My Human Events column this week concerns an advancing threat that most Americans have no idea even exists.
Freedom of speech is in imminent danger. Concerted attacks on it by the jihadist movement are increasing in number here and in countries that share America’s dedication to free speech.
Mark Steyn, the author of “America Alone,” is on trial in Canada for inciting hatred against Muslims in an article adapted from that book. Pakistan just asked the European Union to restrict freedom of expression so as to curb “offenses to Islam.” Finland recently gave a blogger 2 1/2 years in prison for “insulting Islam.” When Dutch police arrested the cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot, Amsterdam’s public prosecutor explained: “We suspect him of insulting people on the basis of their race or belief, and possibly also of inciting hate.” Against Muslims, of course.
Doudou DiÃ¨ne, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, recently came to the United States, where he held a hearing in Miami on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim discrimination. At the hearing he met with ex-Council on American-Islamic Relations operative Ahmed Bedier, who explained to him “how Islamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric by officials and pundits are contributing to hate crimes against Muslims across Florida.”
I doubt that Ahmed Bedier could provide even one scrap of evidence for the assertion that there has been an increase of hate crimes against Muslims in Florida, much less show any causal link between statements by any official or pundit, and any of those hate crimes. But the most important aspect of this is the spectacle of an American Muslim activist meeting with a UN official who is interested in restricting freedom of speech in order to combat “Islamophobia.”
Spurious charges of “Islamophobia,” and false claims that hate crimes are being committed because of it, are being used to advance an anti-free speech agenda. Americans need to be aware of what’s happening, and resist it at every turn.
Jeremy Waldron, a legal philosopher, wrote in The New York Review of Books last month that “a liberal democracy must take affirmative responsibility for protecting the atmosphere of mutual respect against certain forms of vicious attack.” That means muzzling speech which the stealth jihadists consider such an “attack.” The New York Times recently quoted Waldron favorably, in a story that glided from the Canadian case against Mark Steyn to a discussion of Nazis and racial epithets, without a hint of the fact that what Steyn said was both factual and worlds away from Nazism or racism. What Steyn wrote was essentially a straightforward presentation of Islamic supremacist statements made by Muslims.
If that’s hate speech, so was reporting what Hitler said in 1935.
The problem with laws against “hate speech,” such as those in Canada under which Steyn is being prosecuted, is that “hate speech” is in the eye of the beholder. Our First Amendment isn’t designed to protect speech that is popular: that would make it redundant. Rather, it is designed to protect speech that is unpopular with any group, even the majority of Americans.
Laws against “hate speech” become weapons in the hands of those who wield political power, or who are jockeying for that power: they are weapons to silence their opponents. The Times will never tell you, of course, that there is a worldwide and ongoing movement by Islamic jihadists and their allies (and useful idiots in the media) to label all critical examination of Islamic supremacism as “hate speech.”
And who will be the chief beneficiary if they succeed? The Islamic supremacists, and only the Islamic supremacists. We will be mute and hence defenseless in the face of the jihadist onslaught.
Many times, groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations have classified true statements about Islam and jihad as “hateful.” Several years ago CAIR began a campaign against National Review magazine because of a biography of Muhammad the magazine was then advertising; CAIR did not specify that anything in the book or National Review’s advertisement for it was inaccurate though nothing was. This phenomenon has recurred several times since then. We are now in danger, under the guise of forbidding “hate speech,” of forbidding discussion of the reality of Islamic jihad at precisely the moment that Islamic supremacists are pressing forward as never before with their program of stealth jihad against the West.
Speaking out against British Columbia’s hate speech laws, attorney Roger D. McConchie noted correctly that “innocent intent is not a defense. Nor is truth. Nor is fair comment on true facts. Publication in the public interest and for the public benefit is not a defense. Opinion expressed in good faith is not a defense. Responsible journalism is not a defense.”
He is right, and that is why that law and all such laws are so pernicious.
It can happen here. We could lose the freedom to speak out against Islamic supremacism and jihad, and that will only enable the Islamic supremacists to advance farther into the heart of the West.
Huey Long is said to have remarked, “Fascism will come to America, but likely under another name, perhaps anti-fascism.” Now we are seeing just that: the anti-jihadists are called fascists, and are being silenced in fascist fashion, in the name of anti-fascism. It’s time to wake up.