Monday, January 09, 2006

The Future of Freedom of Speech

Diana West wrote an excellent editorial on the lack of free speech in Afghanistan and, what's worse, is the lack of an outcry from freedom-minded people around the world. I agree but I'm more worried about the erosion of free speech in the West. On Dhimmi Watch, I wrote:

For those who believed introducing democracy into Islamic nations would lead to liberty and pave the way via open discussion to a reform of Islam, please take note of what is happening in Afghanistan and soon to happen in Iraq. Back in October, when this hit the news … if being published in Radio Free Europe is “hitting the news” … the threat was obvious. Without the protections of the individual’s freedom of speech and freedom of conscience, democracy is worse than worthless. I wrote at the time, it “is little more than a murdering mob trampling others in their path. Without these freedoms, the spirit of democracy turns into the nightmare of totalitarianism.”

Our founding fathers knew about the dangers of unlimited democracy, many conservatives and liberals used to know this. Now people look away because it is agreed by both sides of the aisle that Afghanistan is the “legitimate war.” Neither wants to face the limitations of Islam but instead focus on the details of individual battles and the threat of specific terrorist organizations. Few see the forest.

What is far more serious is that we are seeing our freedoms disappear. In France, Italy and Australia, there are laws against “vilification of a religion” and Tony Blair, if he had his way, would introduce similar laws into the UK. Diana West asks “who … will speak up for free speech?” Indeed, who? Houellebecq, who was narrowly acquitted of “vilification” in France, believes what he said in France will never be said again. He may have won the legal battle but lost the war. Whether by laws, social pressure, or physical intimidation, free speech will come to an end unless good people do something. Even if by means of provocative speech, as was common in the past, the limits of free speech need to be tested. And it has to be done here at home.

If nations-building there means liberty-destroying here, we will see liberty nowhere.

I've been told by some that the prohibitions against criticism of Islam are necessary to win their hearts and minds; and win the current battles. There are some costs one does not pay for victory, let alone the modest gains in Afghanistan or Iraq. Freedom of speech and conscience must never be surrendered.


Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Isn't it funny that the same racists who claim democracy isn't compatible with Islamic culture are the first ones to play lap dog when CAIR launches a grievance?


1/3/06, 11:15 AM  
Blogger LA Sunset said...

Watch out, because when people really get sick of this, the backlash is going to be great. The pendulum swings back hard.

1/3/06, 4:32 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


Several prominent members of the Democratic Party, a racist organization founded on the principles of slavery, genocide, and destruction of the US Constitution, have all argued that democracy is incompatible with Islamic culture.

I need not cite examples, as a racist such as yourself parrot them. Daily.

1/3/06, 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a non-American I'm interested in what you all think would have happened regarding Iraq and the war on terror if; 1. John Kerry had won the last election and was now in the White House; and 2. What if the Democrats were in power on 9/11/01? What response? leelion

1/3/06, 11:03 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

If Al Gore were President on 9/11/01, several million Afghans would be dead or dying from bombs or starvation, the Taliban would still be in power, India and Pakistan would be at war right now if they didn't just nuke each other outright.

If John Kerry were elected in 2004, Iran would have nuked Israel with the highly-enriched uranium Kerry wanted to just give them to "test their intentions."

1/3/06, 11:32 PM  
Blogger LA Sunset said...


1. If John Kerry would have been elected President, he would have cut and run in Iraq, putting it in a civil war. Jacques Chirac would have a direct line to the Oval Office. And, "the Carter Malaise" would now be re-named, "the Kerry Malaise".

2. If the Dems would have been in power on 9/11, they would have been voted out, in 2004.

Gore would have done nothing but call on the UN to condemn the attack, maybe he would have launched a few rockets at the Taliban and taken out a few camels. Subsequently, there would have been another attack (or two) by now, leading the American people to feel very unsafe.

That's what I think, anyway.

