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Top 10 Islamist Victories Against Free Speech
By Mark Tapson
August 29, 2010
Racking up victories against our Islamist enemy on the military and counterterrorism fronts will ultimately count for naught if we lose the Clash of Civilizations on the cultural front. The stealth jihadists know how to strike where we are culturally weak, patiently eroding our freedoms and pressing for special concessions for Islam and sharia. Their number one goal? Pressing for limits on our free speech in order to prevent criticism of Islam, thus hamstringing us in our efforts to even identify, much less combat our enemy's ideology.
What follows is a list, in more or less chronological order, of ten significant victories we have handed the Islamists that are diminishing our most precious and unique freedom. How much more ground are we going to cede to our enemy in the name of political correctness and multicultural self-hatred?
10) Ayatollah Khomeini's Death Fatwa Against Salman Rushdie
Nothing tends to squelch freedom of expression quite like being targeted for assassination. In early 1989, shortly after the publication of award-winning British novelist Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, the famously grim spiritual leader of Iran marked the author for death, for passages in the book supposedly blaspheming Islam. Rushdie was forced to go into hiding for many years; meanwhile the charge of blasphemy sparked riots and book-burnings in Muslim communities, and some people involved in publishing, selling, and even translating the novel were attacked and killed.
The death sentence has never been rescinded. It marked the beginning of a long string of such public fatwas or threats issued - and sometimes carried out - against artists who dared offend the delicate sensibilities of fundamentalist barbarians, from filmmaker Theo Van Gogh to Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris.
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9) The Invention of "Islamophobia"
The most potent weapon the stealth jihadists have is our own cultural vulnerability to charges of racism, bigotry - and the utterly mythical "Islamophobia." I have written elsewhere that there is no such thing as "the irrational fear of Islam"; the term is, as Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer frequently points out, a trumped-up charge designed to bully us into silence while the Islamists proceed to shoehorn sharia into our culture.
And yet ever since England issued the The Runnymede Report in 1997, addressing this "serious" new phenomenon, the concept has gained greater and greater acceptance. In January, 2001 at the "Stockholm International Forum on Combating Intolerance," Islamophobia was officially recognized as a form of intolerance alongside xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Shrewdly exploiting our self-flagellating cultural guilt, the Islamists continue to succeed in cowing us with this magically potent accusation.
8) Bush Avoids Language Offensive to Our Enemy
After the 9/11 attacks, President Bush referred to the ill-named "war on terror" as an even iller-named "crusade," and then quickly backpedaled when it became clear that this terminology was - you guessed it - offensive to Muslims. The Bush administration officially retracted the word. As Diana West said before the International Free Press Society in 2009,
This may seem like a small thing, no more than a diplomatic nicety, but the significance of excising this rousing and storied word from the vocabulary of Americans at the onset of war can hardly be overstated, and must be understood as an early and decisive psychological victory for Islam over the West.
Bush also went on to rename Operation Infinite Justice, the attack on the Taliban, as Operation Enduring Freedom so as not to insult Muslims blah blah blah, who believe only Allah can dispense infinite justice. "Presumably," Ms. West noted, "Muslims do not believe Allah dispenses freedom, enduring or otherwise, so that was all right."
7) Hollywood Complicity
For years, Muslim Brotherhood front groups like CAIR had been pressuring Hollywood to whitewash any hint of a connection to terrorism in its depictions of Islam and Muslims, but they weren't especially successful until, oddly, after 9/11, with the film The Sum of All Fears. The filmmakers were convinced to change the bad guys from Islamic terrorists (in the original novel) to Hollywood's go-to politically correct bad guys, neo-Nazis.
This empowered the Islamists to put more effort into manipulating Hollywood's messages about Islam. Another Brotherhood front group, MPAC, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, even has a Hollywood Bureau, which "educates" filmmakers about Islam, offers script consultation, and hands out awards to people (like Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin) whose work depicts Muslims and Islam favorably. Hollywood eagerly complies.
6) The Danish Cartoon Riots
In the wake of worldwide Muslim riots protesting the publication of a handful of cartoons deemed offensive to Muslims (some of which were later added by agitators to ramp up the outrage), the West's response was not so much a rousing defense of freedom of speech, but a renewed commitment to being more "responsible" and "sensitive" to the feelings of violent bullies, some of whom continue to try to murder aged cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. It now became clear that the West would reconsider its own values and freedoms in order to placate screaming mobs of totalitarians.
