This post, first published on September 3, 2011, needs to be repeated from time to time, and this is one of those times.
It could be retitled The need to knock religion:
The greatness of the West began with doubting. The idea that every belief, every assumption, should be critically examined started the might of Europe. When those old Greek thinkers who founded our civilization learnt and taught that no one has a monopoly of truth or ever will have, they launched the intellectual adventure that has carried the human race – not without a long interval in the doldrums – literally to the skies.
Socrates taught the utility of suspicion. He is reputed to have said, “The highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others.” He was not, however, the first to use doubt for discovery. Thales of Miletos, who was born 155 years before Socrates, dared to doubt that religion’s explanatory tales about how the world came to be as it is were to be trusted, and he began exploring natural phenomena in a way that we recognize as scientific. He is often called the Father of Science. With him and his contemporary, Anaximander, who argued with him by advancing alternative ideas, came the notion – for the first time as far as we know – that reason could fathom and describe how the universe worked.
Science is one of the main achievements of the West, but it is not the only product of constructive doubt that made for its greatness. Doubt as a habit of mind or tradition of thinking meant that new, foreign, even counter-intuitive ideas were not dismissed. Europe, before and after it stagnated in the doldrums of the long Catholic Christian night (and even to some extent during those dark centuries), was hospitable to ideas wherever they came from.
Totally opposed to this intellectual openness were the churches with their dogma. Those who claim that the achievements of our civilization are to be credited to Christianity (or in the currently fashionable phrase to “the Judeo-Christian tradition”) have a hard case to make. It was the rediscovery of the Greek legacy in the Renaissance in the teeth of Christian dogmatism, and the new freedom from religious persecution exploited by the philosophers of the Enlightenment that re-launched the West on its intellectual progress, to become the world’s nursery of innovation and its chief factory of ideas.
Our civilization cannot survive without this openness. Critical examination is the breath that keeps it alive. But it is in danger of suffocation. It is more threatened now than it has been for the last four hundred years by dogmatisms: Marxism, environmentalism, religion – above all Islam which absolutely forbids criticism.
The Founding Fathers of the United States perfectly understood the necessity for an open market of ideas. Every citizen of the republic, they laid down, must be free to declare his beliefs, to argue his case, to speak his mind, to examine ideas as publicly as he chose without fear of being silenced.
This warning comes from Nina Shea, writing in the National Review:
An unprecedented collaboration between the Obama administration and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC, formerly called the Organization of the Islamic Conference) to combat “Islamophobia” may soon result in the delegitimization of freedom of expression as a human right.
The administration is taking the lead in an international effort to “implement” a U.N. resolution against religious “stereotyping,” specifically as applied to Islam. To be sure, it argues that the effort should not result in free-speech curbs. However, its partners in the collaboration, the 56 member states of the OIC, have no such qualms. Many of them police private speech through Islamic blasphemy laws and the OIC has long worked to see such codes applied universally. Under Muslim pressure, Western Europe now has laws against religious hate speech that serve as proxies for Islamic blasphemy codes.
Last March, U.S. diplomats maneuvered the adoption of Resolution 16/18 within the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC). Non-binding, this resolution, inter alia, expresses concern about religious “stereotyping” and “negative profiling” but does not limit free speech. It was intended to — and did — replace the OIC’s decidedly dangerous resolution against “defamation of religions,” which protected religious institutions instead of individual freedoms.
But thanks to a puzzling U.S. diplomatic initiative that was unveiled in July, Resolution 16/18 is poised to become a springboard for a greatly reinvigorated international effort to criminalize speech against Islam, the very thing it was designed to quash.
Citing a need to “move to implementation” of Resolution 16/18, the Obama administration has inexplicably [not if Obama’s Islamophilia is remembered – ed] decided to launch a major international effort against Islamophobia in partnership with the Saudi-based OIC. This is being voluntarily assumed at American expense, outside the U.N. framework, and is not required by the resolution itself.
On July 15, a few days after the Norway massacre, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton co-chaired an OIC session in Istanbul on religious intolerance. It was there that she announced the initiative, inviting the OIC member-states’ foreign ministers and representatives to the inaugural meeting of the effort that the U.S. government would host this fall in Washington. She envisions it as the first in a series of meetings to decide how best to implement Resolution 16/18.
