Things in our state capitol are not always what they seem to be. April has been no exception.
A bill described by opponents as an assault on free speech, democracy, and on our constitutionally protected rights passed the Legislature, barring the state from contracting with companies that participate in an economic boycott of a repressive, apartheid government, Israel. Opponents argued at a public hearing that the bill was dangerous and anti-democratic. [Note: Norwegian MP Bjørnar Moxnes has nominated the international protest movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions for the Nobel Peace Prize!]
On the Easter weekend, following passage of the Wisconsin bill, a thousand unarmed Palestinian protesters were shot, injured, or killed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza. Where was the outrage?
There was no outrage. On the following Monday, Governor Walker signed legislation making it illegal for Wisconsin companies to participate in an economic boycott of what South Africa calls, “the only state in the world that can be called an apartheid state”
Further doubling down on the anti-democratic theme of the law, it also prohibits state agencies and local governments from establishing their own policies on boycotting Israel.
“As governor, I will restore local control to counties and municipalities.”
Gov. Scott Walker on the campaign trail.
In contrast to his campaign rhetoric, time and again, Governor Walker has signed legislation into law which has either restricted the authority of local elected officials or imposed burdensome mandates on local governments.
The right to organize boycotts, to marshal economic pressure to effect political change, is protected under the First Amendment,” explains the National Lawyers Guild.
The American Civil Liberties Union has argued that a similar Arizona law violates the First and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution by forcing contractors “to disavow their participation in political boycotts.” Wisconsin taxpayers must now be prepared to pay to defend restrictions on civil rights in Wisconsin!
Human Rights Watch reports that fifty years after Israel illegally occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, “it controls those areas through repression, institutionalized discrimination, and systematic abuses of the Palestinian population’s rights.”
Walker “has long supported the State of Israel,” bragged the governor’s press secretary. “He believes the United States has a vested interest in seeing Israel succeed.” Yes, well then, wouldn’t Israel be more successful and peaceful if it treated Palestinians in the way in which Israelis wish to be treated? Then there would be no boycotts.
But, now, in our name, the State of Wisconsin supports an apartheid regime which violates human rights by prohibiting economic protests in Wisconsin intended to encourage reform. Shame!
The Preamble of the Platform of the Libertarian Party of Wisconsin affirms, “As Libertarians, we defend each person's right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest and we welcome the diversity that freedom brings. We seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals control their own lives and are never forced to compromise their values or sacrifice their property. We believe that no conflict exists between civil order and individual rights and that individuals, groups, or governments should not initiate force against other individuals, groups, or governments.”
James Maas, Chair
Marathon County Libertarians