Why our right of free speech is in jeopardy.
The Obama administration continues to deny that we are at war with Islamist jihadists. Indeed, the word "jihad" itself is forbidden in Obama-land if used to describe the Islamist warriors. At its highest levels, the Obama administration insists on using bland euphemisms rather than accurate language describing the Islamist ideology we are fighting.
As far as the Obama administration is concerned, the global war against Islamist killers is an “Overseas Contingency Operation.” The Fort Hood massacre, in which thirteen people were killed and dozens more wounded by an Islamist jihadist, is described by Obama officials as "workplace violence."
In one of the most recent examples of political correctness gone amok, Paul Stockton, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, refused to acknowledge that we are fighting a radical ideology that has anything to do with Islam. Asked during a joint Senate-House committee hearing last week, conducted by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), whether "we are at war with violent Islamist extremism," Stockton said "No sir. We are at war with al-Qaeda, its affiliates." Stockton was then asked to at least concede that al-Qaeda is acting out violent Islamist extremism. Refusing to answer the question directly, he stuck to his talking point that "We are not at war with Islam."
Stockton was spewing his nonsense at the same time as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's State Department hosted a three-day international conference in Washington, D.C., which included her friends from the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), representatives from the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and representatives from countries and international organizations "selected on the basis of their geographic, religious, and political diversity." It turns out that more than a third of the countries selected were Muslim. The Arab League was represented in addition to the OIC. Religious diversity was not enough, however, to secure the Jewish state of Israel an invitation.
The purpose of the D.C. conference was to discuss ways to implement the provisions of a new United Nations resolution, the product of a deal reached between the OIC and the Obama administration, entitled “Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief.”
The deal was for the OIC to at least temporarily put on hold its annual campaign to have the United Nations pass its "defamation of religions" resolutions, in favor of the “compromise” resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council in March of this year and then passed by the UN General Assembly in November.
The title of the new "compromise" resolution may be different from the OIC's "Combating defamation of religions" resolutions that the OIC has successfully steered through the UN over the last ten years or so. However, the net effect is that with the new UN resolution in hand and the full cooperation of the Obama administration, the OIC will actually be closer to achieving its objective, which to stamp out speech deemed offensive to Muslims.
Continuing the Obama administration's submission to the OIC's wishes, Clinton met with OIC officials in Istanbul last July, at a conference she co-hosted, to embark on what has become known as the "Istanbul Process." The ostensible purpose of the Istanbul Process is to work with Muslim majority countries, the OIC and other interested nations on exploring specific steps to combat intolerance, negative stereotyping, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief.
Clinton, in full spin mode, insisted that the new UN resolution was totally consistent with the free speech protections of the First Amendment, as opposed to the "defamation of religions" resolutions that the OIC was willing to have replaced. At the same time, Clinton assured the OIC that she was perfectly on board with using “some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.” She also invited OIC representatives to Washington, D.C. to begin implementing the Istanbul Process, which culminated in last week's three-day closed door conference.
The OIC, meanwhile, is engaging in a bait and switch game. Reporting after the meeting in Istanbul on what it expected to happen next, the OIC stated: “The upcoming [Washington] meetings . . . [will] help in enacting domestic laws for the countries involved in the issue, as well as formulating international laws preventing inciting hatred resulting from the continued defamation of religions.” In other words, banning "defamation of religions" was still on the OIC's agenda, even if it had to be achieved through indirection.
About a month after the Istanbul meeting, OIC secretary general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu insisted that “no one has the right to insult another for their beliefs or to incite hatred and prejudice.”
Is Hillary Clinton so obtuse that she fails to understand the OIC's true intentions? Alternatively, is she trying to publicly assure American citizens that their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and press are safe, while working behind the scenes with her OIC partners to find acceptable ways to stifle speech offensive to Muslims? I think the latter is the case, as the Obama administration examines employing legal mechanisms such as hate speech laws and vigorous enforcement of very broadly interpreted anti-discrimination laws, as well as using the "shaming" campaign Clinton talked up in Istanbul. Her actions are right in line with Barack Obama's vow to the Muslim world in his June 2009 Cairo speech: “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam whenever they appear.”
Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and serving as a commissioner on the official but independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, was invited to attend just the opening and closing sessions of last week's conference. That was bad enough.
Shea was very concerned about the conference after it was first announced last July, seeing right through the OIC's maneuvering. She came away even more concerned after she heard what was being said at the conference, beyond Hillary Clinton's platitudes about the importance of free expression and religious tolerance. "It is a scandal that the US is partnering on an issue regarding free speech with an organization like the OIC that is committed to undermining free speech," Shea concluded.
Here, in Shea's own words, are some of the things she heard:
[L]egal and security officials of a delegation which will remain unnamed gave a sweeping overview of American founding principles on religious freedom and how they have been breached time and again in American history by attacks against a broad variety of religious minority groups — including now against Muslims. A raft of current cases was mentioned; America’s relative exemplary and distinctive achievement in upholding religious freedom in an emphatically pluralistic society was not. That same speaker reassured the audience, which was packed with diplomats from around the world, that the Obama administration is working diligently to prosecute American Islamophobes and is transforming the U.S. Justice Department into the conscience of the nation, though it could no doubt learn a thing or two from the assembled delegates on other ways to stop persistent religious intolerance in America.
As mentioned above, the three-day Washington, D.C. conference was closed to the public, with very little reporting on what went on - particularly on what transpired between the opening and closing sessions that Nina Shea attended. However, I did manage to learn of one illustrative closed break-out session that confirms Ms. Shea's concerns. The session consisted of a review by U.S. Department of Homeland officials regarding the training that the department delivers to federal, state, and local law enforcement on "Countering Violent Extremism," together with a mock training session. It was an exercise in multi-cultural and diversity training. Ignoring the Islamist source of the most dangerous acts of "violent extremism" today, the session showcased the kind of misleading, politically correct training that the Obama administration is pushing, including community outreach programs, guides for community interaction and discussion of purported stereotypes of religious communities.
The Obama administration is helping the OIC to immunize Islamist ideology and law from critical scrutiny, under the banner of combating "Islamophobia." As a result, our First Amendment right of free expression - starting with expression that the Obama administration and the Islamists "abhor" - are in jeopardy.
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