In making the announcement, Clinton was firm in asserting that the U.S. does not want to see speech restrictions: “The resolution calls upon states to ‘counter offensive expression through education, interfaith dialogue, and public debate . . . but not to criminalize speech unless there is an incitement to imminent violence.’” (This is the First Amendment standard set forth in the 1969 Supreme Court case of Brandenburg v. Ohio.)
With the United States providing this new world stage for presenting grievances of “Islamophobia” against the West, the OIC rallied around the initiative as the propaganda windfall that it is. It promptly reasserted its demands for global blasphemy laws, once again sounding the call of its failed U.N. campaign for international laws against the so-called defamation of Islam. It has made plain its aim to use the upcoming conference to further pressure Western governments to regulate speech on behalf of Islam.
The aim of the OIC is to criminalize criticism of Islam, though it might go along with banning the criticism of religion in general as an interim step. It will reserve to itself the right to condemn all other religions and beliefs, but allege that any criticism of Islam is incitement to violence – and call angry crowds on to the streets to prove it.
Islam is now the major threat to the West. Its ideas are the very opposite of those on which the USA was founded. It is an ideology of intolerance and cruelty. It forbids the free expression of thought. By its very nature, even if it were not now on a mission of world conquest (which it is), it is the enemy of the West.
The best way to defeat it is by criticizing it, constantly and persistently, in speech and writing, on the big screen and the small screen, in the schools and academies, in all the media of information and comment, in national and international assemblies.
If the weapon of words is forbidden, the only alternative will be guns.
Human survival depends on progress, and progress depends on the criticism of ideas.
Religions are the most dangerous sets of ideas because they are the most dogmatic. Dogma chains and cripples the mind. It denies knowledge and prevents discovery and innovation. The only possible form of argument between opposing dogmas is violence. Religions must be questioned.
Any idea that requires a law to protect it from criticism is ipso facto a bad idea.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation [formerly the Organization of the Islamic Conference], the United Nations, and the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are actively engaged in trying to silence criticism of Islam. If their campaign succeeds it will greatly advance Islam’s jihad, its war to impose universal Islamic rule.
The victory of Islam would put humanity under a death sentence.
How successful is the campaign thus far? Nathaniel Sugarman writes at The Legal Project:
[In early December, 2012) the United States met with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in London to discuss whether speaking about religion can violate international law. The meeting represents round three of the “Istanbul Process,” an effort Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched in July 2011 in the eponymous Turkish city. The initiative’s goal is to implement non-binding UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, which itself calls for the criminalization of various forms of speech concerning religion. The OIC, an association of 56 Islamic member states and the Palestinian Authority, represents the largest voting bloc in the United Nations.
The renewed Istanbul Process talks come just a month after a UN official urged the United States to combat racism by adopting a “solid legal framework” for regulating internet speech. …
Why should the United States be concerned with the rapporteur’s recommendations regarding internet speech regulation? After all, “freedom of expression and opinion,” according to the report, should not be impeded by any of the new proposed “measures.” And why be concerned about the Istanbul Process? It seems to merely condemn incitement, which the United States does not protect in any case.
An answer requires closer examination of the terms of art used by the respective parties.
Resolution 16/18 calls for criminalization of “incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief,” and it “condemns… any advocacy of religious hatred against individuals that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” At first glance, this language does not seem restrictive; even in the U.S., incitement is not a protected form of speech. The issue is the respective ways in which the U.S. and the OIC define “incitement.” U.S. Courts use a content-based test to determine whether speech is incitement … In order for speech to be unprotected as incitement, the speech must (1) intend to produce imminent lawless action, and must be (2) likely to produce such action. In other words, there is both a subjective and objective prong, both concerning the speech itself. By contrast, the OIC endorses a “test of consequences,” which punishes speech based not on its content, but based on the result. This is a completely subjective test, and fails to consider the words uttered by the speaker, focusing only on the reaction of others. How would this play out in practice? Violence claimed to be in response to cartoons of Muhammad, could, under the OIC’s definition, retroactively define the cartoons as incitement. Surely, this framework is in direct conflict with U.S. law.
