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Islam and Free Speech
by Jeremy Rabkin
Is freedom of speech in America threatened by the political mobilization of Islam? People who warn about threats to free speech usually like to shout about them—perhaps to show that they themselves won't submit to threats. I don't think America will face any shortage of people ready to shout about Islam or the Middle East or homeland security any time soon.
But there are certainly ominous trends stirring in the world. Not shadowy extremists but representatives of actual governments—nearly 60, in fact— have demanded that Western nations suppress speech that casts Islam in a bad light. UN human rights agencies have endorsed such demands. European nations have sought to accommodate them. The trend has not yet taken root in America. But our own courts have not always been firm protectors of free speech when restraints on speech are demanded to protect against "sexism" or "racism"—and official organs at the UN and the EU see "Islamophobia" as much the same thing. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court, cheered by a sizable contingent of American legal scholars, has held repeatedly in recent years that our own Constitution should be interpreted in the light of world trends in human rights. Anyone seen any hard-hitting Danish cartoons in the American press lately?
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