View Full Version : Criticism of Islam Is New Front in PC War, Media Expert Says

09-24-2010, 07:05 PM
Criticism of Islam Is New Front in PC War, Media Expert Says
The mere act of criticizing Islam has become an act of politically incorrect hate speech, a media analyst and free-speech advocate says, citing several incidents in recent weeks where people have been lambasted publicly for their remarks.
"We're living in a 'here and now' where no one's allowed to say anything bad about Islam, it seems," says Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture at the Media Research Center.
The most recent transgressor, he says, is Marty Peretz, the editor-in-chief of The New Republic and a former Harvard professor, who has come under attack for a Sept. 4 blog post in which he wrote: "Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims," and questioned whether Muslims deserved protection from the First Amendment.
Peretz apologized for the posting nine days later, saying he deeply regretted the statements and that he was genuinely embarrassed. But that did not stop Harvard students, faculty and alumni from writing an open letter to Harvard President Drew Faust in which they protested Peretz's appearance, scheduled for Saturday, at a Harvard anniversary ceremony.
Harvard has also drawn criticism for accepting an undergraduate research endowment fund created by relatives, former students and colleagues in Peretz's name. The fund's proposed amount has recently increased from $500,000 to $650,000, leading some social studies professors to interpret the increase as an indication of support for Peretz, Simon Sternin, a Harvard alum and an organizer of the petition, told the Harvard Crimson.
But Gainor says criticism of Peretz's comments has gotten out of hand.
"We're fighting a war against radical Islam," Gainor told FoxNews.com. "For radical Islam, life is cheap, both for their lives and our lives. The left has become so indoctrinaire that they're more concerned about being politically correct than they are about protecting our nation."
The media is complicit, too, Gainor said, accusing them of "zooming in on anybody who is saying anything critical of Islam."
To illustrate his point, Gainor recalled Derek Fenton, the New Jersey man who lost his job of 11 years at NJ Transit, the state's public transportation corporation, after he burned a Koran outside the site of the planned "Ground Zero Mosque" on Sept. 11. Fenton, 39, was not arrested, but he nevertheless lost his job because NJ Transit said his actions violated their code of ethics.
"The lack of media indignation on that one is astonishing," Gainor said. "Our media allegedly embraces free speech, but it doesn't. It only embraces free speech that doesn't possibly offend Islam. If he had been fired for burning a Bible, he would've been on every evening network news show. It's free speech. It's not something I would do, but it's still free speech."
Gainor also pointed to the case of Pastor Terry Jones, the Gainesville, Fla., minister who threatened to burn the Koran on Sept. 11 but changed his mind after a call from the White House. Jones' threat became global news, inciting protests and threats of reprisal in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
"Again, it shows how PC we've become," Gainor said. "Some idiot can burn a book anywhere in the country, but if you dare burn a Koran, it becomes an international incident."
Just last week, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said he's not prepared to conclude that the First Amendment condones burning the Koran.
"[Oliver Wendell] Holmes said it doesn't mean you can shout 'fire' in a crowded theater," Breyer told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. "Well, what is it? Why? Because people will be trampled to death. And what is the crowded theater today? What is being trampled to death?"
The issue "will be answered over time in a series of cases," Breyer said.
Meanwhile, Ari Ravin-Havt, vice president of research and communications at Media Matters strongly disagreed with Gainor's assertion that "no one's allowed to say anything bad" about Islam.
"If that were true, bigots like [blogger] Pam Geller would not be consistently given a platform on television to spew their hate, and Marty Peretz wouldn't be editor-in-chief of The New Republic," Ravin-Havt said.
He said Peretz has the right to say "something incredibly offensive, inaccurate and wrong," by suggesting that Muslims are not entitled to the same constitutional protections as other Americans.
"And other people have the right to tell you that what you said was wrong, and to assemble with others to collectively send that message," he continued. "Our freedom of speech is our most important right and it works two ways."
Gainor also compared Peretz's case to that of Molly Norris, the Seattle-based cartoonist who has gone into hiding after declaring May 20 to be "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day!" and calling for people to draw caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. That led to death threats and the placement of Norris on an execution list by Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
Gainor said the fact that Norris has reportedly gone into hiding to protect herself from reprisal attacks is another example of political correctness gone awry when it pertains to Islam.
"The media is making it seem like Americans are the ones who are wrong and backwards," he said. "But it's the reaction that's wrong and backward."
Why Is America Curbing Free Speech, and Giving Extremists What They Want?
By Daniel Huff
The struggle for civil rights in the last century forged a national commitment to preserving free speech in the face of hostile audiences. At the beginning of this century, it is alarming how quickly the Koran controversy that erupted before 9/11 melted that resolve.
Initially, everyone from Mayor Bloomberg to the White House affirmed a right to burn the book even as they condemned the act. Then Gen. David Petraeus got involved, followed by the FBI, and now Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer says Koran burning may not be protected speech after all.
The key to this rapid reversal was General Petraeus’ warning that Koran burning “could endanger troops” and the war effort. Although styled as a request not a demand, his comments laid the legal foundation for compelled government censorship. The reason is that First Amendment rights are not absolute. The Constitution permits the government to censor speech if necessary to achieve a compelling government interest. This is a very high standard, but the fact that the nation’s top commander made a rare public appeal for restraint will be cited as strong evidence that avoiding offense to Muslims is essential to the national interest.
Once this dangerous premise is accepted, the door is open to court injunctions against speech that inflames Muslim sentiment in strategically important locations.
It has already started.
Recently, the New Jersey Transit Authority fired an 11-year veteran employee for burning the Koran at a 9/11 rally. Ordinarily, a government employee cannot be dismissed for expressing personal views on a matter of public concern unless it interferes with the orderly functioning of the workplace. Should he sue, the government may try the “Petraeus defense.”
Hopefully it will fail.
In a series of cases arising out of civil rights demonstrations, the Supreme Court explicitly held that free expression cannot be limited “simply because it might offend a hostile mob.”
An alternative rule, would reward bad behavior creating what First Amendment experts call a “heckler’s veto.” Dunlap v. City of Chicago illustrates the extent of this principle. Officials had denied demonstrators a permit to march in a predominantly white area because every prior similar protest in the vicinity had resulted in violence. When they sued, the district court not only ordered the city to permit the parade, it also demanded officials provide policemen “in such numbers as … are required to afford adequate protection” to the marchers. When the violence officials feared materialized, the court allowed a suit against the city for providing insufficient police protection.
The argument that speech should be censored to prevent violence was rejected in the civil rights context and it should not be accepted now.
That is what made it so frustrating to hear the president, in the very same appearance, denounce Koran burning for fear of offending Muslims, but insist the First Amendment rights of the Ground Zero Mosque planners trump the “extraordinary sensitivities around 9/11.” In essence, opponents of the Ground Zero mosque project are being punished for not being violent.
The perverseness of this approach is even starker considering there is no genuine First Amendment issue in the Ground Zero context. That provision places constraints on the government; not on the general public’s right to pressure a religious group.
By contrast, the administration’s pressure on the Florida pastor, which included dispatching the FBI to impress upon him that his life would be in danger, carries the distinct flavor of prohibited government interference.
Legal wrangling aside, the administration has it backwards from a strategic standpoint. Insisting Americans curb their First Amendment rights in deference to Muslims, but not asking Muslims to do the same when Americans are offended creates a privileged status for Islam which is exactly what the extremists want. Their goal is to impose a radical brand of Islamic law on society at large. Censoring speech that insults or critiques Islam is the first step in this process and the US government should not be doing it for them.
Even at the tactical level it doesn’t make sense. The Obama administration argued Koran burnings could function as a “recruitment tool for Al Qaeda.” But anyone who could actually be driven to terrorism by a stunt from a handful of individuals thousands of miles away is no moderate. He was going to be set off eventually anyway. Better to flush him into the open now.
Senior military officials also worried it would hurt our efforts to “win hearts and minds.” Afghans “do not understand either the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment or the fact that President Barack Obama can't simply issue a decree to stop” Koran burning.
It would be one thing if Afghan operations were just beginning and America’s good faith needed to be established. But U.S. forces have been there 9 years. If the billions spent and thousands lost are not proof enough of America’s commitment, nothing ever will be.
As such, curbing free speech rights buys only temporary appeasement and it comes at a high cost. Not only do we compromise our principles, but it emboldens extremists who will conclude the Administration is so fearful of retaliation it jettisoned its inaugural promise to reject the “false …choice between our safety and our ideals.”