The rapporteur’s suggestions regarding internet hate speech regulation also conflict with U.S. law upon closer examination. While various European laws limit the nebulous concept of “racist” or “hateful” speech, in the United States, hate speech remains constitutionally protected. The issue here is that the UN’s recommendations do not suggest a required compliance with U.S. constitutional norms, but rather “international human rights standards,” a mean of myriad laws that would necessarily afford less protection than would U.S. legal standards. For example, Denmark, France and the Netherlands all have statutes prohibiting “hate” speech, that is, speech which in various ways involves the target’s race or religious practice. The case could therefore be made that insulting a person based on their race or religion does indeed violate international human rights standards. However, punishing this type of conduct in the United States would violate the First Amendment. Again, as with the Istanbul Process, this creates a direct conflict between U.S. and international law. …
In perhaps the most famous case directly pitting U.S. law against international law, Medellin v. Texas, the Supreme Court ruled that U.S. law controls. In that 2008 case, the Mexican government attempted to stop the State of Texas from executing Medellin, a Mexican national. Mexico had abolished capital punishment; Texas had, and still has, not done so. The court applied Texas law and the state executed the convicted rapist and murderer. Justice Roberts articulated the rule that not all international law obligations automatically constitute binding federal law enforceable in U.S. courts. In other words, the United States dictates United States law, not international entities. …
It cannot be overstated that since the U.S. is truly an outlier in regards to how much speech is protected by law, any international norm will necessarily be less protective of speech than the First Amendment standard. The Legal Project believes that rather than endorsing restrictive international speech codes, the U.S. should be promoting the idea that the right to speak freely is far more important than the right to be free from criticism and offense.
But will the Obama administration uphold the First Amendment?
There is reason to doubt that it even wants to, as this video (from Front Page) demonstrates. Some of the clips show how Muslims make use of the right of free speech in order to deride it and campaign to suppress it.
All our training manuals have been purged of the true nature of the threat from Islam and Shariah.
We quote from an important article in the Washington Times by Retired Admiral James A. Lyons, former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet:
The U.S. Army’s final-draft handbook … indoctrinates our military personnel heading to Afghanistan in how to be sensitive to and accept Muslim and Afghan 7th-century customs and values — or possibly be killed by our Afghan partners.
Unbelievable. This is being done to prevent the so-called “green-on-blue” attacks, which have cost 63 American lives this year.
According to the Army’s Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., it is our military’s ignorance and lack of empathy for Muslim and Afghan cultural norms that is the basic cause for our Afghan military partners to react violently and kill our troops.
For example, if our military personnel hear or witness an Afghan soldier sodomizing a young boy, the handbook tells U.S. service members to voice no objection, accept it or ignore it, or they could be killed. If an Afghan beats, rapes or kills a woman in the presence of a U.S. serviceman, they are not to interfere or stand up for women’s rights or else they might be killed.
What the Army is saying, in effect, is that if Afghan partners conduct violence against U.S. service personnel, it is the serviceman’s fault. This is mind-boggling. We know, according to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, that nine out of 10 Afghan military personnel are illiterate and cannot be counted on in combat. Endemic corruption is embedded in Afghan culture and certainly extends to their military. They cannot be trusted.
Other cultural norms our professional U.S. military must accept without reservation by our Afghan partners is desertion, drug use, thievery, dog torture and collusion with the enemy, the Taliban. Also, U.S. military members must not discuss Islam in any form.
So the US military commanders know perfectly well that Afghans may be seen sodomizing young boys; beating, raping, killing women; deserting, taking drugs, stealing, torturing dogs, and colluding with the enemy – and they want to tolerate it. Why are American forces in Afghanistan at all? What have they been fighting for these eleven years and more? What do they risk their lives for?
All of this guidance is un-American. It is totally against our core principles and everything we stand for as Americans. It threatens to further diminish our military principles, stature and fighting spirit. …
We will be forcing our military to submit to Islam and its governing Shariah law or die — exactly the choice offered to infidels who have been vanquished by jihad. Our military’s silence and acquiescence would be the humiliating price for their existence.
This should be seen as another attempt to undercut our professional military and our warrior reputation that has guaranteed our freedom and way of life for the past 236 years.
