Sign the petition asking that we be allowed into the UK here.
When even hard-Left writers like Alex Seitz-Wald and Matt Duss (fastidiously distancing themselves from us, of course, much like Melanie Phillips and The Commentator) denounce the banning of Pamela Geller and me from Britain, maybe the British government has gone a bit too far in its opposition to the freedom of speech and kowtowing to Islamic supremacism. I’ve often criticized the Left as being increasingly authoritarian and determined to shut down the freedom of speech, demonizing its opponents rather than debating their ideas — and this is certainly true of thugs like Nathan Lean. But these two recognize, at least in this instance, that shutting down the freedom of speech of one’s foes might one day come back to bite one.
“Let Geller in!,” by Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon, June 28:
It’s no secret that we vehemently disagree withÂ anti-Muslim activist and blogger Pam Geller “” and the feeling is mutual.
Even when writing in support (sort of), Alex can’t resist the kneejerk smear “anti-Muslim.” Calling us “anti-Muslim” is like calling foes of Nazism “anti-German.” We do not oppose human beings, but an authoritarian and supremacist ideology that many Muslims in Egypt and Turkey are energetically opposing these days. But to defame us as “anti-Muslim” saves Seitz-Wald the trouble of confronting or refuting what we actually say: he can with this label dismiss us as “haters” and leave it at that while simultaneously painting a target on our backs for the next Floyd Lee Corkins who wants to take a shot at the “hatemongers.”
“As for Islamic apologists like Alex Seitz-Wald, it is only a matter of time before he is getting measured for a suicide vest,” she once wrote about this writer. But British authorities made a big mistake this week in banning her and fellow activist Robert Spencer from entering the country, ceding to her the moralÂ high groundÂ and striking a blow against free speech.
It’s ironic in the extreme to see a writer for a hard-Left publication that has defamed us again and again come out for free speech, but hey, if this banning is waking up some on the Left, so much the better.
“It will merely make them free speech martyrs, despite their abhorrent views,” Jillian York, the Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in an email.
What is “abhorrent” about fighting for the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law? Seitz-Wald doesn’t say. He doesn’t have to. His Salon herd knows we are “right-wing,” and thus to be despised, and that’s that.
Indeed, Geller and Spencer never miss an opportunity to crow about how their freedom of speech is being trampled on by politically correct journalists and politicians. Ninety-nine times out of 100, they are confusing their right to express their views with a non-existent right to avoid any and all criticism for holding those reprehensibleÂ views. But this time, they”re right “” a government is unduly impinging on their right to free expression because they might say something offensive.
What is reprehensible about our views? Again, Seitz-Wald doesn’t say. But more importantly, this could be the most ridiculous statement Alex Seitz-Wald has ever written, and that’s saying a great deal. Neither Geller nor I have ever tried to avoid “any and all criticism” — in fact, we have confronted it, engaged the assertions of our opponents, written rebuttals to their attacks. I have many, many times challenged critics to debate, only to be vilified or ignored in response. Reza Aslan, Omid Safi, Haroon Moghul, Caner K. Dagli, Carl Ernst, John Esposito — the list goes on and on and on of people who have attacked me, whereupon I have invited them to debate, only to meet with scorn. But now it is I who am trying to avoid criticism. Alex is projecting: this is true of his Leftist and Islamic supremacist allies, not of Pamela Geller or me.
James Bloodworth, the editor of liberal British blog Left Foot Forward and a columnist for The Independent, wroteÂ that the ban is “counterproductive” as it will merely provide Geller and Spencer with “easy ammunition to throw back at us.” By deeming their views powerful enough to merit a ban, the government is elevating Geller and Spencer far above what they deserve, he argued.
See? They’d prefer to continue to freeze us out and pretend we do not exist, rather than confront the ideas we put forward. But this ban is making that more difficult for them to do that, drat it all!
The cases exposes what PÃ¡draig Reidy of the London-based Index on CensorshipÂ sees as the limits of Britain’s freedom of expression rights. “We don’t have any First Amendment kind of concept, ” he told Salon.Â The British Home Secretary, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, has broad discretion in who gets barred from the country under its “Unacceptable Behavior policy,” and there isn’t any kind of formal process. “It’s an extremely subjective criterion,” ReidyÂ said.
You can say that again. The UK just recently admitted Mohammed al-Arifi, who has said this: “Devotion to Jihad for the sake of Allah, and the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls and to sever limbs for the sake of Allah and in defense of His religion, is, undoubtedly, an honor for the believer.” That’s fine. But working for the freedom of speech and equality of rights for all, that’s beyond the pale!
…Unfortunately, Left Foot Forward’s Bloodworth told Salon that as far as he can tell, most British liberals seem to be cheering Geller’s ban. “It seems to be an increasing trend that rather than engaging people in debate we are seeking to ban or silence them,” he lamented.
Judging from reactions on Twitter and in the liberal blogosphere here, the reaction was largely the same from progressives on this side of the Atlantic as well. It’s too bad, because that’s exactly what Geller and Spencer have been saying liberals think all along. They”ve been wrong “” until now.
No, the UK has done this before, when it banned Geert Wilders. And the thuggish opposition to the freedom of speech on the Left is abundantly established. Everywhere we speak, everywhere we’re appearing, Leftist smear merchants like Nathan Lean show up and spread defamation and lies to get us shut down (sign the petition asking that Lean’s smears be disregarded and I be allowed to speak here). When Alex Seitz-Wald comes out against that, he’ll really be on the side of the freedom of speech.
In The Daily Beast, meanwhile, the vicious and mendacious Matt Duss makes much the same argument, larding it with all the usual tired and libelous accusations that we spread “hate,” inspired murder, etc., that I have refuted thousands of times. Duss concludes this Streicherian farrago with this: “It’s not something I imagined I’d ever have to say, but here it is: Geller and Spencer should be allowed to speak. Our societies are strong enough to survive their stupidity.”
What is bitterly ironic here is that Matt Duss does not, and apparently cannot, engage with what we actually say, and show why it is wrong — and neither can any of his Leftist and Islamic supremacist allies who run from debate with me. Neither he nor they can show exactly what is genuinely stupid or hateful about what we say. Instead, he retails the familiar distortions and lies about our work, all the while saying that we should be engaged rather than silenced. All right, then. Bring it.