Jewish World Review April 13, 2011 / 9 Nissan, 5771
Free Speech and Burning Korans
By Jonah Goldberg
"Since American liberals don't have the guts to say it, allow me: The Rev.
So writes my friend and conservative radio host
Graham is referring to Jones, the pastor of a tiny fringe church in
Various politicians, led by Sen.
Sure, wartime censorship is an American pastime. During World War I, under President
Even if the senator's arguments are a hot mess, he has a point. We're in a different kind of war fought in an age in which news travels the world, uncensored and often distorted, with the speed of a mouse click. And in that context, there's simply no way to spin Jones' idiotic stunt as anything other than morally ugly and tactically unhelpful.
If, as we are so often told, the Muslim world is enduring a civil war between the crazies and the moderates, what good comes from Koran-burning? It offends "good" and "bad" Muslims alike. Moderate Muslims who seek to yank their societies out of the Dark Ages surely winced at Jones' stunt, and jihadists undoubtedly celebrated their propaganda windfall.
The fame-hungry pastor prattles about how torching the Koran is an act of resistance to the "Islamification" of America. Come on. Yes, the left has an infuriating double standard by which devout Muslims are delicate flowers who must be defended from American "Islamophobia" and wildly overhyped "anti-Muslim backlash," while far less illiberal and bigoted (by liberal standards) devout American Christians are to be feared, mocked and opposed. But that's a product of the internal inanities of multiculturalism and political correctness, not the creeping Islamification of America.
But he and others also say there's nothing wrong with burning the Koran. This represents an astonishing evolution in the right's attitude toward free speech that has been unfolding for the last decade or so. Traditionally, the conservative argument about free expression went like this: "Yes, you have the right to say (or do) X, but that doesn't mean you should say it, and it doesn't mean I can't criticize it."
Burning the Bible, "The Adventures of
That said, conservatives have been admirably consistent in their new free-speech absolutism. In 2007,
The analysis is still correct. But that doesn't mean there's "nothing wrong" with indefensible speech -- on the left or the right.
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