Loose Canons

What Are We Prepared to Do?

Blair as Churchill, Rumsfeld as Goldwater, and Bush as ever.

By 8.8.05

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Ah, for the good old days when multiculturalism meant always having to say you're sorry. Congresses, parliaments, and courts imposed one law after another that encouraged immigrants to refuse assimilation and made it impossible for the cultural melting pots to even get warm. Britain has come up against the fruits of multiculturalism -- a bunch of folks who want to kill us no matter how sincerely or often the Brits apologize -- and will use every means to resist the repeal of the multiculturalist absurdities that now prevent Britain from protecting its national security from imported menaces.

Friday's statement by Brit PM Tony Blair listed a dozen new measures -- some being taken immediately and some for which he will seek legislation -- to protect Britain from the Islamic radicals and terrorists among the unassimilated British Muslim population and among the radical Islamists who have abused the privilege of being allowed to stay in Britain. Blair's proposals are eminently reasonable. They range from new broader powers to deport those who spread hate (making it faster and easier to throw the radicals out, and prevent them from claiming political asylum) to laws permitting the closure of mosques that are used for fomenting extremism. Immediately, both the radical Islamists and the Brit left reacted with predictable outrage.

Proving the need for Blair's initiatives, an imported menace, one Mohammed Naseem ("chairman" of the Birmingham Central Mosque) took to the airwaves to compare Blair's commonsense proposals to Hitler's demonization of Jews. Some British Muslims reacted to Naseem's remarks by voicing strong disagreement. But even they, like the vast majority of Muslims in democratic nations, didn't speak with the strength of conviction and act to remove Naseem from his position of prominence in their community. They need not agree with Blair to do so: it is their responsibility to confront advocates of terrorism in their own community, and they shirk it. By failing to act as responsible citizens of their adopted nation, just as so much of the Muslim world fails to deal with its own radicals, the British Muslims are making Blair's arguments conclusive, the need for his proposals even more urgent.

The Brit left reacted as it always does, predicting that most of Blair's proposals wouldn't pass muster in the EUnuchs' Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. Blair's proposals will live or die in Parliament, not in Strasbourg. The Brits are prepared to act, and the EUnuchs may push themselves farther into irrelevance and decadence by attempting to interfere. The final measure of a nation's decadence, as Charles Krauthammer wrote a few weeks ago, is not in its art or literature but in its willingness to defend itself. Britain is not prepared to commit national suicide. Are we?

The question comes down to the immortal line spoken by Sean Connery's good cop, Malone, to Kevin Costner's naive Eliot Ness in The Untouchables: what are you prepared to do? In fact, what are we prepared to do? The President has been AWOL on the issue of expelling illegal immigrants and dealing with those who spread terrorist bile here, in Saudi-sponsored schools, and elsewhere. What are we, the society that suspends from school ten-year-old boys for making a gun sound over a pointed index finger and folded thumb, willing to do to protect ourselves?

ANY POLICY MUST HAVE a foundational idea, and such are not found in most places in our government. A very good premise is explained in Big Dog Don Rumsfeld's op-ed in the Financial Times of August 1. Mr. Rumsfeld's point was that those -- such as London Mayor Ken Livingstone -- who say we will put an end to the terrorists' attacks on us by accommodating their demands are as ignorant of the nature of the enemy as they are of history. Their memory gaps are so large that they can swallow the first attack on the World Trade Center, the 1996 Khobar Tower bombing, the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Scotland, the 1998 embassy bombings and the 2000 near-sinking of the USS Cole. Rumsfeld wrote, "The extremists do not seek a negotiated settlement with the west... the fantasies of al-Qaeda and its ilk to impose intolerance and indoctrination extend far beyond the Middle East." Rumsfeld's conclusion, stated in the title to the article, is that "there can be no moderate solutions to extremism."

Think about Rumsfeld's conclusion, cock an ear toward Arizona, and close your eyes: you'll hear an echo from 1964: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice and...moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." Thus the Rumsfeld corollary to the Goldwater principle: moderation in the war against terrorism is no virtue, and tough measures in defense of liberty are no vice.

Interpreting the First Amendment, our courts have made more of a mess than their Brit and EUnuch counterparts have in their human rights mush. Free speech and freedom of religion are both enshrined in the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has gone to extremes to protect one and twist the other into a multicultural tangle that it leaves to itself to interpret ad hoc. In Brandenburg v. Ohio, the court said that the First Amendment guarantees "do not permit a state to forbid or prescribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action." But, as the Court has ruled in Thomas v. Collins, the First Amendment doesn't prevent restrictions of speech that have a "clear support in public danger."

Last week, while subbing for Hugh Hewitt on his radio show, I opened the phones to ideas on how we can both preserve our rights to free speech and protect ourselves from those, such as Naseem, who use the cover of their religion to advocate the terrorists' dogmas. We made little progress because people really haven't thought enough about how we can do that. We need to have that debate now and reduce its conclusions to legislative action.

In its 2002 decision in Stewart v. McCoy, the Supreme Court said, "Long-range planning of criminal enterprises -- which may include oral advice, training exercises, and perhaps the preparation of written materials -- involves speech that should not be glibly characterized as mere 'advocacy' and certainly may create significant public danger. Our cases have not yet considered whether, and if so to what extent, the First Amendment protects such instructional speech." With those words, the court invited Congressional action that has been too long delayed.

Where do we draw the line with sufficient clarity to pass constitutional muster? Where does freedom of speech and religion end, and where does advocacy of terrorist acts begin? Religious speech, some will argue, is doubly protected under the First Amendment. But does preaching the dogmas of terrorism anywhere -- on the web, on television, or in a place of worship -- qualify as protected speech? Under Stewart, it should not. It should be classified as "instructional speech" that "creates a public danger." Do you agree? Good. Do you disagree? Fine. But do you remain silent, and let this urgent question go undecided? If so, for shame. And that goes for you, too, senator, and even you, Mr. President.

TAS contributing editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery, 2004).

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.