Although how fringy that fringe really is remains unclear — and he is already facing protests from Muslims who know how to use the language that Western non-Muslims will find most alarming.
From the Washington Post, with thanks to Andy:
LONDON, Aug. 5 — Prime Minister Tony Blair outlined fundamental changes in British policy and law Friday aimed at reining in what he called the “fanatical fringe” of the country’s 2 million Muslims following last month’s deadly train and bus bombings.
The measures, some of them effective immediately and others requiring approval by Parliament, include deporting people involved with radical Web sites, shutting down places of worship seen as “fomenting extremism,” and criminalizing speech deemed to justify or incite terrorism.
Good measures all. Why doesn’t the United States adopt similar ones?
“Let no one be in any doubt,” Blair said in a nationally televised news conference. “The rules of the game are changing.”
His program comes in response to growing public sentiment here that Britain has allowed itself to become a breeding ground for extremist Muslims from around the world, putting not only Britain at risk, but other nations as well.
“We’re angry about them abusing our good nature and our toleration,” Blair said. “Coming to Britain is not a right. And even when people have come here, staying here carries with it a duty. That duty is to share and support the values that sustain the British way of life.”
Excellent: “coming to Britain is not a right.” Nor is coming to the United States. “And even when people have come here, staying here carries with it a duty. That duty is to share and support the values that sustain the British way of life.” Or the American way of life.
His plan seemed set to win approval in Parliament, where the three major parties lined themselves up behind Blair after the attacks and rejected claims that Britain had brought the violence on itself by sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.
But his plan drew strong criticism from people who said he was sacrificing civil liberties in the name of security. In their view, Britain is echoing the United States’ response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Hardly. This talk from Blair is much stronger than anything we’ve seen here.
Blair’s endorsement of tighter regulation of speech — including words that justify violence — is particularly controversial in a nation that has prided itself on embracing a rainbow of cultures and religions and tolerating the most incendiary speech.
Why is it so hard for so many people to make the distinction between freedom of speech and speech that is directed toward the destruction of the society? Freedom of speech was not meant to be and should not be taken to be a death wish.