Another Obama Assault on Free Speech
by Robert Spencer
The Obama Administration's latest assault on the freedom of speech is so audacious that it leaves me speechless – and that's the idea.
According to Politico, Bill Killian, the Obama-appointed U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, "is reportedly vowing to use federal civil rights statutes to clamp down on offensive and inflammatory speech about Islam." Said Killian: "We need to educate people about Muslims and their civil rights, and as long as we're here, they're going to be protected."
Killian and an unnamed FBI special agent are holding a meeting Tuesday evening with local Muslim groups in Manchester, Tennessee. "This is an educational effort with civil rights laws," Killian explained, "as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion. This is also to inform the public what federal laws are in effect and what the consequences are."
Killian offered an example: "a recent controversy where a local Tennessee politician posted a photo of a man aiming a shotgun at the camera with the caption 'How to wink at a Muslim.'" He asked the rhetorical question: "If a Muslim had posted 'How to Wink at a Christian,' could you imagine what would have happened?"
The problem, however, is that neither the Obama Administration nor Islamic supremacist groups that have been campaigning against the freedom of speech for years – notably the 57-government Organization of Islamic Cooperation – have ever drawn any kind of distinction between genuinely threatening speech (which the shotgun photo may arguably have been) and honest analysis of how jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism.
On the contrary, they conflate the two, thus smearing as "hateful" all examination of the motives and goals of the jihad terrorists who have vowed to destroy the United States and conquer the free world. Obama did this in 2011 when he mandated the scrubbing of counter-terror training materials of the truth about Islam and jihad. Truth about the exhortations to warfare and conquest in the Qur'an and the teachings of Muhammad was now "hate" and "bigotry," to be jettisoned.
And Obama, of course, has been at war with this most fundamental of freedoms for quite some time. In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 16/18, with the support of the Obama administration. It called upon Western states to pass laws that would criminalize "defamation of religion" – i.e., criticism of Islam. This was no isolated incident. Right after the Benghazi jihad massacre, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed to have the producer of a video about Muhammad – the one that Administration officials falsely blamed for the attack — "arrested and prosecuted." The filmmaker is still the only person in prison for those attacks, ostensibly for a minor parole violation, but clearly for the crime of exercising his freedom of speech. And those are just two of the many ways in which the Obama Administration has shown itself to be a foe of the First Amendment.
Nonetheless, the First Amendment still remains, for now – at least until a case involving the question of whether what the Administration deems to be "hate speech" enjoys constitutional protection comes before an Obama-majority Supreme Court. But the idea of circumventing it using existing civil rights laws is a new wrinkle. "The Department of Justice," Politico noted, "did not respond Friday to a question about what guidelines it draws concerning offensive speech and Islam, or whether the department believes that civil rights statutes could be used to stifle criticism of Islam."
It is doubtful that they didn't respond because the thought of doing such a thing had never crossed anyone's mind there. In July 2012, then-Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division was asked by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ): "Will you tell us here today that this Administration's Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?" Perez (whom Obama has now nominated to be Secretary of Labor) refused to rule out such a proposal – strongly suggesting by his refusal that the Obama Administration is indeed contemplating ways to circumvent the First Amendment and outlaw criticism of Islam.
If this ever happens, it's all over. If the U.S. adopts any kind of law criminalizing criticism of Islam, that would be the end of any resistance to jihad, as we will be rendered mute and thus defenseless against its advance. And while this possibility still seems wildly farfetched to most people, it must be borne in mind that the First Amendment does not automatically enforce itself. If those charged with guarding and protecting it are determined to do away with it, they can hedge it around with nuances and exceptions that will render it as toothless and essentially void as the Second Amendment already is in many major cities.
The seminar in Tennessee is just one skirmish in a long war. But it is a war that most Americans have no idea is even being fought. And as Lenin and the Bolsheviks demonstrated, that is how determined and organized minorities subdue larger but careless or indifferent foes. If the mainstream media were doing their jobs, Bill Killian and his little workshop would be front page news nationwide, and Killian would be facing extremely tough questioning about his authoritarian tendencies and the anti-freedom agenda he is pursuing. That he is not, and that the mainstream media are largely indifferent to this story, will only hasten its demise.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and other pro-freedom organizations will be holding a demonstration for free speech on June 4th at 5:30pm Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center, 147 Hospitality Blvd, in Manchester, Tennessee. Then the DoJ event follows from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PMat the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center, 147 Hospitality Blvd, in Manchester. Please join us to stand for freedom.
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