Reform movement detaches from fighting bigotry

On January 31, 1865 the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed by the House of Representatives. In simple terms, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and gave the United States Congress the power “to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” The recent stance taken by the U.S. Reform movement stating that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism should not be law because it may infringe on free speech ignores two main facts.

First, those who drafted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism openly and repeatedly state that the definition is not legally binding. In fact, the definition itself begins with, “Adopt the following non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism.” One could argue that the stance taken by the US Reform movement is performative, seeking to appease the increasingly bigoted radical left since one of their main opposition points to the adoption of the IHRA definition is that “The definition should not be codified into a policy that would trigger potentially problematic punitive action to circumscribe speech,” completely ignoring that the definition explicitly takes the position that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is not legally binding.

Second, the codification of anti-hate, anti-racist speech should be supported and celebrated by those who value a free and fair society. This is a very odd time we find ourselves in, where self-proclaimed progressives openly embrace bigotry clothed as liberation is surreal. The 13th Amendment is just one example where the United States government codified liberatory, anti-discriminatory ideology. I can’t help but wonder whether the U.S. Reform movement will come out against this because it can challenge not only free speech, but the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness of those who would profit from the enslavement of others. I know that this may be a ridiculous notion. However, it is important to raise awareness for and encourage the discussion of what happens when progressives give in to double-standards that we are used to seeing from those on the opposing end of the horseshoe.

The codification of discrimination is something that we should all be able to support. Defining anti-Semitism, bigotry, discrimination, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, etc., should be something that the U.S. Reform movement should be able to get behind without question. It is disappointing, to say the least, that such a prominent group would engage in the same type of double-standard that the IHRA definition works against.

About the Author
Brandy Shufutinsky is a social worker, with a MSW from the University of Southern California and a MA in International Relations from the University of San Diego. She hopes to utilize her advocacy in social justice on a global level, working towards making education more accessible to immigrant populations. She has previously been published in The Forward. Brandy is working on a doctoral degree at the University of San Francisco in International Multicultural Education.
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