Friday, May 16, 2014

Radical Islam and the War on Freedom

How did it happen?

How did American intellectual life fall prey to the radical actions of ideological extremists? How did the marketplace of ideas become monopolized by those who refuse any deviation from their dogmas?

Many of us have long fought against this tendency, to little avail. Recently, the liberal Kirsten Powers addressed with dismay the encroaching illiberality of American intellectual life.

Powers is horrified at what she sees:

Welcome to the Dark Ages, Part II. We have slipped into an age of un-enlightenment where you fall in line behind the mob or face the consequences.

How ironic that the persecutors this time around are the so-called intellectuals. They claim to be liberal while behaving as anything but. The touchstone of liberalism is tolerance of differing ideas. Yet this mob exists to enforce conformity of thought and to delegitimize any dissent from its sanctioned worldview. Intolerance is its calling card.

She continues:

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, this trend is growing. In the 21 years leading up to 2009, there were 21 incidents of an invited guest not speaking because of protests. Yet, in the past five-and-a-half years, there have been 39 cancellations.

Powers is too kind to say it, but the past five-and-a-half years has a name: It’s the Age of Obama.

Do you think that electing a president whose attorney general turns a blind eye on the IRS’s efforts to silence Tea Party conservatives has any effect on the cultural atmosphere? Do you think that media disregard of the threat to free expression sends a message? Do you believe that the president’s arrogant calling out the Supreme Court for its Citizens United decision helps fosters respect for free and open discussion?

Beyond all that, there is the Islamist war on freedom.  Obviously, it is far worse in many other parts of the world, but it has surely established a foothold in America.

Way back in the Bush administration, America was fighting radical Islamist terrorism. At times it did well. At times, it did not do so well. By now, the media has declared the effort to be a calamitous error. America responded by electing a president who pledged to end the war on terror. In fact, the Obama administration consistently self-censors when it comes to Islamic terrorism. The new American policy is to placate and appease the forces of worldwide terror... all the while silencing oneself.

Normally, our constitution protects offensive and even blasphemous speech. In many ways, that’s the point of the first amendment.

And yet, when everyone has been convinced that the least harsh word spoken about Islam will produce riots, murder and mayhem… we have found a way to justify censoring speech.

After all, if Ambassador Stevens was killed because of a video, we believe that we are within our rights to censor artistic expression and to jail the man who made the offending video. As you know, when it happened, the mainstream media said nothing.

Once certain kinds of speech are classified as deadly weapons, it is easier to police speech direct at other groups.

True enough, American leftists have long since asserted a right not to be offended. And yet, radical Islam has set down new predicates, and have convinced us that a sufficiently imminent threat is a good reason to shut down speech.

It’s not about reason. It’s about being terrorized.

How else to understand that while Americans are purging their minds of the least hint of Islamophobia they making common cause with people who are anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynist.

As I have mentioned in the past, those who wish to appease radical Islam by fighting against Islamophobia do not even know what the term means. It does not mean hatred of Islam; it means fear of Islam. People who being driven by their fear of the threat of Islamists are properly called Islamophobics.

So much have they been influenced by their Islamophobia that they believe it’s fine to hate Christians and Jews, but abhorrent to express the least negative sentiment about Islam.

As Powers explains, the contradiction is manifest:

While criticizing Islam is intolerant, insulting Christianity is sport. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is persona non grata at Brandeis University for attacking the prophet Mohammed. But Richard Dawkins describes the Old Testament God as "a misogynistic … sadomasochistic … malevolent bully" and the mob yawns. Bill Maher calls the same God a "psychotic mass murderer" and there are no boycott demands of the high-profile liberals who traffic his HBO show.


Anonymous said...

"How did American intellectual life fall prey to the radical actions of ideological extremists?"

The simple answer is that academia in the 20th century was fascinated with Marxism, and in the 21st they've gone hard Left en masse, giving up any pretense of liberality.

I know many think the Marxist moniker is simplistic (especially in the "sophisticated" era of Obama), but consider that Marxism is a materialist economic critique centered on one element: class struggle.

If you examine the academic wailing about this aggrieved group or victim class versus another, you will always find the academic Left comes down on the side of the underdog -- in purely materialist, class power terms. This is the case with the Islamists as well. They live in caves in Afghanistan, don't have air conditioning, and have insufficient public education. They are thus worthy of sympathy as they take on the evil, white European males who dominate the world. This maxim is true in most ever instance... it is completely and totally predictable.

And the truth is you don't need a PhD to think this way. That's the ruse that groupthink always relies on: barriers to entry. Academia continues to collect malcontents who are licensed to have lifelong, tenured professorships with PhDs or secure administrative jobs because they are part of a protected group. This feeds the "underdog complex."


Dennis said...

Today it would be some what of an oxymoron to talk about American intellectual life as it exits on most university or college. Increasingly, the lack of intellectual capacity and capability is left wanting largely because an idea, speech or person who might question the accepted line in these institutions is banned.
There comes a time for many of us when we ask ourselves why do we believe the way we do and what is the intellectual underpinning of those ideas. This assumes that one went to a college or university where ideas were freely discussed and debated.
One has to feel pity for many who matriculate now because they are not challenged to question their ideas and pushed to find the how, where, what and why of their ideas. Question: If you are going to vote for Hillary Clinton why? Most of the answers are that she is a woman and it would be historic. When asked to name the accomplishments of Hillary Clinton they were all at a loss to name any.
Sadly, it is this lack of ability to know why that defines much of what graduates from these "educational institutions." These institutions had moved so far left that years ago they had to shift the definition of liberal, progressive, conservative, et al to the right in order to make themselves main stream. Incidentally that is when I found I was now a neoconservative even though I was still a classical liberal at the time.
One of the ideas that make an intellectual life worth attaining is the ability to compete in the marketplace of ideas and present a well reasoned argumentation for those ideas. When one forces ideas underground by trying to stifle the free interchange and discussion one has forgotten why we have free speech.
An idea not challenged or driven underground gains credibility just by the fact that no one is there to refute it. The insertion of intellectual blinders only serves to hobble the development of people who graduate from these institutions. It is one of the most damaging things a university or college can do to their graduates. The closing of the American mind is advancing quite well with the aid and comfort of the very institution that should be fostering discovery and intellectual underpinning to become real leaders who are capable of and be competent at the tasks that life puts before them instead of being an incompetent ideologue like Obama and much of what populates the administration. The inability to think outside a narrow line of reasoning to seek real solution that benefit all. A true example of the closing of the American mind at the highest levels of government. Every thing would NOT be about politics if the intellectual capacity existed to work with others to solve the issues before us as a nation.

Dennis said...

Something everyone should take to heart:

"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself." — Thomas Paine

"You can protect your liberties in this world only by protecting the other man's freedom. You can be free only if I am free." — Clarence Darrow