Jewish World Review Nov. 3, 2012/ 18 Tishrei, 5773
A word for freedom/ The president heard from at last
By Paul Greenberg
They set a table for the president of
What a refreshing change from the quivering silence, followed by fulsome apologias, with which
"Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views -- even views that we disagree with." Freedom of speech, he pointed out, is inseparable from freedom of religion, for "efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics or oppress minorities. ... Given the power of faith in our lives and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech."
This time, it was the president's defense of American freedoms that captured the headlines, and should have. That was the part of his speech that was new -- and news. Good news, welcome news. This president can listen to his critics after all, and even change course.
It was particularly refreshing to hear
This administration has tried to tell churches what teachers they must hire or fire in their religious schools, and force Catholic schools, hospitals and universities to subsidize practices that go against the church's beliefs -- like contraception, sterilization and abortion. That struggle between a church and a state seeking to intrude on its beliefs continues even as the president utters fine words about freedom of religion.
But at least he said the right words in this occasion. Which is more than one can say for a law professor at the
"We shouldn't allow speech that's designed to do nothing but hurt," the professor said the other day. So why not just call it thoughtcrime and squelch it?
Do you think the professor has reviewed the First Amendment lately? It is quite explicit. It says
Ah, well, there is some consolation: At least the professor is teaching law, not logic or reading.
In another bulletin from the frontiers of civilization, in this case
That is not how Americans should treat foreign diplomats, or any guest of our country. It is the kind of behavior that can safely be left to foreign mobs. But it seems Americans, too, aren't free from mob passions, as anybody who made it through the bad old Faubusian days in the South can testify.
Let this much be said in defense, well, in mitigation of
The ultimate defense of American freedoms, like freedom of speech, lies not in laws and constitutions, but in something within a free people: self-control. Without it, all the grand speeches in the world won't much matter. Learned Hand said it: "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it."
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
if (strpos(, "printer_friendly") === 0)
=<< © 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
© 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.