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UNSUNG HEROES OF HATE BILL DEFEAT
 

By Rev. Ted Pike
17 Dec 07

 

As Americans, we still enjoy freedom of speech after the spectacular defeat of the federal hate bill. We should credit those who made this victory possible. Our heroes include the 180 House Republicans who, to the possible detriment of Republican Mideast objectives, refused to vote for the arms/hate bill package. Just as vital were thousands of listeners to alternative talk radio. Their protest energized Republican opposition of the hate bill in the House, especially in the crucial five weeks after the hate bill was introduced in January. In fact, it is highly doubtful if the Republican House rebellion in November would ever have happened if it were not for the early, mass encouragement they provided.

Looking Back

In mid-November 2006, our National Prayer Network went on high alert to challenge lovers of freedom to call House Republicans and oppose the hate bill—which we accurately predicted would be introduced during the first week of January. I and my niece Harmony Grant spoke to thousands through alternative talk radio and e-alerts shared across the internet.

We had ample reason to be concerned and proactive. Democrats, uniformly supportive of hate laws, now controlled Congress. In 2004, even under Republican control, the Senate passed the hate bill 65-33. In 2005, the House passed it 223-199. It moved through the House Judiciary and was passed by the House in 45 minutes with no significant Republican protest!

We feared the hate bill could be pushed as quickly in the House during Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “first 100 hours” or soon after. This was an extremely dangerous time in our nation's history. Democrats, having passed the bill in both Senate and House Judiciary Committees in previous years, didn’t plan to hold hearings.  They could go forward almost immediately after a mere voice vote from Judiciary members. House Democrats knew they had the votes to pass it as a stand-alone bill, although Sen. Cornyn's office said they were four votes shy in the Senate.  The Democrats had the will; if the legislative calendar could accommodate it, the hate bill was in danger of passing Congress with blitzkrieg rapidity.

We knew from 1998 (when the hate bill was first introduced) that, without vocal pressure from constituents, House and Senate Republicans would mount virtually no opposition on the floor. Fortunately, partly as a result of repeated calls to action by the National Prayer Network and other conservative groups, the bill had often been stripped off in Republican-dominated conference between the House and the Senate. We were very concerned that a laid-back attitude still prevailed among Republicans in a new Democrat-controlled House; that would surely mean hate bill passage.

Silence from Conservatives

Incredibly, apart from the efforts of NPN and response from our listeners and readers on the far right, Christians and conservatives seemed unaware of this imminent threat.

In early January 2007, NPN posted at www.truthtellers.org the names of all House Judiciary members and their 8 to 10 influential legislative aides.  Through repeated radio interviews (36 in January alone), e-alerts and frequent postings on rense.com, I directed many thousands of calls to the Judiciary, hammering the hate bill and encouraging Republicans to fight. Public response to our calls to action was heavy. In only two days, a posting at rense.com brought 8000 visitors to truthtellers.org to print out my brochure, “Hate Laws will make You a Criminal.”  Many were sent to House Judiciary Republicans and Democrats, as well as their aides. For nearly four months, such input continued, with thousands of calls storming Washington .

Hate bill promoters in the House did not expect such an initial barrage of opposition -- even before the hate bill was introduced. They had no idea where it was coming from; it gave the impression of a spontaneous national outpouring of concern. Rather than moving the hate bill through quickly, they waited until they could be sure they had enough votes to pass it in the Senate. This fatal delay gave us precious weeks to convince House Republicans that defeat of the hate bill was a red-hot issue they should vigorously pursue. House Republicans appreciated our support because they knew they could no longer count on stripping off the hate bill in conference, now dominated by Democrats.

Toward the end of January 2007, we saw the first crack in the hate bill agenda: House staffers indicated Rep. Jackson-Lee was having trouble finding a co-sponsor!

New Right Awakens

For five weeks, from hate bill introduction on January 5 to February 15th, the forces of the far right battled the hate bill alone. Most conservative “watchdog” groups seemed oblivious even to its presence in the House. If they did know, they were doing virtually nothing - even though I had been warning them for months via e-alerts.