1/3/06, 11:33 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


I disagree. If Gore were President on 9/11 that chucklehead would have bombed the bejeezus out of what passes for Afghanistan's infrastructure irrespective of the political realities on the ground, rendering trade and commerce virtually impossible, fruitlessly trying to wring out the Taliban from an assortment of civilians and paramilitary forces, leading to deaths primarily due to starvation while pleading with the Taliban to surrender Osama Bin Laden. What would pass for "statecraft" under a Gorean nightmare would have seen the October 2001 terrorist inspired escalation of tensions between Pakistan and India (Indian Parliament grenade attacks by Pakistani terrorists) blow up into a nuclear exchange, probably by trying to Ramboillet some hare-brained scheme to topple Musharraf.

1/4/06, 3:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some interesting thoughts there. I don't particularly like the Bush administration but I believe only they have the power and means to vanquish the Islamic threat. Who else is going to do it? Think about it... there is no one else. People still don't get it. The 9/11 terrorists would have taken out all of New York City if they could have, or why not take-out the entire United States?, or the entire Western world? Kill em all! It seems many in the world hate George Bush more than they hate the Islamic terrorists who openly want to destroy America. And now there appears to be a situation where many liberal and leftist Americans willfully want the U.S to lose and be humiliated in Iraq. If somehow America were to fall (god forbid and I'm not religious), woe to the world.

Mr. Beamish, liked your profile - made me LOL.

1/4/06, 5:11 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Remember how upset I was last summer when Michael Graham was released from WMAL radio? Of course, I realized at the time that the radio station, as a private entity, can hire and fire at will. But I saw a larger problem--censorship of the media by certain power groups (CAIR in Graham's case). As you recall, I wrote several articles about Michael Graham. I won't bother linking up here.

What happened to Michael Graham was a small event in the scheme of things. And I know that what he said ("Islam is a terrorist organization") is a hot-button statement, despite the context in which it was made. But the fact is that Michael Graham is no longer on our local radio talkshow. I've also noticed that now the station avoids any discussion of Islam or Islamism. WMAL learned the lesson well, huh?

Visit the CAIR web site, and see how often various individuals and media are targeted as hate mongers or Islamophobes. Here is one example of many--a letter to the editor which CAIR targeted. I have no idea how effective CAIR's grievances against various media are, but they appear every single day on the CAIR web site.

BTW, never, ever, is there a retraction on the part of CAIR when an Islamophobic incident turns out to be something else, i.e., the burning of a Koran on the steps of a mosque in Blacksburg, VA; the event turned out to have been a Muslim disposing of his copy in a manner which he thought appropriate within Islam.

1/4/06, 9:26 AM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


One thing you have to understand about US politics is that at no point in history has there ever been a rational reason to vote for a Democrat. If not for the leadership of Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt would have continued to treat Nazi aggression as a trade dispute.

1/4/06, 12:10 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

I put on my Comunist Wahabi Poultry translation ring.

The Islamo-Marxist PR machine is going down in flames. The American people are getting outraged about the spying but guess who the outrage is against the Left.

Yes Civil rights for homicidal Muslim terrorists at war with the USA is a total flop. The dumbocrats alliance with the far left is destroying the party.

1/4/06, 2:10 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Well Beak, we do have our differences but then I didn't spend the afternoon of 9/11 flushing away my beliefs and convictions in a piddle-stained panic.

And how could Ducky do that, dancing and quacking along with the Palestinians and leftists in the street celebrating like a car bomb had just killed a Jew?

1/4/06, 4:47 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

Hey Ducky

It is well known where I was on that Tuesday. Are you calling me a coward ? This is typical of what leftists do. They want us to understand Sheehan but show zero respect to the actual people who were there on that day.

No Ducky I am not frightened and if when we get hit again and we will your kind will have much to answer for.

I traveled 400 plus miles to do my part. If conditions change I will go as ordered.

