matter, who doesn’t believe that the systemic discrimination of individuals—Jewish or not—is worthy of condemnation?

In his tweet, Massie brought out the simple fact that the government is not supposed to overstep its authority, which involves protecting our rights. The notion that a governing body could legislate against anti-Jewish bigotry sounds quite silly when one thinks about it. Unfortunately, very few people do think about it. Most don’t question these performative votes.

Moreover, the fact that the resolution promoted censorship and attacks on the right to freedom of expression should cause folks on the right to question why he was the only Republican who dared to vote against it. Of course, we already know why, don’t we? Too many of our lawmakers are too afraid to risk being slammed as antisemitic by the activist media when they could simply avoid it by casting a vote for some silly display of political theater.

But the fact that people would even support such a measure without thinking about it is disturbing. It speaks to the reality that Americans have allowed the government to grow more powerful and intrusive to the point that we expect it to handle all of society’s problems.

Many of us truly believe that by passing legislation, the state can somehow abolish bigotry. As I’ve written before, this story further shows how much we the people have abdicated our responsibility as Americans and human beings. It is not the government’s role to make us into decent people. The government can pass as many meaningless resolutions and hate crime bills as it wants. Their actions will not protect anyone, nor will they change people’s minds.

Instead of supporting Feel-Good Legislation™ designed to make it seem as if our elected officials are bringing solutions to the table, perhaps we would be better served by focusing on the protection of our natural rights. Maybe America will be great again when the populace decides to take it upon itself to address the ills of society for which we normally turn to the state to fix.

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