MONTGOMERY — Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the so-called Antisemitism Awareness Act, which aims to combat antisemitism on college campuses as anti-Israel protests are underway throughout the country.

However, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) warns that such an effort could be broadly interpreted as a way to chill all free speech.

In an interview with 1819 News, Alabama's senior U.S. Senator reacted to the antisemitic undertone of those protests and what potential policy fixes might exist.

"First of all, they just passed a bill in the House of Representatives against antisemitic talk," he said. "You've got to be careful with that. That's going after free speech."

"The line probably needs to be written because there is an unwritten line right now about free speech," Tuberville explained. "We can't keep people from saying what they think. The only thing the First Amendment stands for is that you cannot cross the line in terms of affecting other people's lives. There is all kinds of hate speech out there. If we're going to start curbing that, then you're going to take away rights of people."

One concern has been that foreign students allowed in the United States on a student visa bring those views to the college campus.

Tuberville suggested better vetting and a reevaluation of the entire process.

"In the past, we've never had that problem," he said. "We've had them at Auburn. We've had them at Alabama. All in the northeast — that's where they mostly go to. The environment has caused all over the world, we have got to do a better job of vetting people coming in, maybe limit more. I think we probably benefit some from people coming in. Look at Harvard — they let them in because they pay cash money, so they're doing it for a financial reason. I don't think that's the reason they should do it."

He continued, "I think we should have good foreign relations with other people but again, there are not a lot of people who have love for the United States outside our borders. We've got a lot within our borders, but there are a lot outside our borders that we're letting come in. And so, it is probably going to need to be reevaluated over the next few years — why we do it, who we do it, who we allow it to happen and they have to be thoroughly vetted to come in. There has got to be provisions put on and you're not staying here, you're going back."

According to Tuberville, one area that needed more scrutiny was the students from China who were allowed to study in the United States.

He argued the Chinese were sending students to the United States to return to Mainland China with research that was being developed into weaponry that could be used against the United States.

"You know, the young people coming in — it's a proven fact," Tuberville added. "They come here from China to do research and development. A lot of stuff goes back with them. We've got a Cold War, number two, going on with China. There's no doubt. And a lot of that Cold War is obviously through cyber, getting hacked, using everything we've done. Look, they've got a hypersonic missile and how did they get that?"

He continued, "It's been stolen from us. You know, we stopped doing the research for hypersonic years ago because of these never-ending damn wars we're involved in. Now we're trying to get back to it and we're years away from probably being able to develop that. But they've got one because they haven't fired a shot out of their country. Now, they've been on their borders and they've had some shots fired but not in another country. We've been fighting all these crazy wars and we're broke, They're not broke, so they are able to do that. All that being said, we spend billions and billions of dollars in research and development. We've allowed them to be able to take that research and development and develop weapons that can be used against us."

Jeff Poor is the editor in chief of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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