1/4/06, 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Ducky, I'm interested to know where you're coming from on all this. Do you subscribe to the theory that America brought 9/11 on itself? What would you prefer to see happening regarding the war on terror? leelion

1/4/06, 11:19 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty", said Thomas Paine. But these days there are too few people being vigilant! They're all too busy making a fast buck even to care!

1/5/06, 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever so slightly off topic, but I saw this on Harry's Place.....(

Thought you guys should see it

RIP Ayman Taha

His father described him as a devout Muslim who believed that "the message of Islam is very simple . . . to believe in God and do good deeds."

Ayman Taha, born in Sudan, was also a member of the US Army special forces who gave up a promising academic career three years ago to enlist. He was sent to Iraq a year ago and was killed last Friday while preparing a munitions cache for demolition.

Again according to his father:

"He strongly agreed that what they were doing is good and that they were helping people in the Middle East to get out of the . . . historic bottleneck" that had confined them.

It occurred to me after reading this piece about him that someone like Ayman Taha must confuse an awful lot of people. Some (like the denizens of MPACuk) would consider him a stooge of the "infidels," who therefore could not have been a devout Muslim. Others (like some of our regular Harry's Place commenters) would argue that he did not understand the true insidious nature of Islam-- which commands believers to fight against, not for, the infidels-- and therefore could not have been a devout Muslim.

Allow me to disagree. I'm willing to take Ayman Taha's father at his word: that his son was a proud US soldier, a believer in his mission in Iraq-- and a devout Muslim.

1/5/06, 5:29 PM  
Blogger Pastorius said...

I agree. He was a Muslim who did not believe in Jihad against the Infidels, and he believed in the values of America. As such, he was a Muslim who anyone of us would be happy to have as a neighbor.

1/5/06, 6:32 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

Ducky you are FOS you could care less about Wahabism. You still fantasize about a Marxo-Jihadist alliance to overthrow Capitalism.

The progressives are finished and toast. Tell the American people that the Government should do nothing while JIhadists attempt for second or third strikes. I have news for you they should watch left wing Marxists . The source of most treason in the last fifty years, you draw the picture.

1/5/06, 7:19 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Thanks Foxy and Pastorius. A good heart-warming example.

As we’ve said before there is a difference between the sociology and ideology. Many Muslims see themselves as devout but are ignorant of core elements or believe that these have been abandoned. Few Muslims can read the Koran in Classical Arabic and many want to be good believers of their father’s religion. They blind themselves to central elements of the religion. I can accept whole groups of people who focus on only the palatable elements and believe they are Muslims in good standing.

The problem is the stability of this state of affairs. Can it be sustained? Or will it be susceptible to an internal crisis and the original practice of Islam will be revived. Thus, the failure of Arab socialism prompted many Arabs to turn back towards tradition and when they did they found a religion that preached a supremacist ideology. Or it can be an external event. When Ibn Taymiya, in the 13th century, saw the destruction of Turkish invaders from the Asian Steppes, he sought a revival of the original Islam. He’s a model for Qutb and Wahhab.

Thus, the sands of Islam are a very weak foundation to build a moderate liberal order that is sustainable. However, there are individuals and, at times, even whole groups that can manage the task. Individuals have been known to triumph under the most difficult of circumstances. Some just will. And we should honor them.

1/5/06, 11:32 PM  
Blogger cranky old fart said...

Well said Jason. Thank you for your voice of reason in sea of blather from Beamish, et. al.

1/6/06, 9:16 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

That there are some good Muslims is an indisputable fact; but we should ask ourselves one simple question: Are they good Muslims because of, or in spite of, Islam?

If they follow that religion as it is meant ot be followed, then they cannot be our friends. Period!

1/6/06, 9:29 AM  
Blogger cranky old fart said...

Mark, and all, I think you miss the point. When you say; "[i]f they follow that religion as it is meant to be followed, then they cannot be our friends", you are simply saying that we cannot be friends with those who are bent on imposing thier world view by force. This is true no matter the motivating force, be it religion or otherwise.

