Discrimination of any kind is wrong, yet across America, conservatives are being discriminated against in the workplace and beyond for their political beliefs — beliefs they are entitled to hold and express in a democracy that permits many political parties and free elections. Not to mention the right to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment. Yet despite having this unalienable right, conservatives are being targeted in both the public and the private sectors.
It's no secret that conservative groups were targeted and harassed by the IRS during the Obama administration, illustrating that political discrimination exists within government agencies. And the fact that text messages exchanged between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page during and after the 2016 presidential election revealed extraordinary political bias raises legitimate concerns that our justice system is also being used as a political weapon.
Investigations into this matter by the Justice Department's inspector general and Congress are ongoing.
In the private sector, conservatives continue to be discriminated against at colleges and universities, as evidenced by right-wing speakers being threatened, verbally abused and outright banned from speaking events on campus. Additionally, many conservative students are afraid to speak their minds in the classroom or question the disproportionately liberal faculty. They fear that if they challenged "progressive" groupthink, they would face personal and academic reprisals.
Not surprisingly, a 2016 Gallup Poll revealed, "A slight majority of students, 54 percent, say the climate on their campus prevents some people from saying what they believe because others might find it offensive."
Yet the stark reality is that discrimination against conservatives isn't just contained to campus or taxpayer-funded agencies within our government. Far from it. Its impact is felt across industries, including in Hollywood, where those who work in the entertainment industry know full well that if they broadcast their conservative leanings or support for our president, they risk being blacklisted.
In Silicon Valley, a conservative engineer, James Damore, was fired from his job at Google because of a 10-page manifesto he wrote last summer challenging the tech giant's diversity policy — yet more evidence that voicing different opinions in the workplace can be a career liability. Last month, Damore filed a class action suit against Google in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, arguing, among other things, that Google has an "open hostility for conservative thought."
It's time for Congress to take action.
It should pass a bill forbidding any American to discriminate against others for their political convictions — just as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or sex. And there are anti-discrimination laws in place to protect those with disabilities, pregnant women and older people; why not add political affiliation?
From what we've seen so far, the time has come.
Adriana Cohen is a syndicated columnist with the Boston Herald. Follow her on Twitter @AdrianaCohen16. To find out more about Adriana Cohen and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.