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Posted in: Free Speech

Published on Jan 22, 2010 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

On Trial for Telling the Truth: Free Speech vs Political Correctness


As we all know, the bravest man in Europe is on trial for telling the truth. This matter is obscene, and, according to Bruce Bawer, "surreal," in part because Holland prides itself on its tolerance and commitment to free speech. Ah, but the Dutch do not mean "truth speech" because in the picturesque land of tulips and windmills, not all of Orwell's pigs are equal. Truth is relative, subjective, ever-changing. Thus, if something is true but that truth offends the most reactionary Muslims — then it is not protected speech; in fact, it is criminalized.

How low can these Dutch dhimmis go?

I have been privileged to meet and hear Dutch Parliamentarian and possible future Prime Minister, Geert Wilders, speak in New York City. Together, with other invited guests of the Hudson Institute, we watched Wilders' short film, Fitna, which shows terrorist scenes of devastation around the world — we have all seen them on the nightly news. Fitna also has real mullahs reading aloud from the Qu'ran — reading passages that in all truth are contained there. The film, accompanied by a brilliant musical soundtrack, allows us to connect the dots. It does not preach so much as "show."

Nevertheless, just as Kurt Westergaard's "Danish Muhammed cartoons" were hardly offensive by Western standards — that did not stop a global jihad against them which continues to this very day. Yale University Press refused to publish the cartoons in a book they themselves commissioned about the cartoons. And Canadian author Howard Rotberg had to become a publisher himself in order to have his say despite Canada's political correctness where certain subjects are concerned.

And, "lawfare" (war by legal action) and the lawsuits do not stop coming. The same litigious Muslim-Canadian who sued Mark Steyn for telling the truth and for daring to venture his own witty opinion, (which opinion "offended" certain professional easy-to-offend Muslims), is now suing Ezra Levant. Kathy Shaidle has a good piece about this here. Shaidle quotes Levant himself about Khurrum Awan, the man who is suing him. And, by the way, Awan is a second-generation Canadian Muslim. Levant writes:

Awan is the shakedown artist who targeted Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine with three human rights complaints in 2008, for Steyn's political offence of criticizing radical Islam. Awan lost those suits, and his demand to censor Maclean's was rejected, but he still managed to waste a lot of Maclean's money – and even more taxpayers' money, too.

That's Awan's strategy: abuse our courts to bully his opponents. It's a shocking thing for a lawyer to admit to, but Awan isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. As he told an anti-Semitic meeting in British Columbia a while back, he was proud to have "cost Maclean's two million dollars in legal expenses and lost circulation." Awan's friend, the notorious anti-Semite Greg Felton, approvingly quotes Awan saying "we attained out strategic objective—to increase the cost of publishing anti-Islamic material."

By 2003/2004, I, and a handful of others, had already understood that free speech/truth speech were under siege in the West, and that the first row of attackers were precisely those Western intellectuals who prided themselves on their commitment to free speech but who behaved like totalitarian censors. No, they did not burn books; they simply refused to publish or review them. They "disappeared" certain authors by not interviewing them. Or, these cultural gatekeepers demonized the book, its author, and the ideas presented. They, the censors, labeled anything that ran afoul of the Party Line as a "fascist, racist, Islamophobic" work.

American professors became very careful and exceedingly quiet on campus when the subjects of Israel, American imperialism, or Islam were raised. Many Jewish students cared more about "not offending" the Muslim students than they cared about telling the truth about jihad, or about the war against the Jews.

Those who saw things as I did began publishing samizdat, American-style. The conservative media and the internet became the above-ground venues for our "underground" publishing ventures. I — a radical feminist, an American patriot, and a Zionist — really fell down Alice's rabbit hole; my mates in the bunker were conservatives with whom I both agreed and disagreed on the burning issues of the day. This was clear: We all knew we were in a war, we all feared the fifth column in our midst, and none of us had any intention of surrendering. The other issues were important, but not as important.

I hope that Wilders becomes Holland's next Prime Minister. The Dutch certainly don't deserve him — but Europe and the West need him. Hang in there, Geert — you speak for us all.

And as for the lawfarers: I think we should send them on their way. Taxation is one thing. But why allow ourselves to be fined for exercising our freedoms?


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