Rep. Thomas Massie Is Only 'No' Vote on Bill Condemning Antisemitism

A Republican representative from Kentucky cast the only vote against a House resolution honoring Jewish Americans' heritage and denouncing a rise in violence motivated by antisemitism.

Representative Thomas Massie was the sole vote against the resolution, which passed the House with 420 votes, with eight Republicans abstaining from voting. Although the resolution passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support, Jewish advocacy groups were dismayed by Massie's vote on what they called a clear-cut issue. Massie, however, later said his opposition to the resolution was motivated by what's becoming a common concern among conservatives: infringement on free speech rights.

"I don't hate anyone based on his or her ethnicity or religion," Massie said in a tweet Thursday. "Legitimate government exists, in part, to punish those who commit unprovoked violence against others, but government can't legislate thought."

He added that the resolution "promoted internet censorship and violations of the 1st amendment."

Republican Representative Thomas Massie
Representative Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, was the sole vote against a House resolution denouncing violence spurred by antisemitism. Above, Massie is pictured outside the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on March 8, 2022. ANNA MONEYMAKE/GETTY IMAGES

Advocacy group StopAntisemitism said on Twitter earlier that it was "outraged" at Massie's vote against the resolution. The group also criticized Massie's refusal to fund Holocaust education, condemn a campaign to divest in Israel and for comparing COVID-19 restrictions to Nazi Germany.

"At a time when national politics is roiled by partisan rancor, it was easy for Democrats and Republicans to stand united against rising antisemitism," Melanie Maron Pell, chief field operations officer for the American Jewish Committee, told Newsweek in an email, also citing the representative's previous votes. "Easy for everyone except Massie."

Sponsored by Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, House Resolution 1125 states that generations of Jewish people have come to the U.S. fleeing "oppression, discrimination, and persecution."

The resolution notes that conspiracy theories maligning Jewish people have led to mass killings, particularly 6 million that died at the hands of the Nazis. However, the resolution cites a 2020 survey finding that younger generations did not know key facts about the Holocaust.

"Our story is woven into America's history through generations of leaders," Wasserman Schultz said on the House floor. "Yet as we honor the profound impact American Jews made on our national and culture, I must sadly acknowledge that the recognition and understanding that [Jewish American Heritage Month] seeks to foster is critically needed now more than ever."

She added the Anti-Defamation League said that antisemitic incidents are up 34 percent nationwide. Additionally, she cited an American Jewish Committee survey from 2021 that found nearly a quarter of American Jews had been targeted in the previous 12 months, and four in 10 people had changed their behavior out of concerns of being targeted.

Wasserman Schultz referenced how a gunman accused of opening fire on Black shoppers at a Buffalo supermarket this week espoused "replacement theory," the idea that elites are trying to replace whites economically and culturally. Some versions of the theory are antisemitic.

The resolution pointed to how antisemitic misinformation continues to flourish, and calls on "social media platforms to institute stronger and more significant efforts to measure and address online antisemitism while protecting free speech concerns."

Additionally, the resolution called for the U.S. to combat antisemitism and work with the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism, a group of lawmakers from Israel, the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K.

Republican Representative Steve Chabot said on the House floor he was "concerned about the references to government intervention in the online speech." Republicans have resisted calls for social media to crack down on disinformation, arguing that conservative viewpoints end up being censored. Chabot said he wished Democrats had done more to work with his side to address this concern.

"We cannot allow our shared desire to combat antisemitism to lead to censorship and control, which may only exacerbate the problem," he added.

Update 5/19/22, 4:30 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information and background.