On February 14th NPN emailed an emergency alert to Bob Unruh, writer on hate laws issues for World Net Daily. Within only 8 hours, Unruh published a blockbuster article, quoting me extensively.  Immediately, participation of the religious right exploded. Focus on the Family, AFA, FRC, Traditional Values Coalition and Concerned Women for America took up the cry against the hate bill. Perhaps millions of their supporters protested to Congress.

By the time the religious right entered the fray, the hate bill had been so tarnished by opposition that hate bill supporters, led by Rep. John Conyers, decided to start over. Rather than continue with Jackson-Lee’s short version of the hate bill, they would substitute the larger version (Amdt. 2662) that passed the House two years earlier, complete with its impressive list of 137 sponsors. Their plan was to rush it through quickly, so it would not be soiled by bad publicity.

The liberal Jewish community in America rallied behind Conyers, vowing to exert massive pressure on House members. (See, Jewish Left, Christian Right Square Off for Hate Bill Battle) Yet spring recess allowed conservative groups to educate their followers about the dangers of hate crimes legislation. Apart from Robert L. Knight, the religious right had not been doing much original thinking, but articles began to appear. FRC, Coral Ridge Ministries and Faith2Action produced and widely distributed videos against hate crime laws. 

By the time hearings finally began in the House Judiciary in late April, the new bill had become as controversial as Jackson-Lee's. The "brilliant" ploy of Conyers, ADL and the Jewish community had fizzled. As a result of expanding opposition, Conyers, head of the House Judiciary Committee, was forced into a huge strategic mistake—he allowed hearings on the hate bill! When, after nearly four months of delays caused by the right, the hate bill finally went forward into House Judiciary hearings, feisty energized Republicans vocally opposed it.  At least 11 Republicans resisted the Democrat majority at every step, proposing no fewer than 11 amendments.

Two years earlier this same legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee with hardly a whimper. But because listeners to alternative talk radio and then mainstream conservatives gave fight and support to these Republicans, the Judiciary hearings became a high-drama airing of grievances against the hate bill which reverberated through Congress. The hearings became an embarrassment and delay that Conyers and other Democrats deeply regretted.

Standing in the Gap

In short, it was such militancy from conservatives that, in the first months of 2007, helped transform House Republicans into an informed focused fighting force against the hate bill. Because pressure of this magnitude was never applied to the Senate, Republicans there largely behaved like Republican members of Congress have since 1998: they sat largely mute and let the bill pass. (Watch, Second Chance for Freedom: Defeating the Hate Bill)

Although the hate bill did pass the House on May 3 as a result of overwhelming Democratic power, House Republicans put up heroic resistance.  Such opposition continued through the spring to defeat or delay at least five pieces of freedom-threatening legislation.  It clearly remained until Nov. 15th when it was reported that 180 House Republicans would vote against the long overdue arms bill rather than approve it with the hate bill attached.  Such efforts, aided (for different reasons) by about 77 Democrats, spelled hate bill defeat when Democratic leaders decided to strip the hate bill off the arms bill in conference.

Many others, including rense.com andthe 37 talk show hosts who aired me on 209 national interviews in the 13 months prior to hate bill defeat, deserve our deepest appreciation.  Yet greatest credit goes where it should be - to the many thousands of Americans from alternative talk radio and internet.   They stood in the gap during a time of gravest national emergency - and saved freedom.

 

 



Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.

Let the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith teach you how they have saddled 45 states with hate laws capable of persecuting Christians: http://www.adl.org/99hatecrime/intro.asp.

Learn how ADL took away free speech in Canada and wants to steal it now in the U.S. Congress. Watch Rev. Ted Pike's Hate Laws: Making Criminals of Christians at video.google.com. Purchase this gripping documentary to show at church. Order online at www.truthtellers.org for $24.90, DVD or VHS, by calling 503-853-3688, or at the address below.

TALK SHOW HOSTS: Interview Rev. Ted Pike on this topic. Call (503) 631-3808.

 

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