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Suicide of the Western Media

It's becoming clear that the MSM shares the hard Left’s taste for authoritarian controls on the freedom of speech.

by
Robert Spencer

Bio

July 15, 2012 - 10:34 pm

That the mainstream media leans overwhelmingly to the Left has long been known; that it shares the hard Left’s taste for authoritarian controls on the freedom of speech has not been so widely noted, but is becoming increasingly clear. Last week both the British Guardian and the New York Daily News published pieces equating truthful and accurate reporting about jihad violence and Islamic supremacism with “hate speech,” and calling for such reporting to be placed beyond the bounds of acceptable public discourse. That restrictions on free speech might come to harm their own profession is apparently something they haven’t considered.

After dismissing concerns about jihad and Islamization as “fearmongering,” Nathan Lean in the Daily News offered a strikingly statist remedy: “Society has a responsibility to counter these individuals with overwhelming overtures of pluralism — and to systematically push the fearmongers out of public discourse. … Judicial systems must absorb the true scope of the Islamophobia industry’s rhetoric and rage.” How “society” was to go about identifying “fearmongers” accurately and then “systematically” driving them out of the “public discourse” Lean did not explain, but since he envisioned “judicial systems” being involved, he seems to be calling for the arrest and prosecution of those whose opinions about Islam he dislikes.

Just as disquieting was Jonathan Freedland’s Guardian piece, in which he decried hateful speech against Muslims, describing it as “racism, of the crudest kind,” and then added: “but the subtler ones are not much better.” For Freedland these “subtler” forms of racism include attempts to “dress up in progressive, Guardian-friendly garb – slamming Islam as oppressive of gay and women’s rights, for example – but the thick layer of bigotry is visible all the same.”

Brendan O’Neill in the Telegraph rightly described this as an “explicit conflation of racial prejudice and political opinion, a mashing together of what we can all agree is irrational hatred of Muslims with what is surely just criticism of Islam. Now, you may agree or disagree with the idea that Islam is repressive of women and gays, but it is an idea nonetheless, a view some individuals have arrived at after thinking about various issues. To lump such an outlook together with abusive terms like ‘goatf**ker’, as if they both come from the same spectrum of racial hatred, is a see-through attempt to demonise certain political ideas by branding them racist.”

Significantly, Lean’s call for the silencing of dissenting voices and Freedland’s “see-through attempt to demonise certain political ideas” coincide perfectly with the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation’s ongoing campaign to compel Western states to criminalize criticism of Islam, including discussion of Islamic violence and supremacism. The objective of this campaign, of course, is to render Western countries mute and hence defenseless against the advancing jihad.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the OIC’s secretary general, has for years made no secret of this campaign. The OIC has long been dedicated to getting the United Nations to approve a “legal instrument” that would criminalize “Islamophobia.”

This campaign has achieved remarkable success, even short of such a “legal instrument.” Last week, Canadian journalist Brian Lilley lamented that even law enforcement authorities are reluctant to call things by their right names: “Police bust an Islamic terror cell, people that plan to blow up a building or shoot others in the name of Islam, and yet police will not say the words Muslim, Islam or any variant thereof. Even when the people arrested have clearly stated their goal is to carry out an attack in the name of Islam, police will not use the M word or the I word.”

While this self-censorship is presented as a manifestation of “tolerance,” in reality it is a deliberate erosion of core Western concepts of free expression, which is an indispensable foundation of the American Revolution and of republican government in general. And we are surrendering it, gradually and voluntarily, to those who seek to impose on us a value system that elevates the sanctity of Islam over freedom.

In July 2011, the UN passed Resolution 16/18, calling on member states to adopt legal restrictions on speech that fostered “defamation of religions.” Secretary of State Clinton and Ihsanoglu issued a statement urging member states of the United Nations “to take effective measures, as set forth in Resolution 16/18, consistent with their obligations under international human rights law, to address and combat intolerance, discrimination, and violence based on religion or belief.”

That sounds high-minded and impervious to opposition; after all, no one is in favor of “intolerance, discrimination, and violence based on religion or belief.” However, when state authority is given the authority to define what constitutes “intolerance,” and would-be totalitarians like Nathan Lean define as intolerant any honest discussion of how the texts and teachings of Islam are used to justify violence and recruit terrorists, this becomes a call for authoritarian restrictions on the freedom of speech.

It was to prevent such totalitarian coercion that the Founding Fathers formulated the First Amendment guarantee that Congress would make no law infringing upon the freedom of speech. That freedom stands as our fundamental bulwark against tyranny, preventing a ruler from stifling dissenting voices that call his rule to account. Without the freedom of speech all other freedoms could be taken away, and not a word could be raised in protest.

The New York Daily News and the Guardian, and all other journalists, no matter how far to the Left, should know that, and be prepared to fight the destruction of the freedom of speech. Instead, they’re abetting it. It is the suicide of the Western media.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We’re In.
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