5) Geert Wilders Goes on Trial for Speaking the Truth
Political correctness and an ever-increasing deference to charges of hate speech and Islamophobia have resulted in the Dutch Churchill, Geert Wilders, being prosecuted for "inciting hatred" against Muslims. The accusation stems largely from his disturbing short film Fitna, which does nothing more than show the link between violence carried out in the name of Islam, and incitements to that violence from radical imams and from the Koran itself. So Wilders has been vilified, threatened with death, and charged with a crime not for committing any acts of hatred or violence himself, but for pointing out that others are committing such acts, and why. The Dutch court's response to assertions that he merely speaks the truth? "It doesn't matter that it's true; it's illegal."
4) Publishing Houses Censor Themselves
Thanks to incidents ranging from the Rushdie affair to the Danish cartoon riots and beyond, publishers have begun to have second thoughts about incurring the wrath of over-sensitive Islamic murderers. Random House, one of the largest publishing houses in the world, rescinded an offer to publish The Jewel of Medina, an erotic novel about Islam's prophet Muhammed and his child bride Aisha, after being warned by a scholarly consultant that many Muslims would almost certainly react violently. Eventually, a small British press daringly picked up the novel, only to result in the publisher's house being firebombed.
Yale University Press, meanwhile, published The Cartoons that Shook the World, about the Danish cartoons and the resulting insanity, but in an astonishing and ironic act of self-censoring cowardice, declined to include the offending cartoons themselves. Another opportunity missed to stand up for Western civilization and freedom.
3) Comedy Central Ridicules Every Religious Figure Except Muhammed
Comedy Central's South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were targeted by a not-so-subtle threat from the leader of a New York-based group of fanatics at RevolutionMuslim.com. The fearless and equal-opportunity satirists at South Park were deemed guilty of an insulting depiction of Muhammad, and subsequently, to its shame, Comedy Central censored the episode. In clarifying his threat, the Revolution Muslim leader openly acknowledged that
Free speech is not a value that Muslims share with America as a whole.
Apparently Comedy Central doesn't value it too highly either.
2) The Obama Administration Abolishes Any Discussion of Islam and Terrorism
Obama has taken Bush's verbal sensitivity toward Muslims to its extreme, removing any linguistic connection between Islam and terrorism. This led to an almost comical confrontation with Attorney General Eric Holder in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, squirming in his seat and doing verbal gymnastics to avoid any combination of words that hint at "Islamic extremism."
In another example, A Department of Defense report offering recommendations in the wake of the Ft. Hood shooting not only doesn't mention the words Islam, Muslim, or jihad, but fails even to mention the murdering jihadist Nidal Hassan by name. In England, this form of political correctness has reached such an absurd degree that Islamic terrorism is actually referred to officially as "anti-Islamic terrorism."
1) Obama Sends an Envoy to the OIC
As part of his effort to "reach out to the Muslim world" and convey to them just how sorry America is for existing, and how willing we are to commit cultural suicide, President Obama has followed in Bush's footsteps and sent an envoy to the OIC, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world's largest official Islamic body, legitimizing their attempts to criminalize defamation of religion (and by religion, the OIC means Islam).
Rashad Hussein, who has his own questionable positions about America and Islamic terrorism, is hardly the representative we need to combat the Islamist OIC, which actually labeled Islamophobia as "the worst form of terrorism." If the OIC succeeds - and Obama has given every indication that he is sympathetic to their aim - then freedom of speech will have suffered a mortal blow.
In Holland, Free Speech on Trial
By AYAAN HIRSI ALI
October 11, 2010
Imagine if a leader within the tea party movement were able to persuade its members to establish a third political party. Imagine he succeeded-overwhelmingly-and that as their leader he stood a real chance of winning the presidency. Then imagine that in anticipation of his electoral victory, the Democrats and Republicans quickly modified an existing antidiscrimination law so that he could be convicted for statements he made on the campaign trail.
All of this seems impossible in a 21st-century liberal democracy. But it is exactly what is happening in Holland to Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders.
Mr. Wilders came onto the political scene in September 2004 when he broke from the Liberal Party to found the Freedom Party. He did this partly as a response to Turkey's bid to join the European Union, and also in reaction to the rise of political Islam in the Netherlands.
No one has ever accused Mr. Wilders of being diplomatic. He's famously compared the Quran to "Mein Kampf" and described it as a "fascist book," he's called Muhammad "the devil," and he's proposed policies-such as banning the construction of mosques and taxing women who wear the burqa-to halt further Islamification.
