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Your Constitutional Rights Are Under Attack

“Wanted…Bloody Biden,” reads a sign on the lawn of City College’s Cloud hall. Students have set up tents on Ocean campus in support of Palestine. Photo by Seamus Geoghegan/The Guardsman

By Seamus Geoghegan

As college campuses across the country are forming encampments and asking that their universities divest from the State of Israel, the United States of America has responded by attacking protesters and undermining the constitutional rights of its citizens.

On May 2, after weeks of protests across American Universities, President Joe Biden officially addressed the protests for the first time, citing the “two fundamental American principles” being put to the test: Free speech and the rule of the law.

“Destroying property is not a peaceful protest, it’s against the law,” Biden said. “Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancellation of classes and graduations, none of this is a peaceful protest.”

With this statement, Biden has shown too much of his hand. In his mind, committing non-violent acts of civil disobedience is justification enough to send swarms of police into peaceful demonstrations, who have carried out violent attacks on students. 

Biden’s comments on Wednesday reflect a greater sentiment held by both Democrats and Republicans that speaking out against atrocities being committed by the U.S and its allies is wrong.

On April 13, protesters blocked off several lanes of traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. Their goal was to “Stop the world for Gaza,” blocking cars on the bridge to disrupt the economy.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) called for people to “take matters into your own hands,” and to remove “mobs blocking traffic” in response. 

Cotton has received over $200 thousand from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) according to the nonprofit OpenSecrets.

Reactionary responses to protests and harping on the left is nothing new. However, the move by bipartisan members of the House to approve legislation that hampers free speech is more than worrisome.

H.R. 6090, the “Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023,” would adopt the definition of anti-semitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), effectively banning speech that is critical of Israel.

Cotton, who referred to encampments for Palestinian liberation as ‘Little Gazas,’ and called them ‘cesspools on X, is a staunch supporter of the bill.

“This bill would throw the full weight of the federal government behind an effort to stifle criticism of Israel and risks politicizing the enforcement of federal civil rights statutes precisely when their robust protections are most needed,” American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Director of Democracy and Technology Christoper Anders said in a press release. “The Senate must block this bill that undermines First Amendment protections before it’s too late.”

While it looks like the bill will die on the Senate floor, the actions of both Republicans and Democrats to destabilize both ours and foreign democracies should be eye opening for all of us. 

The State of Israel has started their siege into Rafah. Meanwhile, our lawmakers are scrambling to pass legislation against “anti-semitism,” while continuing to send support to a State that is committing genocide.

Organizing protests to condemn those actions is not an act of violence. Occupying space on your campus in retaliation to that is not an act of violence. 

Resistance against cops who come to agitate is not an example of violent protest, it’s an example of State violence. 

‘Less-than-lethal’ bullets were shot directly at protesters by California Highway Patrol at UCLA. Highway patrol on a university campus is absurd enough, but going against training to fire projectiles directly at students is even more ludicrous.

The U.S. considers university property to be more important than the students attending them. It considers the lives of Palestinians to be worth much, much less.

Graphic courtesy of Sergio Olmos/CalMatters.

Here in America, news coverage of the atrocities committed against Palestinian people has always been censored. Most young Americans only became educated about the events through TikTok, an app the U.S. wants banned, last year. 

The murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11, 2022, almost two years ago, was one of the first major crimes committed by the State of Israel I remember. Since the ‘war’ has started, 92 Palestinian journalists have been confirmed to have been killed. That number is likely much higher.

Most of the media we consume can be traced to one of six mega-corporations. Even ‘reputable’ sources like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times were found to have heavily favored the State of Israel in their reporting, according to The Intercept.

On Press Freedom Day, the State of Israel raided Al Jazeera’s operations within occupied territory under the false pretense that the media organization was a security threat. Their coverage has been taken off local airwaves and their online presence within the State is now widely unaccessible.

It’s yet another example of how Israel, despite its claims, is not a democracy. It is an apartheid State with full support from the U.S., another colonial power with its own genocidal history.

None of this should negate the fact that anti-semitism is a huge global issue. Jewish people have been the targets of discrimination and violence for centuries. In the last decade alone, right-wing, anti-jewish rhetoric has been on the rise

But where was the police response to growing anti-semitic views not just here, but across the world? They stood by idly as bigots stormed the capital. Now, they stand by idly as Zionists attack students, including student journalists, on their campuses.

It is important to understand that zionist beliefs have anti-semetic consequences.  Zionism is actively harming Jewish students, professors, and journalists. The State of Israel uses Judaism as a weapon. Its practices have never reflected the ideals of the religion that it claims to represent.

A Jewish Professor at Dartmouth University, Annelise Orleck, was thrown to the ground by police for standing in their way.

“I have now been banned from the campus where I have taught for 34 years,” tweeted Orleck, who was previously the head of the Jewish Studies department at Dartmouth. “[Cops] tried to hurt me. They did hurt me. And they seemed to enjoy it.”

The U.S. has made it clear. In this two-party system, there is bipartisan support to undermine our constitutional rights. 

Seamus Geoghegan

they/them’s the facts

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