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José Oliva backs Senate resolution condemning white supremacy

Oliva says it seems easy to condemn white nationalism and white supremacy.

House Speaker José Oliva says the chamber will take up a resolution that condemns white nationalism and white supremacy if the Senate sends it to them.

The resolution (SR 214), sponsored by Miami Democratic Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez is in the Senate Rules Committee, its final committee stop. But the road through the committee process has been rocky at best. 

Oliva says he’s confident that while he needs to look at the resolution, they would vote on it.

“It sounds like condemning white nationalism and white supremacy is pretty easy,” he said. 

But the House companion (HR 51), sponsored by Rep. Anna Eskamani was never heard in its first committee, the Criminal Justice Subcommittee chaired by Republican Rep. Jamie Grant.

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The language singling out white nationalism and white supremacy for condemnation drew much controversy in the Senate. 

Rodriguez filed the resolution in September that condemned white nationalism and white supremacy as hateful expressions of intolerance. 

But the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee, chaired by Republican Tom Lee, passed a committee substitute removing the condemnation of white supremacy. The new language instead rejected 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 said Lee’s committee substitute created a false equivalency between hate and inclusion, similar to President Donald Trump saying after Charlottesville that there were “very fine people on both sides.” 

Rodriguez reinstated the language earlier this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The move drew opposition from some members of the public, with some of them accusing the resolution of being racist against white people.

David Caulkett, vice president of Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, spoke out against the resolution.

“The resolution is racist, divisive and has a negative societal benefit and is merely a golden opportunity for liberals to smear Republicans,” he said. “When the American principle of racial equality is superseded by Southern Poverty Law Center hate labels, isn’t the goal of racial equality a lost cause?”

The legislation was prompted in part by the August 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas where a gunman is believed to have posted a racist, anti-immigrant screed online before allegedly killing 22 people and wounding 26 others. It was also prompted by the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia Unite the Right rally where a white supremacist killed a counter-protester. 

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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