Megyn Explains Why the House-Passed Antisemitism Bill Poses a Threat to the First Amendment

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

In the wake of the Hamas terror attacks against Israel on October 7, there has been a rise in antisemitic language and behavior around the globe. The anti-Israel encampments on college campuses in the United States in recent weeks has only further highlighted the hate, but a bill that just passed the House of Representatives may go too far to course correct.

On Tuesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Vivek Ramaswamy, host of The Truth Podcast, to discuss the Antisemitism Awareness Act and the danger it poses to free speech in America.

Redefining Antisemitism

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed legislation aimed at codifying the definition of antisemitism. The bill – which passed by a 320 to 91 margin with overwhelming bipartisan support – seeks to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism into Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In 2016, the IHRA adopted a non-legally binding definition of antisemitism that states:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

According to the group, “manifestations” could include “the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity” or “accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.”

If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the Department of Education would be able to use this broader definition of antisemitism to enforce anti-discrimination laws on college campuses.

Free Speech Fight

Detractors of the bill fear the expanded interpretation would undercut the freedom of speech, and Megyn was inclined to agree. “Time and time again, we are seeing absurd examples of [antisemitic] behavior,” she said. “But, as with anything in America, we overreact to the news of the day.”

She called the language in the bill “crazy” and a threat to the First Amendment. “It is not illegal to be a racist, to be a bigot, to be an antisemite, to be a transphobe in America; it is illegal to make hiring and firing decisions based on that or harassment based on that,” she explained. “We have lost our way if this thing passed as healthfully as it did.”

In Ramaswamy’s view, the legislation flies in the face of what makes the U.S. unique. “America is a place where you get to express any opinion,” he said. “I do think it is heinous to be able to make comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany. It’s disgusting. But it is an opinion and what makes America great, what makes America itself, is that you get to express those things.”

Some 21 Republicans joined 70 Democrats in voting against the bill, and Ramaswamy believes those on the right who supported it have lost the long game. “What the conservative movement should be doing is standing for the ideals that this country was founded on and use that to lead the deranged, mentally ill, gen Z and generationally lost members of the other side to say, ‘Hey, here’s what it means to be an American,'” he said. “Instead, what [they’re] doing… is adopting the same methods of the left in a way that actually erodes our own moral authority to talk about things like free speech.”

You can check out Megyn’s interview with Ramaswamy by tuning in to episode 784 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.