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Tom Lee responds to backlash to removing ‘white supremacy’ from resolution on rejecting hateful ideologies

Sen. Tom Lee said he’s open to adding language on white nationalism back.

Senate Infrastructure and Security Chairman Tom Lee said Tuesday he’s open to adding back language condemning white supremacy to a committee substitute resolution that passed his committee yesterday.

Miami-Dade Democratic State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez filed a resolution (SR 214) in September that condemns white nationalism and white supremacy as hateful expressions of intolerance. 

Republican Spring Hills Republican state Sen. Wilton Simpson also filed a bill (SR 222) rejecting white nationalism and white supremacy in September. State Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, has similar legislation (HR 51) before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee next week.  

The legislation was prompted in part by the August 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas where a gunman who is believed to have posted a racist, anti-immigrant screed online before allegedly killing 22 people and wounding 26 others.

But the committee passed a substitute resolution removing that language and instead approving language that rejects any ideology or philosophy that advocates the superiority of one of group of people over another because of race, color, national origin, sex or religion as hateful, dangerous and morally corrupt expressions of intolerance.

Rodriguez, who was unable to make it to yesterday’s committee meeting because of a flight cancellation, commented to the Miami New Times that he was dismayed they took “white supremacy” out of the resolution.

Lee says he’s not married to the language, but he wants it to be a bipartisan effort.

“There’s all kinds of hate out there and to pick on one group almost seems like you’re discriminating against people who have lost loved ones in other settings unrelated to white nationalism,” he said. “We don’t have a white nationalism problem, we have a hate problem.”

FBI director Christopher Wray told Congress last July that the majority of domestic-terrorism arrests since October 2018 have been linked to white supremacy.  

Tampa Democrat state Sen. Janet Cruz offered a late filed amendment specifically condemning white nationalism and white supremacy and also rejecting intolerance because gender identity and sexual orientation. She withdrew it after Lee said he was concerned that the language could affect its chance of passing both chambers.  

Lee said Tuesday the amendment would remove rejection of incels from the resolution. Incels are men who blame women for their involuntary celibacy.

A man who hated women walked into a Tallahassee yoga studio in November 2018 and opened fire, killing two women and injuring five other people. 

Written By

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to sarah@floridapolitics.com.

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