But as to religion itself, Vilification of just Islam misses the point. It is time to say to all the world's religions; Follow your superstitions if you must, but when those superstitions come in conflict with and endanger the secular world, you may go no further.

Haven't we reached the point where belief in God(s) and superstitions should be relegated to the child's fiction section? Why are we still living in a demon haunted world?

1/6/06, 10:02 AM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Haven't we reached the point where belief in God(s) and superstitions should be relegated to the child's fiction section? Why are we still living in a demon haunted world?

Many reasons, perhaps even that demons haunt the world. Who knows? Maybe it's all vanity. No nihilist worth the name can add any more epistemology to the first four chapters of Ecclesiastes. War, peace, love, loss, joy, suffering, work, play, life, death - There truly is nothing new under the sun.

Unless we build it.

1/6/06, 10:14 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

That’s right Mark, it is despite the religion. That’s the point about distinguishing between the ideology and what it would mean if it is practiced, on the one hand; and the demographic group of those who merely call themselves Muslim but are lax, lapsed, perfunctory in their practice of rituals or “cafeteria Muslims.”

I was going to point out that I knew card-carrying members of the Communist Party USA who were polite, hard-working and generally considerate of others. But so what? Should that change my mind about the 150 million killed by communism or the ideology which is inextricably harmful if practiced? For the life of me, I just couldn’t understand why these people (that I knew) failed to see what was wrong in theory and necessarily horrendous in practice.

These exceptions are not indicative of the problem. There will always be such exceptions. In Nazi Germany some joined the Nazi party out of opportunism and not hatred of Jews. They don’t represent the threat. Does anyone remember the line in the movie “Patton” that got the general in trouble? Such banalities like “many Communists were idealist or many Nazis were just following the family tradition” are deplorable if they insinuate a benign nature to the threat.

Some people have blind spots with respect to the history of their “group.” In understanding the ideology one has to ask several questions: What do the doctrines state? What does it mean in practice? Where are those who fully understand the ideas and embody the practice? In addition, one could ask: Has anyone spearheaded and achieved a sustainable change in the fundamental tenets of the ideology?

I believe that if the West was united in its self-pride and firm in its condemnation of the core principles exemplified by Mohammad, many Muslims would try to hide those defects, shun those who embarrass the group, and spin various fairy tales about the mythology. Honor and shame are powerful forces in Arab culture.

Right now they feel pride, not shame, at the acts of 9/11 and the attacks that deliberately target civilians in Israel and Iraq. And the West has been an enabler by our appeasement and by the moral equivalence (ex. Spielberg) or out right romanticizing the Islamic jihadist cause by some on the far left. No, the threat of Islam wouldn’t go away if we were able to maintain a posture of moral and intellectual clarity, but it would go into remission to a more manageable degree until some crisis precipitates a revival.

Unfortunately, the rare exception is often an excuse for many to hope that Islam can be easily shrugged-off. And this hope becomes a dream that allows many to ignore the harsh reality. Levin, in the Oslo Syndrome, gives some solid-analysis in the reality of this dynamic. Israel is like the West in microcosm giving us a preview of the problems of maintaining a resolve in the face of a long-term threat.

1/6/06, 10:33 AM  
Blogger cranky old fart said...

I take it Jason, that you would then agree that various statements from GWB that he is carrying out "God's will" are not at all helpful in our attempt to maintain a "posture of moral and intellectual clarity..."

1/6/06, 10:43 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

As usual, your comments are insightful.

the threat of Islam wouldn’t go away if we were able to maintain a posture of moral and intellectual clarity, but it would go into remission to a more manageable degree until some crisis precipitates a revival.

How many times have we seen that pattern in world history since the inception of Islam?