None of this humiliating guidance should come as a surprise. The Obama administration has had a massive purge under way to remove all training manuals, lectures and instructors who link Islamic doctrine and its governing Shariah law in a factual way to Islamic terrorism. These manuals are being removed from all government agencies, including the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies. All our training manuals have been purged of the true nature of the threat from Islam and Shariah.
The degrading of our military’s fundamental principles should be viewed in a much broader perspective. We cannot overlook the fact that with or without sequestration, we are unilaterally disarming our military force. This is happening in spite of an uncertain world situation with the Mideast still in a state of turmoil and evolving threats posed by China, Russia and Iran.
Separately, we see our First Amendment rights being trashed by our secretary of state through her participation in the Istanbul Process championed by the 57-member-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The OIC is sponsoring a United Nations mandate that would make it a crime to express anything they consider blasphemous against Islam or the Prophet Muhammad. This same theme was expressed by President Obama in his September speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
If these attacks on America’s exceptionalism and core principles are collectively analyzed, it appears that there is an insidious agenda at work to fundamentally change America. All of these negative factors must be challenged and defeated.
As a first step, the Army’s draft handbook should be trashed.
Second, Congress must take positive action to protect our First Amendment rights and force the Obama administration to withdraw from any further participation in the Istanbul Process.
Third, the unilateral disarmament of our military must be reversed. It’s time for members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to take a position that supports the oath they took to protect and defend our Constitution.
Challenge their pacifist commander-in-chief, who has never served in the armed forces, has an emotional attachment to Islam, and disregards his own oath to defend the US Constitution?
It would be a great thing if they would do it.
Did you hear the one about a crowd of terrorists holding a conference in the name of counter-terrorism? Sponsored by the Obama administration? What’s painfully funny about it is that it really happened.
Diana West writes at Townhall:
The Washington Free Beacon reported this week on the continuing omission of Israel from a U.S.-sponsored organization called the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). At a recent forum meeting in Spain, Maria Otero, U.S. undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights, delivered a speech titled “Victims of Terrorism,” but, in her roll call of victims, she didn’t mention Israel. The conference at which she spoke was described as a “high-level conference on the victims of terrorism,” but Israel wasn’t a participant.
It bears repeating because it is so fantastic: At an international conference devoted to victims of terrorism, the world’s leading victim or, better, leading target of terrorism — Israel — was nowhere in sight, or mind.
Welcome to the GCTF — U.S. counterterrorism’s new “normal.” This 30-member organization got its official start last September as a “major initiative” of the Obama administration when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced its launch in New York.
It was quite an occasion; Hillary curled her hair. Seated next to her Turkish co-chairman, ensconced amid ministers from Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates …
All of which are or have been breeding-grounds of terrorists, and some of which – Turkey, Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan – are or have been active state sponsors of terrorism …
… and 18 other miscellaneous member-states plus the European Union, she then said the magic words: “From London to Lahore, from Madrid to Mumbai, from Kabul to Kampala, it’s innocent civilians who have been targeted …”
Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashkelon? Poof, gone. And that’s the point: This new counterterrorism organization, with its related counterterrorism center coming soon to Abu Dhabi, is Judenfrei. Not coincidentally, it is also heavily Islamic. Eleven member-states — slightly more than one-third of the organization’s membership — also belong to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a bloc of 56 Islamic countries working to impose Islamic law (Shariah) on the world. Six of those 11 members additionally belong to the Arab League. Both groups have defined “terrorism” to exclude Israeli victims (sometimes U.S. soldiers), and “terrorists” to exclude groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. It is no wonder the Arab-Islamic members would now unite in “counterterrorism” without Israel.
What is both shocking and shameful, however, is that the U.S. would, too. It shows that the U.S. has implicitly but clearly accepted the Arab League/OIC definitions of terrorism and terrorists. …
Their implied definition of terrorism is: “Israel defending itself”. Their implied definition of terrorist: a Jew.
Under the Bushes … while Israel was not permitted to fight alongside coalition forces, at least it was still recognized for withstanding more than 60 years of Islamic terrorist attacks. Today, under the auspices of the Obama administration, Israel no longer rates mention even as a victim. “Big Satan” has thrown “Little Satan” to the sharks. Which says two things about Big Satan. Our institutions now see the world from the Islamic perspective, and, as far as the sharks go, we’re next.
