Gagged in America. From loyalty oaths in Texas to Chicago city council’s vote against BDS, don’t criticize Israel.

During the anti-Communist Red Scare of the 50s, thousands of teachers lost their jobs, many for refusing to sign a loyalty oath. Loyalty oaths had become wide-spread across the country, fed by those like Joe McCarthy who warned of a Red under every bed.

In New York more than 250 teachers were forced out of teaching from 1948 to 1953 for refusing to agree to a loyalty oath.

When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld New York’s loyalty oaths, Justice William Douglas dissented and stated that “‘What happens under this law is typical of what happens in a police state. Teachers are under constant surveillance; their pasts are combed for signs of disloyalty; their utterances are watched for clues to dangerous thoughts. A pall is cast over the classroom…”

On the other side of the country, a dozen Los Angeles teachers were fired under the Dilworth Act for taking the Fifth Amendment in front of the Velde Committee, which the editor of California Teacher called “a pocket edition of McCarthy in Los Angeles”.

70 years later the loyalty oath controversy remains, but has shifted in a new direction.

American teachers, television commentators and even pension systems must swear loyalty to Israel.

In 2015 the Chicago City Council voted unanimously for the “Municipal Employees Annuity and Benefit Fun in Chicago to divest in companies engaged in economic boycott of Israel.”

That same year the Illinois legislature voted unanimously in favor of a similar bill impacting the state’s pension funds.

By the way, neither legislative body has been very conscientious about paying their share of their public employee pension obligation.

BDS, the call to boycott and divest in protest of Israeli policies towards Palestinians, became a topic that generated headlines in the Democratic Party primary for governor last year. State Senator Daniel Biss, running for governor and a supporter of the the anti-BDS law (which is what the pension bill essentially was) chose Chicago Alderman Carlos Rosa as his running mate for Lieutenant Governor.

That ticket blew up after both sides said they couldn’t reach agreement on BDS, even though Rosa, (a member of the Democratic Socialists of America) was one of the unanimous city council votes calling for pension divestment in companies that engaged in an Israeli economic boycott (In other words, Rosa was also an anti-BDS vote).

To be clear, advocating for and engaging in economic boycotts are forms of supposedly protected speech.

This week there was the news that a teacher, a speech pathologist in Texas was told that to continue her employment she had to sign a loyalty oath to Israel.

No other pledge was demanded from her.

Only loyalty to Israel.

A few weeks ago, CNN severed its ties to African American Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill for his critical comments about Israel.

CNN, of all news organizations, is noted for its line-up of anti-Trump commentators.

They have no room for one critical voice of Israel.

2 thoughts on “Gagged in America. From loyalty oaths in Texas to Chicago city council’s vote against BDS, don’t criticize Israel.

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