What is different today? Two quick thoughts come to my mind (Others will likely have more):
1. Immigration of Muslims to Western nations, in inordinate numbers as geographic barriers break down
2. The weaponry available

Hence, the conflict is not limited to particular regions but rather is worldwide. And the demographics, especially the
birth-rate figures, are not encouraging. Mark Steyn recently wrote a commentary on that topic.

PS: I rented Kingdom of Heaven yesterday. I'm watching it now.

PPS: Esther has put up a review of Munich.

1/6/06, 10:44 AM  
Blogger Mark said...


You're analysis is very clear and insightful.

I believe that Bush's first grave error was on the day after 9/11 when he spoke to the nation, and the world, from the Oval Office with the Qur'an on his desk, giving it equal prominence with the Bible and the Torah. What had Islamic thinking done for the US to warrant that?

Moreover, he wasted no time in telling the world that the US was not at war with Islam. Maybe so. But it was clear that Islam was at war with the US!

By insisting that Islam is a 'religion of love', and that Al-Qaida had distorted the true religion, he placed the Islamic world on the offensive, whereas he should have placed it on the defensive. Quasi: Prove to us that Islam is NOT at war with the US! Prove to us that you are WELL-INTENTIONED towards us! And, go find the aggressors!

In my humble opinion, this was a grave error of judgment.

1/6/06, 11:35 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

COF, the problem of Bush’s inability to establish and maintain intellectual and moral clarity is a subject too extensive to even begin to even outline. He shows little sign of understanding Islam either because he doesn’t understand it or he knows how limited his ability is in articulating and fighting for an immense intellectual and cultural change. Perhaps he is one of those conservatives who see all religions as benign and can’t see Islam as the warrior ideology exemplified by Mohammad’s rise in Medina.

If he had articulated the nature of the threat and explained its manifestation in the Islamic world today and its penetration into the West, he could express that knowledge with considerable variation without losing the clarity and resolve. It is not uncommon for a religious person, who believes, on the basis of the facts of reality, of the righteousness of a course of action, to express that as being in accord with the nature and nature’s Creator. Lincoln expressed religious sentiments and they were sung by the troops in the Battle Hymn of the Republic. You can be sure Lee expressed such sentiments, too. However, that didn’t make the Civil War a religious war nor did it obscure the moral questions involved.

Even for those of us who are not religious, one has to see how a religious person employs religion in their actions (even more so than their self-proclamations.) If it is after the argument, as Madison or Washington often did when they added comments as to the role of Providence, it is merely a religious person’s means of expressing their confidence that justice is on their side (as far as we secularists might be concerned.) If it is lieu of argument or an excuse to ignore the evidence, then the religion is the cause pure and simple. And we need to be concerned by the gravity of any breach with reality.

Bush sees religion as a private matter as he said on occasion. It does not play a role in defining his approach to foreign affairs. The problem is not that he is a dogmatist but that he is a Pragmatist, in my opinion. Thus, in combing his rhetoric for clues to his principles one winds up focusing on isolated fragments. Everyone sees the Bush the want to love or hate. And many of us know how much worse it could be. But we have to start demanding more if we want to demonstrate that there is a market for a radical change in 2008.

(I wrote this before Mark’s response which is in line with my concerns about his failures.)

1/6/06, 12:27 PM  
Blogger becomingme said...

while i disagree with your belief that Islam threatens the very fabric of our culture and democracy, i do like your blog and the decorum with which the people who comment on your posts exercise.

mr. ducky, i laughed until i cried..."condominium rice"...hehehe!

1/8/06, 9:09 AM  
Blogger James G. said...

If he had articulated the nature of the threat and explained its manifestation in the Islamic world today and its penetration into the West, he could express that knowledge with considerable variation without losing the clarity and resolve

But Jason, are there any politicians who could/would do so(besides the likes of Le Pen)?

1/9/06, 6:12 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

None that I know of. Bush isn't alone in this matter.

1/9/06, 6:29 AM  

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