On Thursday, the House Education and the Workforce (EdWork) Committee held its fifth hearing about antisemitism on college campuses. The hearing titled “Calling for Accountability: Stopping Antisemitic College Chaos” was about as bonkers as you would imagine. While there may not have been many fireworks, there was a lot of flawed logic and mental gymnastics at play.

Republicans tried to make their points citing only the parts about campus protests that benefited their flawed logic. The same party known not only for its antisemitic conspiracy theories but also for leading the attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) now wants us to believe that they suddenly support DEI on college campuses.

While it may seem contrary to witness far-right and largely racist actors suddenly take sides with Israel, it’s a growing trend that has been noted

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) goes full Islamophobe and uses demeaning language when discussing Palestinians and ceasefire protesters

On Monday, a letter from hundreds of Jewish professors, law professors, and academics urged Democrats to “protect higher education and reject the cynical antisemitism narrative” at the May 23 EdWork Committee hearing. The groups anticipated continued attacks by Republicans who have yet to propose anything to counter growing hate and racial animus across the country due in large part to their very own rhetoric.

“Multiple groups of Jewish professors and law professors renewed their call for House Democrats on the Education and Workforce Committee to stoutly defend universities and academics against escalating rightwing attacks,” the statement reads. “Looking ahead to Thursday’s House Committee hearing, the university professors urged Committee Democrats to forcefully counter the House GOP’s naked weaponization of antisemitism to smear political opponents, justify the violent repression of peaceful protest, and discredit higher education.”

Did Democrats come to counter the false accusations of antisemitism? Not really. Most just to the left of far-right conservative lawmakers fell right in line making some of the same allegations with little to no basis. In other words, their rhetoric was mostly hyperbolic, suggestive, and largely not based on reality. However, some Democrats did call out Republican hypocrisy and their disingenuous narrative to portray anything as antisemitic.

Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) calls out the disingenuous Republican fearmongering about antisemitism

At the core of the disagreement between the academics who signed the letter and members of Congress are the attacks on an agreement by Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway with the Gaza solidarity encampment in New Brunswick, NJ. In their letter to EdWork Committee Democrats, professors highlighted the wave of powerful statements from Jewish professors and law professors who support peaceful protests.

The letter denounced political attacks on free speech, universities, and academics while also addressing the dangers falsely accusing people of antisemitism can have on the Jewish American community.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) had the most rational discussion at the committee hearing on antisemitism. It was one of the only sensible moments during the whole thing

Nearly 1,300 Concerned Jewish Faculty Against Antisemitism signed the letter expressing unease about the Republican talking point of conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism. The letter also discussed how doing so undermines the safety of American Jews and “delegitimize[s] and silence[s] Jewish Americans–among others–who advocate for Palestinian human rights or otherwise criticize Israeli policies.”

“If our leaders are earnestly concerned with antisemitism, they should join hundreds of Jewish scholars from across the globe who have endorsed alternative definitions of antisemitism–such as those contained in the Nexus Document or Jerusalem Declaration,” reads the letter. “Unlike the IHRA definition, these documents offer meaningful tools to combat antisemitism without undermining Jewish safety and civil rights by insulating Israel from legitimate criticism.”

It’s hard to take Republicans tackling antisemitism or any form of hate seriously considering how divisive and often racist their language is. While bigotry is not new and has rarely been subtle in U.S. politics, the connections between lawmakers and hate groups have rarely been as evident as they are now.

When people who peddle antisemitic conspiracy theories tell you you’re the one being antisemitic, they’re simply employing the same tactic that has them saying you’re the racist for your calling out racism. It’s an old tactic that hasn’t worked in decades.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) highlights the parts of the conversation her colleagues won’t address 

When it comes to redefining what words mean to suit their needs, one only has to look at conservatives and their politics throughout U.S. history to see who is known for doing it. And yet, here they are. Republicans are acting as if it hasn’t been a tool of white Christian nationalism (aka white supremacy) to oppress nonwhite groups for centuries.

In our current environment, the commonality shared among extremists making false accusations is rooted in the Islamophobia that has been prevalent in the U.S. since 9/11. This media-hyped animus has been common for decades across multiple racial, ethnic, and political lines. That won’t change until people begin to realize that Islamophobia in the West is a white supremacist idea–a white Christian nationalist tool to oppress yet another nonwhite group.

On that note, here’s Rep. Elise Stefanik losing her shit at the Thursday hearing.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) seems dumbfounded as she realizes what she thought to be true actually wasn’t

Okay, okay. One more of Stefanik going bonkers.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) had a second chance to speak after Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) ceded the rest of his time to her. Here, she seems frustrated by her misunderstanding of a press release

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Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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