If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all. (Noam Chomsky)
In defence of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, the Danish Cartoons and the recent YouTube movie, the liberals argued that Muslims should not get too upset over the offensive contents, because this was about the ‘sacred’ free speech or freedom of expression; the right to express a certain viewpoint, no matter how offensive or accurate. The problem is this is not applied consistently across the board. Why it is free speech to mock religious values, and yet a similar tone of language is not tolerated against a particular racial group or a group with a certain sexual orientation?
The usual suspects lecturing about free speech are not the ones on the receiving end, and when the tables are turned, free speech conveniently transforms into incitement to violence or threats to national security. The persecution of Julian Assange is a classic example of America behaving with such duplicity.
It is a travesty of justice to expect the voiceless victims to tolerate the inflammatory material produced without provocation, and instead of accounting the perpetrators they are shielded. The liberal brigades respond by citing the usual phrase: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. The stark reality is words do hurt, in fact much more than sticks, as the pain from words can linger on, unlike the temporary physical pain experienced from the stick. Therefore, there are libel laws, censorship, and numerous legislations in place to prevent inflammatory material being published. In our private lives, we are cautious and selective in our words and expressions, so as not to hurt our loved ones.
At present, free speech is primarily defined by Islamophobia and one of its limits is to protect the Zionist narrative. In another words, free speech has licensed Islamophobia, but not anti-Zionism. One of the most eminent British Historian, David Irving, has been convicted for denying the Holocaust back in 1989, and faced a 10-year prison sentence under Austrian law. How does this conviction compare with the freedom of expression given to the Danish and other European newspapers, to openly injure the feelings of billions of Muslims? You can see questioning the Holocaust instantly generates a critical response; those lecturing the Muslims to tolerate offensive materials are now intolerant of a view questioning the magnitude of the Holocaust. The far right are inciting hatred and violence against the Muslims, using the free speech licence.
If freedom of expression can be used by racist hooligans, then surely academics like David Irving at least deserves an equal opportunity. He did not resort to using offensive language or incite violence against a particular group of people. He may have differed with the popular or official version of the Holocaust, but he has never called for the targeting of the Jews, or has been known to make disparaging comments about them. His work was based on academic research. A genuine expression of a viewpoint; therefore, it should have easily passed the free speech test. Other Historians are free to come forward and prove him to be wrong, and that would have made the case for the other camp even stronger.
One can see the merit in questioning the magnitude of the Holocaust, because it is very likely to have been exaggerated by the victorious Allied forces, as part of the post-war propaganda. However, we are in 2012, why is it beyond the limits of free speech to question the magnitude of the Holocaust, as if it is something sacred? It implies the Zionists have a strong influence in determining the boundaries of free speech; hence, topics like the Holocaust or legitimacy of Israel have almost become a taboo. The West cannot even tolerate constructive criticisms of the Holocaust based on research and study, and yet expects the Muslims to tolerate crude insults under the banner of free speech!
It is no secret that Zionists have sponsored individuals and groups to promote offensive Islamophobic materials. Many of the far right openly fly the Israeli flag in their drunken rallies. The connection between Zionist and Islamophobia is decisive and substantial. Therefore, apart from the Zionist inspired Islamophobia, the test for free-speech is also determined by compliance to their narrative and for this reason David Irving was penalised for it, as if he was a heretic being tried by court set in medieval Europe. The Zionist grip over the media has led to a climate of fear, as one faces the prospect of being subjected to an anti-Semitic inquisition, which start with demonization and can led to loss of employment. Now, observe the cowardly liberal brigades, they are no longer waging their holy war for free speech, not enough courage to challenge the mighty Zionist lobby to have an open debate on the issues; it is far easier to take on the defenceless and voiceless Muslims!
Yamin Zakaria (email@example.com)
Published in February 2012