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The Fantasy of the 'Fragile Muslim'

U.S. law values and permits the right to blaspheme. Justice Clark in 1952 wrote: “[I]t is enough to point out that the state has no legitimate interest in protecting any or all religions from views distasteful to them. … It is not the business of government in our nation to suppress real or imagined attacks upon a particular religious doctrine.” Justice Frankfurter noted that beliefs “ … dear to one may seem the rankest ‘sacrilege’ to another,” and added concerning “sacrilegious” speech: “[H]istory does not encourage reliance on the wisdom and moderation of the censor.” This fairly describes the law as it sits today.

The relevant tension comes from speech that can be considered to cause violence. Generally, speech can be civilly actionable if it is both likely to incite imminent violence and is intended to do so. Clinton’s 16/18 calls on states, however, to adopt “measures to criminalize incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief.” Clinton took a reservation to 16/18 that the U.S. not be required to “authorize legislation” or take “other action” that is “incompatible with the provisions of the Constitution.” Presumably, she wants to be able to say 16/18 will not conflict with U.S. law.

Maybe, maybe not. The greater concern is the effort to expand U.S. law and practice to conform to 16/18. The OIC and the Brotherhood have already successfully pressured for such laws within Europe. The language of Clinton’s recent public statements appears specifically orchestrated to comply with other demands of 16/18 including “expressing deep concern” for “stigmatizing” Muslims and “religious intolerance,” “condemning hatred” of Muslims, and “speaking out against religious intolerance, including advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence.”

These words simultaneously tell the jihadists that the U.S. is playing ball.