09-25-2010, 08:03 AM
I don't know.

Lets say that someone, anyone, anywhere, wants to badmouth "Christianity" based on stuff that happened long before any of us were born. So, it boggled my mind to find, on just a cursory check, the shear enormity of of Christian sects - almost 40k.


And presumably every one of them with a "I'm right and you're wrong" mouth piece for God mentality as they go about proselytizing one another and anyone else they can corner.

So, which one gets to be the poster boy for the purpose of reviling?

And I believe it, to a certain extent, to be the same with Islam. Brief example http://www.rickross.com/reference/islamic/islamic27.html.

Yesterday afternoon I had a conversation with a Persian woman who described herself as a believer of Bahai, she would love to talk to me about it. A brief internet search informed me that Bahai is descended from Shiite Islam, but it has quite a difference from my understanding of Mohammedism. It seems to be a hybrid of religions - a little from here and a little from there. I would like to see how her story as a minority religion believer in Iran corresponds with that of my Persian Jew friend.

Generally I despise the middle Eastern (yes and maybe hypocritically I'll use the words) rag head proprietors of liquor stores in America. And I hate with a passion those assholes down the road who ran out out of their store into the street cheering and dancing immediately after the planes crashed into the towers. I'm surprised their store didn't mysteriously catch fire or that they actually still have business.

However, there is a Palestinian liquor store owner I know (who is a believer of Islam, but not radicalized) with whom I've had several very interesting conversations with - he related that his mother once told him that Israelis and Palestinians are like brothers who hate each other, and with the story of Jacob and Esau perhaps that's true in a fashion.

And I believe that behind all the rhetoric, that is what the "Great Satan America" of Muslim extremist expression (such as extreme interpretation of Sunni derived Wahhabism) is all about - a family fight which is thousands of years old exploited by outsiders as a means to an end.

It's a political conflict cloaked in religion using on one side as pawns people with a culturally medieval mindset - quite a number of whom have neither running water nor education (and perhaps "Christianity" could also be perceived as a sect of Judaism) and on the other people who are bewildered and offended by such cultivated venom.

What is radicalization of belief? It can be a very powerful manipulative tool, something we have to beware of right here in the United States with extreme Fundamentalist Christianity as well as deal with in the form of international extreme Fundamentalist Mohammedanism.

Extremism is not exclusive to any creed, it is just as comfortable waving the cross as it is displaying the crescent, and extremism needs an enemy.