On October 13, the Miami Commission passed a resolution condemning hate speech against Muslims. The resolution doesn’t make hate speech illegal, but it’s a short step to that next point, and at the very least will rule you out of polite society. This is a bad move, not only as a matter of general principle, but because what is “hateful” is obviously subjective. Honest critical inquiry about Islam has been made difficult enough as it is. If Miami sets a trend, it’s going to made next to impossible.
What well-meaning leftists don’t understand is that for years Islamic advocacy groups (like CAIR, which has ties to terrorist groups like Hamas) have gone out of their way to portray any honest discussion of Islam as hateful — in other words, any examination of the way in which terrorists use Islam and its scriptures and traditions in order to justify jihad warfare and sharia law, and to make recruits among peaceful Muslims. Today, the mere attempt to investigate jihad and sharia ideology is considered hate speech.
When human rights activists like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and intelligent thinkers like Bill Maher are protested on college campuses, there is a huge problem liberals need to wake up to. When groups like CAIR can tell the movie industry what cannot be filmed, that should be a wake-up call. (One of many examples of CAIR censorship was the jihad plot in Tom Clancy’s The Sum of all Fears, which in the novel is about Muslim terrorists shooting down an Israeli jet; CAIR complained about this and lobbied to get the script changed, and Hollywood capitulated, changing the whole story to a completely ridiculous plot about Australian neo-Nazis instead of Islamic terrorists.) When you can be called a bigot for saying that Islam is more toxic than other religions, it shows that people don’t understand what bigotry is.
The oldest adage in medicine is that “you can’t fix something that’s falsely diagnosed”, and the oldest in warfare is “know your enemy”. If the example of the Miami Commission is followed, we’ll have a much harder time understanding Islam and formulating a realistic response to global jihad. We can’t keep parroting myths that jihad is born of western imperialism and poverty. When last year (in March 2015) The Atlantic published a long-overdue piece on Islamic ideology — the violence, intolerance, and expansionist ideas which are at the core Islamic doctrines, and rooted in the example of Muhammad — that was the first time since 9/11 that a mainstream magazine dared to speak the truth. And that article (by Graeme Wood) was considered hateful by many. (What did your Facebook feed look like on that day?)
Naturally, the Miami Commission’s resolution is bad for more general reasons. If you can’t speak your mind in any case — whether you’re actually being hateful, or being labelled as such for simply speaking honestly and critically — you live in a tyranny. If the government can silence you because it considers what you’re saying hateful, the game is over. Shame on the Miami Commission.