What Good Is Free Speech If You Can’t Exercise It?


[Photo: Geert Wilders]

By now, gallons of ink have been spilled on the recent meeting (over the May 2-3 weekend) in the Dallas area where the contest was held on who could draw the best picture of Mohammed.

Anti-jihadist blogger Pamela Geller of New York organized the contest. Two American jihadists drove hundreds of miles to kill the “infidels” and were killed in the process.

Franklin Graham remarked that the recent Garland conclave was misguided. As a Christian, he says we shouldn’t insult anybody’s religion. Like me, he believes the ultimate answer to the radical Islam issue is the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is more than just a prophet.

But Graham also pointed out that that radical Islamists “have no right to go around shooting people because someone mocks them.”

Free speech rights are found in those countries rooted in Judeo-Christian tradition. They are not found in those places built on other worldviews.

One of the most amazing aspects of the story was the largely unreported fact that Geert Wilders came all the way from Holland to attend the Garland meeting.

Who is Geert Wilders? He is a controversial Member of Parliament in the Netherlands and the founder of an upstart political party (Freedom Party), which has already begun to make its mark on that country’s politics.

Geert Wilders is taking a courageous stand by warning the West about the Islamization of the same and the freedoms lost in its wake.

He never sleeps in the same place more than two nights in a row because of the multiple death-threats he faces from “the religion of peace.”

In 2008, Geert Wilders made an Internet movie about radical Islam, called Fitna (Arabic for upheaval, chaos), and for that he is on trial in his own country for allegedly violating hate crimes laws. The European Union tried him for hate crimes, but after a grueling trial, he was exonerated.

His short film simply makes the point that the jihadists—who attacked on 9/11, at the Madrid train bombing, in London in 2005, etc.—did what they did because they were obeying what the Qu’ran tells them to do. That’s the essence of his film. Ideas have consequences. Tell the faithful followers of Allah that they should “slay the infidel wherever you find them” (Surah 9:29 from the Qu’ran), and 9/11 happens. That’s the point Wilders makes in his movie.

Of course, most Muslims, including Qu’ran-readers, do not engage in these Jihadist activities. Wilders admits as much. But those who do get their inspiration from the book.

I sat down in early 2009 and had a television interview with Geert Wilders about all the controversy. He had multiple bodyguards.

I asked him why he made the movie. He answered, “I fear the Islamization of our societies.” He also said, “Sure, there are moderate Muslims. We should try to invest in moderate people.”

This is a long-term fight over free speech. Pamela Geller, the event’s organizer, once told me in an interview: “One big problem that America really has to watch out for [is] where they’re imposing Sharia drip by drip, by shutting up people like myself and my colleagues, like Robert Spencer [publisher of jihadwatch.org], by defaming us because we speak…you know they call it ‘Islam-a-phobia.’”

She adds, “What it is, is jihad-phobia, and you should be afraid of the jihad frankly…But it’s part of this Islamic supremacist narrative…you cannot criticize Islam.” She said these things in 2011, some three years before the Garland incident.

Liberals used to at least pay lip service to the notion of free speech. Remember the ACLU? Lately, they seem to have found a religion they can finally get behind—radical Islam. My guess is that since both hate conservative Christianity so much, they have found common cause.

The ACLU used to argue that attacks on free speech rights are a slippery slope. If someone loses their right to free speech, we all lose it.

So in the late 1970s, they offended virtually everybody by going to court on behalf of the free speech rights of a group of neo-Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois, which at the time had some 7000 survivors of the Holocaust residing therein.

In this current battle, Pamela Geller, Geert Wilders, and Robert Spencer are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine. They are fighting the West’s battle for freedom. If they lose, so does freedom. As one pundit recently noted, if free speech protections do not protect unpopular speech—at the height of its unpopularity—then they aren’t really free speech protections.