Hitchens is both a serious anti-theist (a formerish socialist, “God Is Not Great“) as he charts a course out of his older Socialist ways, as well as challenging the mainstream American Left and further Left (supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m guessing as much as a result of residual anti-reliious, anti-‘fascist’ passion…socialists are always looking for fascists, funny that, and Islamism is a toxic brew of religious doctrine and oft Western ideology).
Here in America, we have freedom of speech. Some people will believe and say unwise, foolish and dangerous things as a result. Some, for example, will merely taunt religious and political leaders without substantive criticism, while others will use humor and reasoned discourse to level pointed and profound criticism against them (and anyone, who in their profession of ideas, would seek to implement those ideas). This freedom of speech (including the mockery and steady stream of anti-Christian imagery that has resulted) is a vital component of our political freedom.
In the above video, Younis is claiming that we put a limit to that freedom in order to achieve dialogue and “strategic discourse” with the Muslim world (I assume like Obama might believe this to help address the reasons our militiary has deployed in two questionable wars to root out a small but violent group of people, who, in the name of Islam, killed 3,000 Americans on American soil). As the argument goes: Our quarrel is not with Islam, but a small group of people acting in the name of Islam, who would represent a dead-end interpretation of their own religion and historical events. Al-Qaeda would like nothing more than a religious war, for that would validate their own ideology. We should tread lightly, and more intelligently and respectfully. As regards freedom of speech, citizens of Western countries who would act mockingly, disparagingly, or critically of the religious beliefs of Muslims must be held to a higher standard to prevent the kinds of conflict already taking place on this view.
Yet, as Hitchens points out, the elephant in the room is the fact that some Muslims and Muslim leaders actually kill, or threaten to kill, anyone who engages in such activity.
What are the limits of freedom of speech? Do you have an obligation to protect our troops? to stand up for cartoonists threatened with death? to recognize the loss of Iraqi life (addition: morally…diplomatically…in order to make better policy)?
Addition: An emailer suggests it is only on the back of extreme multiculturalism and diversity and on the European Left and the far American Left that such ideas get any traction. Muslims are a small minority in the U.S., and they have to earn, over generations of following the laws and demographic representation, a seat in our legislatures and in the public mind. As for now, the U.S. is pursuing its security interests through military force and diplomacy to protect itself against Al-Qaeda in the Muslim world…this is the problem to be either solved or gotten through and has political, diplomatic, military as well as cultural dimensions. Education…stronger economies…and more representative governments are developments the West would like to see, but as for my part I believe belongs to the will of Muslims.
Another Addition: A signed defense of free speech by American and Canadian Muslims
Also On This Site: Ebrahim Moosa At Bloggingheads Discusses Islamic Reform
Many libertarians stand firm on freedom of speech: Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant…From Reason: ‘Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks Headbutted During Lecture’……From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’…From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’…Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale Surrenders–Yale concluded that the risk of violence and the potential consequences that stemmed from their decision to publish a scholarly work about the Mohammed cartoons (reprinting those cartoons) was not worth the risk.
Hirsi Ali has her own agenda, and will use the political right in Europe to frame the debate (and she’s on a personal mission against Islam), but notice non-Muslims are not the ones threatening her with death: Tunku Varadarajan Reviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Nomad’ At The Daily Beast…Repost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote For Tolerance And Inclusion’
A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’