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Congressman Tom McClintock

Free Speech is the Cure and Not the Cause of Antisemitism

When the Presidents of MIT, Harvard and University of Pennsylvania were invited to denounce open race-hatred on their campuses, they wrapped themselves in the mantle of free speech. People have a right to say what they think as long as it doesn’t become threatening conduct, they said, and on this narrow point they’re right. But that doesn’t explain why antisemitism is rampant on their campuses. It is not a tolerance for outrageous speech that is the problem – it is a complete intolerance of patriotic speech.

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, the two most intolerant and oppressive universities in the country are Harvard and UPenn. MIT ranks 136th out of 254 universities surveyed.

How is it possible that such depraved and discredited philosophies as Marxism, totalitarianism, racism, Islamic-fascism and antisemitism now flourish on these college campuses? Because for years, the antidote to these social pathologies – the American founding principles of freedom, democracy, tolerance, and justice that have always kept them in check — have been systematically suppressed and removed from campus discussions.

A generation ago, only the lunatic fringe of our society would deny or minimize the Holocaust, or cheer the slaughter of innocents in their cribs, or praise the fascist governments that produce such horrors. The spectacle of university presidents maintaining that genocide was a contextual matter would have been absurd. Why? Because people of good will had the freedom to present the other side – and the other side was always compelling.

The only way to separate truth from lies, or wisdom from folly, or good from evil, is to place the two side by side and then trust the common sense and good judgment of the American people to know the difference. This free exchange of ideas is the beating heart of Democracy. It is the sole purpose for which this Capitol was constructed. We have based our entire form of government on the assumption that more than half the people are right more than half the time. But it assumes people have the full and unfettered freedom to express themselves and to challenge the claims and opinions of each other. In such an exchange, the good, the moral, the wise and the right will ultimately rise to the top.

There are only two ways to resolve disputes among human beings: reason and force. The American Founders built an empire of reason enshrined in the First Amendment. Freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, and of peaceful assembly are the very tools that Americans have used for two and a half centuries to resolve our differences civilly and chart a path to a better future.

But in this Brave New Orwellian woke world we have entered, SPEECH in OPPOSITION to leftist views is VIOLENCE; violence in SUPPORT of leftist views is speech; racial discrimination is social justice; and force rather than reason is the legitimate way to resolve our differences. They tell us that shouting down opponents, disrupting civil discussions, rioting in the streets, threatening or even practicing violence against opponents, is freedom of speech. The ultimate expression of this rot is the moral confusion that sees the killing of babies as a legitimate way to resolve grievances.

Polls on campuses tell us that the vast majority of college students fear even expressing views that conflict with leftist orthodoxy. We are now learning that the federal government itself colluded with tech companies to deny the American people crucial facts and analysis over everything from covid to the Russian collusion hoax to Biden family influence peddling. Major newspapers that once thrived on vigorous debate have said they won’t even print opinions contrary to leftist orthodoxy on climate change.

Free societies do not fear words and thoughts, even those that are hateful, ugly, evil or obscene – because the same freedom that protects these darkest impulses of our nature also protects the right of men and women of good will to confront them, expose them and reject them.

This is what these university presidents and their many confederates have taken from our campuses, and this is what the left is taking from our society. And this is what we must restore if we are to resume the upward path toward peace, prosperity, happiness and justice that our freedom assures and that our First Amendment protects.

House floor remarks delivered December 13, 2023