Folks maybe remember Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) for her efforts to secure reparations for Black Americans. (We are still very overdue for that 40 acres and a mule). But Rep. Jackson Lee has another fight on her hands this Congress.
Last week, she introduced the Leading Against White Supremacy Act. The bill is intended to “prevent and prosecute white supremacy inspired hate crime and conspiracy to commit white supremacy inspired hate crime.”
Polling suggests that Black Americans are pretty united on concerns over white supremacist violence. In a 2021 PBS poll, roughly 79 percent of Black Americans said that white supremacy is the “most lethal terrorist threat.”
It tracks that someone who represents a predominantly Black and minority district in a state like Texas would view white supremacy as a key agenda item.
But what does the bill actually do?
The biggest impact of the bill is how it defines conspiracy to commit a hate crime.
Under the conspiracy section, “a conspiracy to engage in white supremacy inspired hate crime shall be determined to exist,” if at least one person engages in planning or committing a white supremacist hate crime and the other person disseminates white supremacist information (including on social media).
That means people who post white supremacist conspiracy theories online could potentially face prosecution under the bill.
So let’s say Ben Shapiro spreads white supremacist talking points on Twitter, and someone reads that information and commits a white supremacist hate crime, both of them could be charged with conspiracy to commit a hate crime.
This isn’t the first time people have floated the idea of legal consequences for people who perpetuate white supremacy. After the mass shooting in a predominantly Black grocery store in Buffalo, New York, people said Fox News host Tucker Carlson should be held accountable for spouting talking points found in the shooter’s manifesto.
The bill, which she’s previously introduced, includes other measures to combat white supremacy, such as requiring the Department of Justice to track white supremacist inspired hate crimes, including those outlined by the bill.
It’s unlikely that a Republican-led House will pass the Leading Against White Supremacy Act, but it could be worth seeing where these ideas end-up in years to come.