That sounds like the statement of a victor in a war, dictating terms to the vanquished. And it may well be: free speech is under attack in Canada -- the prosecution of Macleans Magazine and author Mark Steyn -- and in the United States as well by Islamic governments and groups whose goal is to end free speech when it is aimed at exposing the truth about Islamic terrorism and its roots.
Their goal is positively Orwellian. Replace “Big Brother” with the “Organization of the Islamic Conference” and you have the world the OIC wants to impose on us all.
Apparently Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, believes that his powerful, multinational Islamic organization has already won the battle over free speech. Last week he boasted that “the OIC has become an indispensable player at the international level, in many domains.” Notably, he said, the OIC, which comprises 57 Muslim governments in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America, has been actively “defending the image of Islam, and combating the phenomenon of Islamophobia.”
The OIC, said Ihsanoglu, has placed the issue of Islamophobia “at the top of our priorities and preoccupations, while conducting a large-scale worldwide effort to confront it.”
They’ve already accomplished a great deal. “We have been able to achieve convincing progress,” observed Ihsanoglu, at “the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, and the UN General Assembly.”
That is true: Associated Press reported Thursday that “Muslim countries have won a battle to prevent Islam from being criticized during debates by the UN Human Rights Council.” Council President Doru-Romulus Costea explained: “This council is not prepared to discuss religious matters in depth, consequently we should not do it.” AP noted that “while Costea’s ban applies to all religions, it was prompted by Muslim countries complaining about references to Islam.” And Ihsanoglu said: “The United Nations General Assembly adopted similar resolutions against the defamation of Islam.”
Now they’re setting their sights on the United States. “We have established an OIC Group in Washington D.C.,” Ihsanoglu explained, “with the aim of playing a more active role in engaging American policy makers.” This will involve agitating for laws restricting free speech: “And in confronting the Danish cartoons and the Dutch film ‘Fitna,’” (which showed Muslims acting on violent passages in the Qur’an), Ihsanoglu continued, “we sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed.” Ihsanoglu says it’s already working: “As we speak, the official West and its public opinion are all now well-aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.”
In other words, “irresponsible” speech -- which is defined as speech he disagrees with -- should be banned.
Ihsanoglu is right that such a “message” has found a receptive audience, even in the West. A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey published in mid-June found that while 88% of Americans support the right to free speech (only 88%?), only 53% oppose banning “hate speech.” Significantly, however, only 11% support bans on “hate speech” when they’re reminded that “hate speech” is in the eye of the beholder, and that the government would be deciding what constitutes hate speech and what doesn’t. That is, the government, or the OIC making the government dance to its tune.
“Hate speech” is also a tool to prevent the dissemination of what have more of a claim to be called “inconvenient truths” than anything Al Gore has ever been involved with. Mark Steyn is on trial in Canada right now for telling the truth. The renowned Canadian journalist and politician Peter Worthington commented acidly about the Steyn proceedings: “Truth is no defence before a Human Rights tribunal. Steyn’s accuracy is not at issue, just his opinions. Under hate legislation, opinions are punishable if they offend a particular group. If you think about it, this is an abomination.”
Indeed it is -- and Steyn is not the only victim. The contentious exchange at the UN Human Rights Council that led to the prohibition of criticism of Islam involved a presentation by David G. Littman of the Association for World Education of information about female genital mutilation, the stoning of adulteresses, and honor killings in Islamic countries. The first victims of the ban on such talk at the Human Rights Council will be those who suffer from such barbarities -- and will now have no one who is allowed to speak for them without dissembling about the causes and extent of the problem.
It is telling that when Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and the OIC think of “defending the image of Islam,” they don’t mean working in Muslim communities to combat the influence of the jihad ideology or Islamic supremacism among Muslims worldwide. They don’t have in mind developing any large scale initiatives to combat Osama bin Laden’s version of Islam, and to teach Muslims how to resist the jihadist appeal. The organization hasn’t ever acknowledged the obvious fact that it could end “Islamophobia” right away by rejecting Islam’s doctrines of violence, supremacism and conquest and moving strongly against those Muslims who are acting upon those doctrines.
Instead, they have made themselves the enemies of honest men like Mark Steyn who have called attention to this supremacist agenda. They will be working with American policymakers to restrict free speech -- that is, honest discussion of the elements of Islam that the jihadists use to justify their actions and gain recruits.
Can honest discussion really be outlawed? You bet it can. As long as free people do nothing to stop it from happening. As the OIC presses American politicians to use anti-discrimination and hate speech laws to “stem this illegal trend,” we need to stand up now with Mark Steyn and all the others who are on the front lines of this battle, and tell them that what they’re doing to Steyn in Canada must never happen here. We must tell our elected officials to stop this outrage, resist OIC lobbying, and reaffirm in no uncertain terms our commitment to free speech -- particularly now, when so much depends on our being able to speak with honesty about the nature of the jihadist threat, and so many powerful entities want to make sure we do not do so.
So much depends on this -- possibly even including our survival as a free people.