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.
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
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
Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative
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.
National Prayer Network, P.O. Box 828, Clackamas,