Egypt???s Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohammed Morsi, kicked off his first address to the United Nations General Assembly with a ritual invocation ???in the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.??? That???s a little odd, because it seems like only yesterday that President Obama???s Director of National Intelligence was telling us the Muslim Brotherhood was a ???largely secular??? organization.
And wouldn???t you know it, Morsi got right back into non-secular affairs after the standard-issue denunciations of Israeli ???occupation,??? ???colonization,??? and ???settlement activities.??? An imaginary nation called ???Palestine??? figures into all of this somehow. It???s complicated, especially because Israel has been quite intransigent about refusing to commit suicide.
Morsi joined world leaders dubious about the American concept of free speech, including Barack Obama, and indulged in a bit of amateur film criticism:
What Muslims and migrants are going through in a number of regions worldwide, in terms of discrimination and violation of their human rights, and vicious campaigns against what they hold sacred, is unacceptable. It is opposed to the most basic principles of the Charter of the Organization where we meet today. These practices have become pervasive enough that they now carry a name: ???Islamophobia.???
We must join hands in confronting these regressive ideas that hinder cooperation among us. We must act together in the face of extremism, discrimination, and incitement to hatred on the basis of religion or race. The General Assembly, as well as the Security Council, has the principal responsibility in addressing this phenomenon that is starting to have implications that clearly affect international peace and security.
The obscenities recently released as part of an organized campaign against Islamic sanctities is unacceptable and requires a firm stand. We have a responsibility in this international gathering to study how we can protect the world from instability and hatred. Egypt respects freedom of expression.
One that is not used to incite hatred against anyone. One that is not directed towards one specific religion or culture.
A freedom of expression that tackles extremism and violence. Not the freedom of expression that deepens ignorance and disregards others. But we also stand firmly against the use of violence in expressing objection to these obscenities.
I should point out to Mr. Morsi that the term ???Islamophobia??? is hardly new. It???s been getting kicked around the United States since shortly after the man-caused disaster in New York City in September 2001. All criticism of groups favored by our liberal political elite is defined as a ???phobia.??? On the other hand, even the most venomous hatred of politically incorrect groups is never described that way.
It???s how we talk over here, Mr. President. You???ll get used to it.
Morsi says unacceptable free speech ???is starting to have implications that clearly affect international peace and security,??? but ???we also stand firmly against the use of violence in expressing objection to these obscenities.???
Well, there???s your solution: If nobody uses violence to express objections to perceived obscenities, we won???t have any implications that clearly affect international peace and security. It???s all covered in something we Americans like to call the ???First Amendment.??? Egypt, and everyone else, can have it for free. I think we???ll even be willing to look the other way on copyright violations if you copy it down word for word. Note well it absolutely does not forbid the expression of speech that ???deepens ignorance and disregards others.???
Morsi is good at co-opting the language of Western liberal politics into his speeches, as he repeatedly inveighs against ???extremism??? and ???inciting hatred.??? More importantly, he brings the American faculty lounge concept of power politics to the great Islamist project of enshrining Islamic law above Western constitutions ??? namely, the idea that offense lies entirely in the ears of the listener, and some listeners have exceptionally sensitive ears. This allows calculations of political power to shape and control speech and thought. ???Shut up or we???ll kill you??? is a very elementary example of such a calculation.
President Obama’s obsessive focus on That Damned Video, and his Administration’s relentless eagerness to denounce it, are only feeding the perception of Islamist leaders that America might be getting ready to cave on this whole free-speech thing. Obama won’t stop talking about it, so why should they? Radical Islam feels no pressure to reform. Obama gives them an all-purpose excuse to talk about anything except their own failures and responsibilities. Once the free world accepts a tiny dose of the poisonous notion that the expression of “blasphemy” is wrong, everything that follows is mere negotiation, rather than the assertion of inviolate principle.
Here???s something for Mohammed Morsi and all the other freedom of speech skeptics to chew on: if your populace degenerates into violence because of a video, the problem is with your culture, not the video. I know it’s hard to hear such blunt talk, but as long as one American patriot draws breath, you will never, ever take away my right to deliver it.