In an attempt to silence the growing social movement that seeks to use Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) to protest Israeli violations of Palestine human rights, the New York State Senate has passed a sweeping bill that would insulate “US allies” from boycotts. To avoid being criticized for singling out one viewpoint for censure, the bill prohibits the state from doing business with any people or companies that are boycotting any of approximately 52 “US allies”. As a result, a number of social movements could be ensnared in the New York State Legislature’s political repression.
Today the nation celebrates the legacy of Martin Luther King. While he is now a national hero with a federal holiday, throughout his life he was hounded by the very same government, especially Hoover’s FBI, as they desperately tried to crush the civil rights movement.
Maryland may be the free state, but for the second time in three years the Maryland General Assembly may consider legislation to kill free speech rights for those who take a dissenting view on the Middle East. We have learned that several legislators are planning to introduce a bill that will deny state contracts to individuals or businesses engaged in boycotts aimed at Israel to protest human rights violations.
Calls for limitations on free speech in response to ISIS threats are rolling in, right on cue. The First Amendment protects speech, including radical or “dangerous” speech. If our strength as a nation derives from our civil liberties then weakening free speech will not help us. The entire idea of destroying the Bill of Rights in order to save it is so bizarre that one is left questioning whether the politicians and pundits proposing such measures are really interested in saving the Bill of Rights at all, or if they are just justifying a long-held desire to weaken civil liberties and suppress ideas of which they disapprove.
We are delighted to honor former CIA agent and whistleblower John Kiriakou with the first Patriot Award of 2016! Join us in appreciation of his courage and sacrifice in exposing torture and campaigning against solitary confinement.
Turkey’s recent press crackdown highlights the bad example the US – and the Obama Administration – sets for the rest of the world. Given the similarities to Obama’s War on Whistleblower, isn’t it time we start applying the same standards at home? If we don’t, can we really complain when leaders around the world view our own actions as a green light to crackdown on the press in their own countries?
Most of us responded to the twin horrors of the terrorist attack in Paris and the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis with expressions of grief and solidarity. However a handful of politicians have instead shamelessly exploited these situations to promote a range of racist and anti-civil libertarian policies, including obstruction of refugee resettlement programs.