And this is from politicalmavens.com by Rachel Raskin-Zrihen:
So, there’s this Global Counterterrorism Forum comprised of 32 countries, including the United States, Columbia, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand. It also includes the European Union, nine European countries, 10 Arab/Muslim countries and three Asian ones.
This group was formed last year, under the United States’ leadership, for policymakers and experts in the counterterrorism field to share insights and best practices.0
Great idea, right?
Inexplicably, however, not included in the forum is Israel, easily in the top three on the list of the world’s most frequent terror targets and likely the most skilled at fighting the scourge. …
Inexplicably? Not at all. It could not be more obvious: Obama loves Islam and hates Israel.
Since no explanation has been offered by our government, we are left to speculate about why this is happening, and I suspect that were they to deign to explain their actions, Obama Administration officials would likely say it’s about getting the nations where the terrorists are spawned to help fight them, without pissing them off by inviting the Jews. It’s the only thing they can say, really. But I’m not buying it. And I’m not the only one.
After it was learned that the United State’s “best friend and closest ally” was excluded from this forum, our country’s officials assured those expressing concern that “a way would be found” to include it.
I find it peculiar, since we created the forum and Israel is among our closest allies and an expert on the issue, that a special way must be found to include it, different from the way the others came to be on the panel, but, evidently, it does.
However, it’s been a year and nothing has changed. Maybe they thought no one would notice.
But, at least two U.S. Senators did notice and wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who attended this forum, and demanded to know why this glaring omission remains uncorrected.
Also, the Simon Wiesenthal Center took exception to the blatant insult, not to mention the stupidity of failing to include the player with the most direct experience with the phenomenon and the best track record at fighting it, and fired off an urgent letter of protest to Ms. Clinton.
The center’s founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, reportedly wrote of his awareness that Turkey and some others “oppose an Israeli presence,” but notes that – SO THE EFF WHAT?
Are we trying to fight the most deadly dangerous threat to humanity to ever have slithered out of hell, or are we trying to appease the Arabs?
Answer: Obama and Hillary Clinton are trying to appease the Arabs.
Rabbi Hier also said that “having a Global Counterterrorism Forum and not including Israel, is like having a global technology conference and excluding the United States of America.” And, noting “there is no one with more experience at combating terrorism or educating civilians about it, than the State of Israel,” he said, “I think the time has come for the United States to make it very clear why Israel continues to be excluded.”
Me, too. But, I’m not sure we’ll get an honest answer, or, if we do, we’re prepared to hear it.
The first, and most obvious explanation, is that the Arab/Muslim contingent “objects” to the Jewish state’s inclusion. In other words, the bully objects to the victim’s presence at a discussion ostensibly designed to stop bullying.
Bullying is too mild a word, of course, but her point is good.
It’s a phenomenon similar to the so-called Anti-Racism conference in Durban, South Africa, which was actually an officially sanctioned, international Jew-and-Israel-bashing free-for-all, with a name that really only served to add insult to injury.
It’s another act of bullying, right in our face, and we – and by we I mean the United States and the rest of the free, normal-thinking world – is afraid to set the crazies off by defying their demands. …
This is unfortunate, obviously, because it’s proof certain that terrorism is working to cow even the world’s greatest powers.
In the light of this, the appointment of an Israeli as the UN Security Council’s top counterterrorism lawyer is simply astounding.
The Washington Post reports:
The United Nations has promoted a former Israeli government attorney to a job as the Security Council’s top counterterrorism lawyer, making him the only Israeli national serving in a senior security position within the U.N. Secretariat … David Scharia has been appointed legal coordinator for the Counter-Terrorism Committee executive directorate, where he will oversee a team of 12 international legal experts who advise the 15-nation Security Council on its counterterrorism efforts. The appointment would not typically be notable were it not so uncommon for Israelis to reach the upper levels at the United Nations. … Of the more than 44,000 international employees within the United Nations, only 124 are Israeli, according to the U.N. None serve in the top ranks of the most sensitive political jobs, which are responsible for maintaining international security, mediating peace deals and coordinating humanitarian assistance.
Why suddenly is an Israeli appointed to such a job at the UN?
Our preference would be for Congress to cut off all funds to the disgusting UN. The UN should be wiped off the face of the earth. See our post Why the UN must be destroyed, June 12, 2012.