Ilhan Omar, the courageous Congress member from Minnesota, has introduced a bill affirming that Americans have the right to participate in economic boycotts for political purposes.
The legislation doesn’t specifically mention the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, but the BDS movement (which some free speech deniers want to make advocating for a crime), would be covered.
House Resolution 496 asserts that boycotts “have been effectively used in the United States by advocates for equal rights since the Boston Tea Party and include boycotts led by civil rights activists during the 1950s and 1960s in order to advocate for racial equality, such as the Montgomery bus boycott, and promote workers’ rights, such as the United Farm Workers-led boycott of table grapes.”
It also identifies historical moments when Americans participated in boycotts to push human rights in other countries: the boycotting of Imperial Japan during the late 1930s, the boycotting of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1941, the boycotting of the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow, and the boycotting of South Africa.
Omar’s bill currently has two cosponsors: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).
Omar’s bill comes in the wake of a law requiring Texas teachers to sign a loyalty oath to Israel.
In 2015 the Illinois legislature passed a bill that calls for our public pension funds to disinvest in any companies participating in an economic boycott of Israel.
I pointed out at the time the irony of a legislative body that has consistently underfunded our pension system using the funds for political purposes.
But the bill was passed unanimously.
So was a similar bill in the Chicago City Council.
Once again, thank you Congress member Omar for understanding what the first amendment means. Sometimes even our most progressive legislators seem to forget.