It’s the sort of thing that can make someone proud to be an American: Two Christians are on trial now in Algeria for “insulting the prophet and denigrating the precepts of the Muslim religion.” Imagine: on trial for expressing opinions that go against those of the elites. But that could never happen here, right? We have the freedom of speech in the U.S. We can say anything we wish, aside from calls for violence or criminal activity, and express our opinions, no matter how unpopular, without fear of reprisal, right?
Wrong – as a recent incident in Tennessee illustrates.
“Tennessee legal watchdog out after lawyer accused him of being an ‘anti-Muslim bigot’” was the headline in Saturday’s edition of the Nashville Tennessean, and of course everyone despises bigotry, so most people might be inclined to think that the legal watchdog in question was entirely in the wrong and justifiably fired. But the details, as is so often the case, makes all this a great deal more complicated.
In the first place, the legal ethics watchdog, whose name is Jerry Morgan, was pressured to resign as disciplinary counsel for the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility because Nashville lawyer Brian Manookian, who according to the Tennessean “was suspended from practicing law last year after the Board of Professional Responsibility said he violated ethics rules by sending threatening emails,” accused him of this Islamophobic bigotry.
Manookian “said Morgan couldn’t do his job effectively because of multiple social media posts he made criticizing Muslims and the Islamic faith.” Manookian’s lawyer, Daniel Horwitz, claimed that Morgan’s judgment in Manookian’s case was tainted “because Manookian’s wife and children are Muslim,” and because Morgan has reportedly “made a slew of disparaging comments against Muslims on Twitter.”
What disparaging remarks did Morgan make? Did he say that Muslims were “the most vile of created beings”? No, that’s what the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an, calls non-Muslims (98:6). Did he call Muslims “apes and pigs”? No, that’s what the Qur’an calls Jews (2:63-65, 5:59-60, 7:166). Did he say Muslims were “unclean”? No, that’s what the Qur’an says of non-Muslims (9:28).
So what egregious statements did Morgan actually make?
As it turned out, he has been forced to resign for “praising President Donald Trump for ‘stopping Muslims’ and ‘talking big against Muslims,’” and “said Islam was not a peaceful religion and made comments linking the faith with violence and ‘Muslim terrorists.’”
Morgan, a court filing claimed, also showed “extreme prejudice toward minorities,” displaying “disturbing views on ‘blacks,’ ‘illegals’ and their children, and the ‘slave’ mentality of minorities.” Even worse, he “has made countless statements evidencing extreme prejudice against ‘liberals,’ ‘Democrats,’ and attorneys who support the Democratic Party in particular.”
On the basis of that, Horwitz intoned piously: “Allowing an extreme anti-Muslim bigot — whom Tennessee’s Board of Professional Responsibility has inexplicably employed and permitted to maintain prosecutions on our Supreme Court’s behalf — to undertake a prosecution against an attorney who has a Muslim family shakes confidence in the integrity of this entire proceeding.”
Manookian and Horwitz prevailed: The Administrative Office of the Courts started an investigation of Morgan, and he resigned. However, as he took a victory lap on Friday, Horwitz “said Morgan’s ‘apparent termination’ was driven by bad publicity rather than the content of his social media posts.”
That in a nutshell is why the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and allied organizations make a fuss when someone says something they don’t like: They know that most groups don’t have the stomach or the courage to stand up to the outrage mob, and so they will throw the putative offender under the bus just for the sake of peace.
Jerry Morgan’s statements are presented in the Tennessean in a highly pejorative light (of course), but all he essentially did was support Trump’s travel ban on people entering the U.S. from jihadi hotspots and other places where officials cannot or will not provide adequate information about those wishing to enter; said Islam was not a religion of peace; linked Islam with violence, as Islamic jihadis do every day; and supposedly demonstrated prejudice against minorities and dislike of Democrats. The prejudice against minorities appears only to consist of disapproving of the “slave mentality” of some, which was likely a reference to their tendency to vote Democrat even against their own best interests.
But such things cannot be said today. America reveres the freedom of speech, except when it doesn’t. Freedom of speech is fine for Leftists, but for anyone else, it’s an egregious offense for which one can be fired. What has happened to Jerry Morgan is a disquieting harbinger of worse to come.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.