Washington Square News is the student newspaper of New York University, but it is editorially and financially independent from the university, and has a circulation of about 60,000 in lower Manhattan -- one of the nation's foremost epicenters of the far Left. It is noteworthy and disquieting how quickly the restriction of the freedom of speech has become a fashionable opinion among the Leftist intelligentsia at universities and elsewhere, and how enthusiastically Leftists are embracing open foes of the freedom of speech like Reza Aslan and Mona Eltahawy as acceptable commentators on current events and even as heroes. Left fascism like that displayed by Aslan and Eltahawy increasingly threatens the freedom of all Americans.
"Have we taken free speech too far?," by Faria Mardhani in Washington Square News, September 26:
As of this week, anti-Islamic ads reading, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad” are legally being displayed in subways across New York City.
The ads are funded by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization co-founded by Pamela Geller who also co-founded the Stop Islamization of America.
Before discussing the implications of the ad, it is essential to clarify that these ads are anti-Islamic and not just pro-Israel. The Arab-Israeli conflict is fundamentally a political conflict: It is a conflict over lands that both parties consider rightfully their own. This ad is playing on the fact that the states that support Palestine militarily are a majority-Muslim; using the terms Jihad and Islam interchangeably. The ad is portraying the conflict as essentially religious rather than political, but what is most infuriating is that it is likening an entire faith to savagery.
This common claim doesn't become true by being oft-repeated. The ad doesn't actually mention Islam, so the assertion that it is "using the terms Jihad and Islam interchangeably" is in Faria Mardhani's mind, not in reality. Anyway, even if it were, would that really matter? Lost in the discussion is the question of whether the jihad against Israel, which is rooted in Islamic texts and teachings, is indeed savage, with its attacks on innocent civilians and gleeful celebration of those attacks by the populace.
The ad goes much further than only discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict. It sends an insulting message about Muslims worldwide. If we assume the ad is using Jihad and Islam interchangeably, it implies:
1. The battle for Israel is a war against all Muslims.
2. All Muslims are savages.
3. All Muslims are anti-Israel.
4. The term Jihad can loosely be defined as the Palestinian perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Absolutely none of this is implied in the ad. As Pamela Geller has often pointed out, if peaceful Muslims really oppose the violence that is being committed in the name of jihad and Islam, they should be standing with us. That they do not is telling.
The FDI incorrectly defines Jihad as a general Holy War without understanding the many facets of the true meaning of Jihad and the restrictions Islam places on Muslims concerning violence. They clearly lack accurate information about Islam and are hoping to prevent others from obtaining it with these ads.
I am all for people obtaining accurate information about Islam. I've written twelve books full of accurate information about Islam. The ad is not a treatise on jihad. All of this about "the restrictions Islam places on Muslims concerning violence" is irrelevant. The ad asks people to support Israel instead of supporting the savage jihad against it. That's all.
Although the Metropolitan Transportation Authority appealed the ads, a District Court Judge legalized the advertisements on the basis of the First Amendment. The United States is one of the only democracies in the world that does not prohibit hate speech that incites animosity toward certain groups of people even though acts like this are clearly insulting the spirit of the First Amendment. The U.S. legal system’s refusal to accept this minimizes equality among Americans and reduces America’s sense of democracy.
Note the Orwellian leap of logic: the less free people are to say what they think, the more democracy we will have. This is the Leftist and Islamic supremacist vision of democracy; it is rather akin to the elections held in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, when the ruling party would garner 99% of the votes.
If any group is targeted by hate speech, its dignity and its right to self-respect is not being protected by national law. These ads are framing Muslims and Americans as two groups with irreconcilable differences, categorizing Muslim Americans as non-Americans. The ads minimize the true citizenship that Muslims hold in America and subject Muslims to hostility, violence and discrimination. This is a clear lack of social security.
No one is guaranteed "dignity" and a "right to self-respect" by "national law." This is Sharia language, not American language: we see Islamic supremacists day in and day out in reports I post at Jihad Watch demanding respect, and brutalizing those whom they think are not giving it to them. If some group is guaranteed "dignity" and a "right to self-respect" by law, then by law it can censor what it believes impugns its dignity and self-respect. This group thus becomes a protected class that can carry out its agenda unimpeded by criticism or resistance. And that is the overall agenda here: to establish Muslims in just that position.
Several groups have been marginalized by regrettable actions in America’s history, including the open persecution of Jews, the Japanese, African-Americans and homosexuals. In all four cases, the disregarded group was only afforded second-class citizenship. These ads will prove that the U.S. legal system has not left that America in the past. The ads will open the door to more outright persecution of Muslims, providing an extension of colonization, of Orientalism and of imperialism. They will lead to the west and the east having a true “Clash of Civilizations” and delaying the process of learning about each other.
Hysteria: calling for resistance to jihad savagery, such as the cold-blooded murder of the Fogel family in Egypt, is opening the door to persecution of Muslims. Therefore we must not resist jihad savagery, and all will be well. Won't it?
The decision that the United States must now make is whether hate speech like this should be legal. Do values of free speech override the values of equality and of preventing profound personal offense to any singular group? Was the First Amendment passed with the intention of grouping very diverse people into one entity and then vilifying them? Living in America, we are constantly valorizing free speech, and in my opinion, this makes it easier to trample over other values. We must not forget that the United States is first a democracy that promises to protect all of its citizens and treat them with equality. An ad like this inherently creates a hierarchy within society, placing the civilized man or American at the top and the savage or the Muslim underneath. If the U.S. government is willing to overlook the dignity of Muslims to uphold what the FDI chooses to call free speech, it has very clearly failed to be a true democracy and protect its citizens.
There is the call: jettison the First Amendment. And make no mistake: this is coming, unless we act strenuously now to defend it and resist these calls for authoritarianism wherever and whenever they appear.