It would be unkind to compare Sheik Saud Al-Shuraim to Mr. Yves Leterme, so let's begin. One is working hard to extinguish free speech on the subject most important to him by moving our Constitutional fences. The other is employing freedom of speech to overstimulate a political debate. One is the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the other premier of the Flemish region of Belgium.
Mr. Leterme, reflecting on his nation's division between the Dutch-speaking people of Flanders and the two million French-speaking Belgians, said that the Belgian nation was an "accident of history" with "no intrinsic value." According to the Saturday Daily Telegraph, Leterme added that the Belgian nation amounted to nothing more than the "king, the national football team and certain brands of beer." Not wanting to be misunderstood in his disregard for the French-speaking Belgians living in Flanders, Leterme said they were "lacking the mental capacity to learn Dutch."
Anyone familiar with the least important member of the Axis of Cheese will tell you that French is easier to learn than Dutch, and that the Belgians are -- in the words of a retired Air Force officer who shall remain nameless -- "French wannabes. Can you imagine such a low form of life?"
That aside, Mr. Leterme -- perhaps overstating the insignificance of his nation -- was engaged in things we still enjoy, at least so far: freedom of speech, and political debate. What brings us to the imam is his sermon delivered last Friday. According to the Saudi-government sponsored daily, Arab News, Sheik al-Shuraim
urged the Muslim faithful to protect their identity without being subservient to foreign forces....He said that as long as Muslims remain weak, their resistance to defend their occupied territories, braving destructive weapons, would be labeled as terrorism...
"The allegation that Muslims are terrorists is a big lie," he said, adding that the enemy wanted to cover its obnoxious crimes by pasting such labels.
And he was not alone. According to the same report, Sheik Hussein Al-Sheikh, imam of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, "condemned the statements linking Islam with terrorism and fascism. He was referring to a recent statement made by US president George W. Bush who referred to Muslim extremists as 'Islamic fascists.'" That subject came up last Thursday in a debate I had with CAIR's Ibrahim Hooper on CNBC's Kudlow & Company. What's interesting is that Hooper -- like the imams -- is doing his level best to use the accusation of racism to preclude debate. (There's an excerpt from the transcript published in Larry Kudlow's blog.)
There were only two salient points in this debate. I said that the president's use of the term "Islamic fascists" was correct as history defines fascism. I also said that, given the facts of the terrorist attacks in this country and in the Middle East, and in the UK airline bomb plot the Brits broke up, it's not a violation of anyone's civil rights to include Muslim males between 17 and 45 years of age in a higher-risk group that would be screened more closely than others at airports. Hooper's only response was to call me a racist.
What's going on here is an open attempt to prevent free and open debate on an issue of national security. It is a concerted effort by CAIR and its ilk to prevent people such as we from discussing openly what even the terminally politically correct Brits are beginning to do and what the Israelis have been doing for decades: airline passenger profiling. The CAIRheads are throwing the charge of racism at people who are demonstrably not racist in order to intimidate them out of talking about profiling. Everyone who has an interest in the First Amendment should be outraged and responding by joining in this debate.
Islamic fascism is an entirely proper term to describe the Iranian regime, Syria's Assad, Hizballah, al Qaeda, and all the rest. Fascism, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is "a system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism." For all the talk about the peaceful Islamic "ummah," that definition fits, with precision, the terrorist nations and the terrorist organizations they fund, arm, and man. Those are facts, not racism. Racism is, as Churchill said, to be despised. He asked, "How can any man help how he is born?" Ah, though men cannot choose how they are born, they can choose how they behave toward others. And to say that it is a violation of civil rights to screen Muslim males more closely than others at airports is dead wrong, both logically and legally.
No one is ever going to mistake Hooper for Martin Luther King, Jr. or CAIR for the NAACP. And no one who knows a scintilla of Constitutional law will mistake increased screening of Muslim males at airports with racism. The case law -- for decades, beginning with Brown v. Board of Education -- prohibits "invidious" discrimination: it classifies people into different groups in which group members receive distinct and typically unequal treatments and rights without rational justification. It is not only rational but proven by more than a decade of terrorist attacks that increased screening of Muslim males at airports is necessary to the safety of other airline passengers. It has nothing to do with invidious discrimination and is not prohibited by our Constitution or the many Supreme Court cases that interpret it.
If Yves Leterme had said about Belgian Muslims what he said about the Francophones, his life would be in danger. To accuse those who advocate terrorist profiling of racism is an attempt to limit our freedoms of speech and the press. It is, in short, fascistic.
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) and, with Edward Timperlake, Showdown: Why China Wants War With the United States (Regnery, May 2006 -- click here to obtain a free chapter).