Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Obama Administration Supports Blasphemy Laws

There is a movement throughout the world that is primarily being pushed by Muslim nations to criminalize any speech they deem as negatively stereotyping their religion and race. Unbelievably, the Obama administration is giving its support to a United Nations resolution to limit free speech in an apparent effort to kowtow to Muslims. Constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley expresses his concern over this outrageous development:

The Obama administration has shocked many in the civil liberties community with the tacit endorsement of limitations of free speech in the United Nations. We have been following the international trend to criminalize criticism of religions, including this prior column. The Administration has joined the UN Human Rights Council and has agreed to create a “new” standard balancing speech and respect for religion. These new standards are merely thinly disguised blasphemy laws that are spreading throughout the world, including the West.

The fear is that the Obama Administration will try to rehabilitate our image in the Muslim world by supporting this long effort to allow greater “consensus” on punishing criticism of religion as a form of hate speech . . .

Chargé d’Affaires Douglas Griffiths, announced:

“The United States is very pleased to present this joint project with Egypt. This initiative is a manifestation of the Obama administration’s commitment to multilateral engagement throughout the United Nations and of our genuine desire to seek and build cooperation based upon mutual interest and mutual respect in pursuit of our shared common principles of tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

Egypt has been one of the main proponents of an international blasphemy law.

There is no balancing needed. People should have the right to say anything about religions regardless of how offensive it may be to the majority of citizens or governments. The new resolution, however, stresses “the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities . . .” which include taking action against anything meeting the description of “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” The resolution would also insists that journalists “recognize . . . the moral and social responsibilities of the media” and supports “the media’s elaboration of voluntary codes of professional ethical conduct” in relation to “combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

For the leading democratic nation in the world to support such a principle of limiting free speech is an outrageous and dangerous development. It further shows the Administration’s willingness to trade principles for political gains. Congress needs to hold hearings and civil libertarians need to be heard on this new American initiative. There are various ways to appeal to Muslim nations without joining them in sacrificing free speech on the altar of religion.


patriot paul said...

Nice post. I'd like to see it amplified. Obama declares he is a Christian, despite being enrolled and brought up as Muslim. He has denied America is a Christian nation and has made ovatures to identify with Muslims when he is abroad. More to the point, the recent trendy movement to subjugate U.S.laws by Sharia influenced international law bodes a terrible evil, including the Sharia law of death by hanging for blasphemy. What is included in blasphemy: try satire and cartoon images with Islam in an unfavorable light, books, speech, and a theocratic big brother with neighbors telling on neighbors. Even the naughty word 'crusades' is equilivent to our 4 letter English swear words and worthy of death. In fairness, some countries simply legislate blasphemy instead of enforcing Sharia, but where is all this ingratiating going and why? The U.S. still has about 6 states that have blasphemy laws.
Obama sat thru years of Rev. Wright who said "G.D. America", so why so sensitive now? Something's afoot.

Chris said...

For a politically-astute blog, AI sometimes engages in some gross oversimplification to score cheap political points. (By the way, show me the statement where Obama says blasphemy laws are GOOD).

It's not ideal there are blasphemy laws anywhere, but as Patriot Paul noted, WE have such laws here. How hypocritical do you want us to be? But more importantly, let's think about why the U.S. might not want to be overly critical about such laws right now.

Where has the worst blasphemy-related violence occurred. Pakistan. Who is, in the opinion of damn near everybody in the intelligence and defense communities, the most critical ally in our fight against Al Qaeda? Pakistan.

Where is there a political fight between conservative elements trying to preserve blasphemy laws, and reform-minded politicians who want to amend them? Pakistan.

Where might it NOT be beneficial for the U.S. to be too outspoken in trying to dicate a result for fear that our very condemnation will turn the tide on this issue against reform? Pakistan.

This may sound crass, but I'm willing to let people get riled over blasphemy (there have been 27 blasphemy executions from 1985 to 2007) if it helps foil a plot to kill another 2,819 Americans in one fell swoop. By the way, this notion of a greater good must have been shared by your hero Ronald Reagan because he didn't do a damn thing to Pakistan when these laws were passed under a Pakistani general America hand-picked to lead. Why? Because we wanted their help with the Soviet Union.

Sometimes there's a larger good to be served and we eat another country's crap. Anybody look at China as a bastian of freedom? No? But we aren't bashing them, are we, AI? You know why? Because we're not stupid enough to piss off people who can call in their loans and destroy our entire economy.

Why you think we should piss off those who are critical to our war on terror for largely symbolic politics while we could subtly influence the debate (for example, by supporting such laws in exchange for not supporting excessive punishments) or offering meaningless faint praise is astonishing to me. But I'd stick to local politics.

Downtown Indy said...

Call it 'cheap political points' if you wish, but it's pretty clear this simply sets up the US for more bashing the next time someone over here exercises free speech and it ruffles some feathers in the Muslim world.

It clearly puts the American principle of Free Speech in a corner, where any American can now be called out for 'violating' this agreement.

It is incredibly stupid of the president to do such a thing. He has no right to make such an agreement declaring we have free speech except where some Muslim in another country thinks we shouldn't.

There's a REASON for a 'long running deadlock' - Obama's predecessors understood the resolution to be the written analogue of bowing to a King. Obama shows the world HE does not understand and once again insults every American by his actions.

UN rights body approves US-Egypt free speech text

"GENEVA -- The U.N. Human Rights Council approved a U.S.-backed resolution Friday deploring attacks on religions while insisting that freedom of expression remains a basic right.

The inaugural resolution sponsored by the U.S. since it joined the council in June broke a long-running deadlock between Western and Islamic countries in the wake of the publication of cartoons depicting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

The resolution has no effect in law but provides Muslim countries with moral ammunition the next time they feel central tenets of Islam are being ridiculed by Western politicians or media through "negative racial and religious stereotyping."

American diplomats say the measure - co-sponsored by Egypt - is part of the Obama administration's effort to reach out to Muslim countries."

Downtown Indy said...

But it appears that idiocy is running rampant these days, as a 75-year old memorial to war veterans is now in the hands of the supreme court.

It seems one annoyed person has made a stink about a cross on government land. One that I dare say has been standing and considered a place of honor and pride for veterans since well before the complainant was even born.

Mojave Cross

Downtown Indy said...

Mojave Cross

The link didn't appear in the previous post for some reason.

dcrutch said...

Foiling another plot to topple skyscrapers is intertwined with inflated costs in government benefits- we can't keep anybody out that wants in. When we treat our borders as seriously as Israel does, perhaps we make traction on both fronts. History says securing (forget Democratizing) the Middle East is up there with teaching cats to fetch sticks. Then there's that little matter of can we afford ANY foreign policy right now, or health care plan, or cap & trade, or...

Advance Indiana said...

Chris, There are a lot of laws on the books that are not enforced. I'm not aware of any state that is currently enforcing such a law, even if it may have one on the books. Don't even begin to compare our country to these Muslim countries that trample all over the rights of the individual and imprison people for owning a Bible or practicing Christianity in their countries. There is no good to be served by the Obama administration pushing these laws. Obama may not have personally spoken out in favor of these laws, but he did something that is far worse. He stood in a Muslim country and delivered a speech in which he apologized for our country. We owe no apologies to the sponsors of the terrorism that has been directed at Jews, Christians and Westerners by Muslims. We are the beacon for freedom around the world, and I'll be damned if he's going to tell the people of the world otherwise.