At first, Mr. Wilders was dismissed as a far right-wing extremist. But since splitting from the Liberal Party six years ago, his star has only risen. In the national elections held in November 2006, his party won nine seats in parliament. When the Dutch government fell again this year, June elections saw his party take 24 seats in the 150-seat body.
This has spooked Dutch parliamentarians, particularly those wedded to multiculturalism. That's why, in the fall of 2009, they modified Article 137C and 137D of the Penal Code to make it possible for far-left organizations to take Mr. Wilders to court on grounds of "inciting hatred" against Muslims.
Article 137C of the penal code now states that anyone "who publicly, verbally or in writing or image, deliberately expresses himself in anyway insulting of a group of people because of their race, their religion or belief . . . will be punished with a prison sentence of at the most one year or a fine of third category." It continues: "If the offense is committed by a person who makes it his profession or habit, or by two or more people in association, a prison sentence of at the most two years or a fine of fourth category will be imposed."
And so since Oct. 4, Mr. Wilders has filed into court to defend himself in this blasphemy trial. If he loses-and the chances are high, given that the presiding judges haven't been subtle about their bias against him-he will face fines or time in jail. (When Mr. Wilders said he would not speak at the trial, Judge Jan Moors accused him of being "good at making statements, but then avoiding the discussion" they provoke.)
How is it possible that a mature European liberal democracy is prosecuting an elected member of parliament for his political opinions on the most pressing issue of the day-namely, Islamic fundamentalism? There are three main reasons.
First, there is the matter of traditional politicians' discomfort with Mr. Wilders. Historically, the Netherlands has insisted on the idea of "consensus." Though on paper this means compromise, in practice it has meant conformity of thought and a refusal to rock the boat on controversial issues.
No issue has tested this comfortable consensus more than the ascent of Islam, first presented by immigrants from Morocco and Turkey in the 1960s and 1970s, and then by asylum-seekers and refugees from various Muslim countries beginning in the 1990s. Most elites responded by preaching "tolerance." Give Muslim immigrants benefits and wait until they voluntarily integrate, their argument goes. Even if that process would take generations-even when it became apparent that some Muslims practiced female genital mutilation and honor killings, and imams openly urged their congregations to reject Dutch culture and law-citizens were not to criticize Islam.
A growing segment of the population-including Mr. Wilders and me, when I was a member of parliament from 2003 to 2006-doubted this facile and dangerous idea of "tolerance." This upset politicians, professors, journalists and other opinion-makers who tried to make us untouchables.
There were exceptions: Brave people in media, business and even in the military supported me politically, often behind the scenes. Still, I eventually left the country due to a combination of frustration with the campaign of ostracism and the extreme threats I faced from Islamists who wanted to kill me. Mr. Wilders, however, endured.
The second reason Mr. Wilders is on trial is the electoral power of Muslims in the Netherlands' four major cities. During local elections in March 2006, Muslim immigrants for the first time acted as an unofficial power bloc that could make or break a major Dutch party.
The supposed victims of Dutch discrimination were now a force to reckon with. Thus, major parties including Labor and the Christian Democrats-dominant since World War II-now support policies like increased immigration from Muslim countries and welfare benefits for Muslim voters. And they turn a blind eye to the implementation of informal Shariah law, particularly concerning the treatment of women.
Third, there are the efforts of countries in the Organization of the Islamic Conference to silence the European debate about Islam. One strategy used by the 57 OIC countries is to treat Muslim immigrants to Europe as satellite communities by establishing Muslim cultural organizations, mosques and Islamic centers, and by insisting on dual citizenship. Their other strategy is to pressure international organizations and the European Union to adopt resolutions to punish anyone who engages in "hate speech" against religion. The bill used to prosecute Mr. Wilders is the national version of what OIC diplomats peddle at the U.N. and EU.
The implications of this trial are enormous. In the short term, it could bring the simmering tensions between Holland's approximately one million Muslims and the 1.4 million voters who elected Mr. Wilders to a boil. The Netherlands has seen its share of Islamist violence before and could well see violent confrontations again.
On a more fundamental level, this trial-even if Mr. Wilders wins-could silence the brave critics of radical Islam. The West is in a war of ideas against political Islam. If free speech is not protected in Europe, we're already losing.
Ms. Ali, a former member of the Dutch parliament, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of "Nomad: From Islam to America-A Personal Journey through the Clash of Civilizations" (Free Press, 2010).