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Video: Discord and Destruction on College Campuses

Hans von Spakovsky

First Amendment to justify violence, intimidation, and thuggery in support of Hamas, according to Heritage Foundation scholar Hans von Spakovsky.

The people Americans have witnessed screaming anti-Semitic epithets, assaulting students and faculty and destroying property are nothing more than “hooligans”, von Spakovsky told a Jewish Policy Center webinar May 9.

He noted that government has long been understood to have the authority to regulate the time, place and manner of demonstrations.

The protection of peaceful expression of one’s beliefs has been a core concept of freedom since the founding of the republic. Shortly after the October 7 pogrom, von Spakovsky watched from his office a rally of thousands of Americans in support of Israel.

“There was no violence, no takeover of buildings” or attempt to threaten bystanders, he said, adding that the U. S. government has ample authority under existing law to act against pro-terror students, especially those who are not U. S. citizens.

Von Spakovsky emphasized that the Supreme Court has held that government can exclude aliens from a wide array of activities that include voting, serving on juries, working as police officers or teaching at public schools.

Under that logic, anti-Semitic agitators who are aliens — whether they are in the United States legally or illegally— do not “have a First Amendment right that prevents them from being deported, particularly given their approval of mass murder in Israel,” he said.

Moreover, any of these individuals who destroy or deface property, impede traffic, target Jews or police or attempt to intimidate someone and are federal, state or local employees should lose their jobs, von Spakovsky added. And if they have a security clearance, it should be revoked.

“Racist supporters of terrorism” should “not be in government at any level” and are “an obvious threat to our national security,” he said.

The pro-Hamas hooligans who are on the rampage on campuses across America are analogous to the Ku Klux Klan in numerous ways, von Spakovsky said. These include their virulent anti-Semitism, the use of violence to achieve their political aims, and the wearing of masks to disguise their identities.

Under a federal statute, 18 U.S.C. 241, individuals are barred from “going in disguise” to deny other Americans their rights, such as attending a university.

“If it were the Klan, nobody would oppose taking action against it,” the Heritage Foundation scholar added. “You can easily prosecute someone for wearing a mask.
But the Justice Department refuses to act.”

And, like DOJ, local prosecutors in deep-blue regions of the country have shown little interest in holding violent pro-Hamas individuals accountable for their actions.

Cities like New York and Boston have “radical, left-wing prosecutors who don’t want to take action,” Von Spakovsky said.

There are, however, some very positive developments, particularly in red states.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed through legislation barring so-called Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs — often used to foment racial division and build support for radical anti-Israel activism.

At Ole Miss, students themselves headed off an effort to foment violence by pro-Hamas activists. At the University of Texas, police deployed quickly against pro-Hamas militants threatening to turn the Austin campus into a battlefield.

In North Carolina, university officials took down a Palestinian flag put up by Hamas supporters and replaced it with the American flag.

One of the best ways to stand up to pro-terror propagandists is to monitor their propaganda and hold them accountable for pro-terror propaganda. After 4 student groups at Harvard Law School signed a pro-terror statement, conservative activist J. Christian Adams went to their websites and published the names of their leaders, who lost job offers they had lined up.

Von Spakovsky took issue with apologists who say that such students shouldn’t be penalized for pro-Hamas statements because they are young people who didn’t know any better.

Either they made the statements knowing what they were talking about or made them in total ignorance, he noted.

Young people like everyone else “have to be held accountable,” he said.