That free speech is a vital component of Western democracies goes without saying. That it is being slowly but effectively whittled away is also a truism. Everywhere we see faulty notions of tolerance, the unsavoury forces of political correctness, and just plain cowardice combining to restrain free speech, especially when it comes to not “offending” a certain religion.
I refer of course to the hyper-sensitive political ideology known as Islam, and its continued insistence that all words and deeds considered by Muslims to be critical of Islam be banned. Examples are legion. On the international level, back in 2009 the UN was debating a resolution aimed at criminalising criticism of Islam. UN Resolution 62/154, on “combating defamation of religions,” is just one such example.
Closer to home the state of Victoria passed the deplorable Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2011. This nice-sounding law was simply an attempt to clamp down on Christian expression, and was used to good effect by easily-offended Muslims.
At least some government leaders understand the threats here. Foreign Minister Bob Carr has been good on this issue, and last week on ABC’s Insiders reaffirmed his position:
“Barrie Cassidy: Now the Turkish prime minister, as I understand it, is putting forward a proposal for international laws on religious defamation. What do you make of that idea?
Bob Carr: I don’t think that would be acceptable to the Western world. We had a little example of how religious vilification laws work in a case that gained some notoriety under the Victorian legislation, and it meant drawn-out legal process directed at some pastors who would have gained, without this, no publicity whatsoever for their criticism of Islam. I think dragging religious disputes into the courts is a very bad notion. I wouldn’t want to see it reflected in Australian domestic law, and I don’t think it’s a satisfactory international response to this tension.”
But silly vilification laws and charter of rights legislation is resulting in a real clampdown of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. It is all part of an active campaign by the enemies of freedom and democracy to transform the West into the dar al Islam, the house of Islam.
As Robert Spencer put it in Stealth Jihad: “The West today faces the threat of stealth jihadists. By using this term, I am not implying that they operate in secret; to the contrary, one of the key characteristics distinguishing them from their violent counterparts is that they carry out their business openly, carefully constructing a facade of moderation. What is stealth about these operatives is their ultimate agenda—they are not seeking to protect Muslim’s ‘civil rights’ from the rampant ‘Islamophobia’ that ostensibly plagues Western societies, as they claim. Rather, they are leading a full-scale effort to transform pluralistic societies into Islamic states, and to sweep away Western notions of legal equality, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and more.”
As I wrote recently, even the US President is doing his best to create a permanent condition of dhimmitude in the US and the West. His policies of appeasement and siding with our enemies have been incredible to behold, as I wrote here: billmuehlenberg.com/2012/09/28/appeasing-those-who-would-behead-us/
Commentators both here and overseas have also remarked on where all this is heading. Diana West offered some great insights in her recent piece, “The Anti-Blasphemy, Anti-First-Amendment President”. Commenting on Obama’s incredible remark at the UN, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” she said this:
“Any negative fact about Islam and Muhammad is, under Islamic law, deemed ‘slander.’ Does the president, son of a Muslim father and raised for four years as a Muslim by his stepfather in Indonesia, understand this? Shouldn’t someone in the White House press corps bother to ask?
“Whether the president is ignorant or knowing, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Islamic bloc of 56 nations and the Palestinian Authority, certainly understood the Islamic meaning as its representatives sat in the General Assembly. They heard the U.S. president declare that the future ‘must not belong’ to those who analytically or critically approach Muhammad and, by natural extension, Muhammad’s totalitarian religious/legal system of governance. According to this understanding, We the People who prize the First Amendment are out. Those who enforce and follow Shariah are in. I can’t think of another instance in which an American president has publicly uttered such a rank betrayal of American principles. And the media censored it!”
She concludes, “Here’s the secret that blasphemy laws are written to smother: Regarding the fundamentals of freedom of conscience, the autonomy of the individual, protection of children and equality of women, Islamic and Western doctrines have nothing in common and are, in fact, at irreconcilable, dagger’s-point odds. Silence – Shariah blasphemy laws – is the Obama-Clinton-OIC Islamic answer. Indeed, in the Shariah-compliant end, silence will replace the questions, too.
“But we’re already used to it. Don’t believe me? Afshin Ellian, an Iranian-born Dutch law professor, poet and columnist, puts it this way: ‘If you cannot say that Islam is a backward religion and that Muhammad is a criminal, then you are living in an Islamic country, my friend, because there you also cannot say such things. I may say Christ was a homosexual and Mary was a prostitute, but apparently I should stay off of Muhammad’.”
Here in Australia Janet Albrechtsen has also just written about these matters. She writes: “More international political pressure must now be brought to bear on the abomination that is blasphemy law. While our focus this week at the UN in New York is on Julia Gillard making our case for a seat on the UN Security Council, the bigger question should concern the future of free speech in the West. There is a renewed push by some Islamic countries for international blasphemy laws.
“Will our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Bob Carr condemn any such illiberal push for these laws given that the federal government is seeking votes for our bid from these countries? It’s not enough that illiberal countries such as Pakistan long have used these abhorrent laws to persecute minorities. Radical Muslims, such as those protesting from Sydney to Islamabad, want global blasphemy laws available to Muslim minorities in the West, to suppress criticism of Islam in their new countries.”
Her conclusion is on the money: “New demands for blasphemy laws will be made because not enough people offer up a full-throated defence of Western values. After US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was murdered by marauding Muslims, the US embassy in Cairo issued a statement condemning ‘misguided individuals’ who ‘hurt the feelings of Muslims’. Not a word defending America’s commitment to free speech. Horrified, the Obama administration distanced itself from the embassy’s supine statement, but even the US President and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton devoted more passion to condemning the film than defending free speech.
“Back home, ABC Radio National’s breakfast radio host Geraldine Doogue fell into the now familiar morass of moral relativism found at our public broadcaster. Talking about the protesters here, she mentioned ‘warnings that we mustn’t give oxygen to people who are consciously provocative’. Then, pointing to the publication of the French cartoons, Doogue said, ‘It’s the same thing, isn’t it?’ No, Geraldine, it’s not the same thing. Not by a long shot. The protesters picked up planks of wood to beat our police. They brought violence to the streets of Sydney. The French cartoonist drew a picture. Doogue might instead have explored the irony, not to mention hypocrisy, of radical Muslims who bleat about their feelings being hurt by a film or a cartoon while expressing their own right to free speech, demanding death to infidels.
“When will we learn that falling over ourselves to be polite, defaulting to lazy moral relativism, looks like appeasement to radical Muslims, who will demand only more and more special rules? If the West accommodates demands for blasphemy laws, our appeasement inexorably will alter what it means to live in the West. It means surrendering long-cherished Enlightenment ideals and importing intolerably illiberal restrictions on free speech more at home in countries such as Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. That is precisely what radical Muslims want. But it can’t possibly be what we want.”
Quite so. Our enemies will take offense at whatever we do and say. Tough beans. If they hate the very things that make the West great – freedom, pluralism, democracy, rule of law, etc. – then they can stay in their 7th century hovels and enjoy themselves. But there is no reason why the West should roll over and play dead as they seek to destroy us. No reason at all.