In Initially Airbrushing Orlando Jihadist’s Calls, DOJ Followed Obama-Clinton U.N. Resolution against Negative Speech about Islam
by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY
Before reversing itself this afternoon amid rebukes from commentators and Republican leaders, the Obama Justice Department undertook to bleach the Islam out of Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen’s statements about his Islamist mass-murder attack — specifically, his pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State terror network and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the effect of which was to claim an Islamic doctrinal justification for the killing of 49 people, and the wounding of 53 others.
Even the White House appeared to be distancing itself from Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s original decision to release an edited version of one of Mateen’s 911 calls to the public. Obama, after all, had earlier conceded Mateen’s pledge of allegiance. Still, the Justice Department’s action was predictable. The purging of the transcript was a straightforward application of the Obama administration’s counter-constitutional U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, which purports to mandate the suppression of speech that could cast Islam in a bad light — regardless of whether the speech is accurate or the negative impression it creates is justified. Lynch had said the Justice Department would edit out Mateen’s effort to fit his atrocity in the Islamic State framework. This purge was rationalized by the attorney general as a refusal to abet the spread of Mateen’s propaganda. In fact, it was a promotion of the administration’s own propaganda — much like the whitewashing of references to Islam in instructional materials used to train American law-enforcement, military, intelligence agents. From his first days in office, President Obama has forged a collaborative relationship with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The OIC is the largest United Nations bloc. It includes 56 nations with significant Muslim populations plus the Palestinian Authority (which these Muslim nations regard as a fellow sovereign). Throughout her four years as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was Obama’s point-person in the administration’s collusion with the OIC. Among the most significant “achievements” of this partnership — and, from a constitutional perspective, the most appalling one — has been the adoption of Resolution 16/18. In blatant violation of the First Amendment, this provision calls on Western governments to outlaw any speech that “constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence” toward religion, on the rationale that such speech could provoke “religious hatred.” The resolution, if honored, is a drastic violation of First Amendment free-speech principles, which protect speech that constitutes political debate and promotes the introduction of accurate information in discussions of public policy. These are cornerstones of a self-governing, properly functioning republic. Let’s put aside the fact that Islamic supremacism, a mainstream interpretation of Islam, is not really a religion in the strict sense, but rather a radical, totalitarian political ideology with a religious veneer. Even if we were talking purely about religion, the First Amendment does not permit the government to prohibit speech or expression that could potentially incite mere hostility. There are many beliefs that deserve to be condemned; the Constitution safeguards our right both to be hostile to them and to engage in speech that promotes such hostility. (Indeed, that is just the most obvious principle. Besides inciting hostility, the resolution purports to prohibit speech that incites violence and discrimination. There is no need for an international resolution to prohibit the incitement of violence; it is already against American federal and state laws. As for speech that could incite discrimination against religion, the First Amendment would not permit a prohibition. We outlaw certain categories actual discriminatory action against religious believers, but not the mere statement or thought that a religion should be discriminated against.) The joint Obama-OIC Resolution 16/18 effectively imposes sharia blasphemy standards on American law. As I’ve previously outlined, sharia proscribes not only expression that is arguably insulting to Islam (e.g., burning the Koran, or cartoons that poke fun at Islam’s prophet Mohammed); it further forbids any speech or expression, by anyone, that constitutes an unflattering portrayal or belittling of Islam; and Muslims are forbidden to renounce Islam (which is deemed to include dissenting speech that denies any Islamic principle that is supported by scholarly consensus). Yet speech critical of religion is unexceptional in a free, pluralistic society — it is the kind of provocative or even infuriating expression that those provoked or infuriated are expected to tolerate for the greater good of promoting a marketplace of ideas.
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