Free speech only for some?

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Paul Krugman’s out­rage is se­lec­tive and aimed, as usual, at con­ser­va­tives. I was sur­prised to see the New York Times colum­nist take a swipe at me and the pa­per that has long been my home. Since Frank Rich, an­other New York Times colum­nist, and nu­mer­ous blog­gers have all writ­ten es­sen­tially the same thing as Mr. Krugman, it is ob­vi­ous that a new line of at­tack against con­ser­va­tives is emerg­ing. It needs to be stopped in its tracks.

In a col­umn called “The Big Hate,” Mr. Krugman seized upon two un­re­lated shoot­ings in dif­fer­ent cities — of a Kansas abor­tion­ist and a U.S. Holo­caust Memo­rial Mu­seum guard in Wash­ing­ton — to con­tend out­ra­geously that dis­af­fected con­ser­va­tives and Iraq war vet­er­ans may pose a pub­lic threat.

Mr. Krugman faulted the lead­ing lights of the con­ser­va­tive me­dia for fos­ter­ing a cli­mate of alien­ation and anger. He cas­ti­gated Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck, charg­ing them with “main­stream­ing right-wing ex­trem­ism.” Talk ra­dio’s Rush Lim­baugh “ped­dles con­spir­acy the­o­ries” on Planet Krugman.

To this list of al­leged ex­trem­ist-en­ablers, Mr. Krugman added The Wash­ing­ton Times, not­ing that it “saw fit to run an opin­ion piece declar­ing that Pres­i­dent Obama not only iden­ti­fies with Mus­lims, but ac­tu­ally may still be one him­self and that in any case he has ‘aligned him­self’ with the rad­i­cal Mus­lim Brother­hood.” The un­named au­thor was yours truly.

Let me be clear. The na­ture and re­li­gious con­text of Mr. Obama’s re­la­tion­ship with his Cre­ator is, as far as I am con­cerned, the man’s own busi­ness. Re­li­gious tests for hold­ing pub­lic of­fice in this coun­try went out around the time of the Salem witch tri­als, and I don’t want them to come back.

Mr. Obama’s poli­cies, how­ever, are fair game for crit­i­cism. If the pres­i­dent sin­gles out for spe­cial treat­ment any faith or seeks, whether wit­tingly or not, to ad­vance the agenda of its most in­tol­er­ant prac­ti­tion­ers, that is de­cid­edly our busi­ness.

In­deed, one would think Mr. Krugman and his friends would be the first to de­fend the rights of such crit­ics. Af­ter all, Mr. Krugman’s co­hort on the left and its me­dia echo cham­ber end­lessly as­sailed Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s poli­cies. They also rou­tinely en­gaged in the most ag­gres­sive and in­flam­ma­tory per­sonal at­tacks on the pres­i­dent and his sub­or­di­nates. Re­mem­ber “Bush lied; peo­ple died”? Charg­ing a chief ex­ec­u­tive with de­lib­er­ately pre­var­i­cat­ing and, con­se­quently, with re­spon­si­bil­ity for the deaths of un­told num­bers of in­no­cents surely would qual­ify as the main­stream­ing of left­wing ex­trem­ist views.

Where, for that mat­ter, is Mr. Krugman’s out­rage about the fact that MSNBC has made a cot­tage in­dus­try of hir­ing vir­u­lent Bush-haters and pro­mot­ing their con­spir­acy the­o­ries about Mr. Bush’s im­pe­rial and un­con­sti­tu­tional am­bi­tions? How about the pre­vail­ing Hol­ly­wood meme that our 43rd pres­i­dent was a fas­cist guilty of war crimes — in com­par­i­son with which ac­tor Jon Voight’s con­tention that Mr. Obama is a “false prophet,” which mer­ited a Krugman de­nun­ci­a­tion, is pretty tame stuff. Did Mr. Krugman ever ob­ject to the “opin­ion pieces” of his New York Times col­league Mau­reen Dowd, whose se­rial char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tions of se­nior U.S. offi- cials would, by any ob­jec­tive mea­sure, be ex­am­ples of, in his words, “the me­dia es­tab­lish­ment join­ing hands with the lu­natic fringe”?

In ad­di­tion to se­lec­tive out­rage, Mr. Krugman is given to se­lec­tive quo­ta­tion. He ig­nores the ev­i­dence I cite show­ing an un­canny sim­i­lar­ity be­tween some of the lan­guage and poli­cies of the pres­i­dent and of Mus­lim Brother­hood.

In my col­umn, I iden­ti­fied a num­ber of in­stances in which Mr. Obama’s poli­cies track with this agenda. Th­ese in­clude his prom­ise in his Cairo speech to “fight against neg­a­tive stereotypes of Is­lam wher­ever they ap­pear”; to en­sure that Mus­lim women in Amer­ica can cover their heads, in­clud­ing, pre­sum­ably, when they are hav­ing their pho­to­graphs taken for driver’s li­censes; and to per­mit the Mus­lim prac­tice of tithing known as zakat, even though Is­lamic “char­i­ties” have been con­victed of us­ing this prac­tice as a cover for money-laun­der­ing and ma­te­rial sup­port for ter­ror­ism.

Is­lamists are thrilled by the pres­i­dent’s “tough love” cam­paign against Is­rael. They have ev­ery rea­son to be­lieve the con- ces­sions now be­ing de­manded of the Jewish state will no more re­quire Arab rec­i­proc­ity in the fu­ture than has been the case in the past.

One could add to this wor­ry­ing list At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder Jr.’s an­nounce­ment fol­low­ing the pres­i­dent’s Cairo speech. Mr. Holder promised “a re­turn to ro­bust civil rights en­force­ment and out­reach in de­fend­ing re­li­gious free­doms,” with a view to “us­ing crim­i­nal and civil rights laws to pro­tect Mus­lim Amer­i­cans.” Rad­i­cal Mus­lims have proved adept at us­ing such rights to thwart le­git­i­mate sur­veil­lance and other coun­ter­mea­sures by law en­force­ment.

It is not ex­trem­ism to ob­serve that th­ese Obama ini­tia­tives could have very far-reach­ing and neg­a­tive im­pli­ca­tions for the United States, its so­ci­ety and se­cu­rity. It is ex­trem­ism to hold that all crit­ics of the pres­i­dent should be shunned into si­lence.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter for Se­cu­rity Pol­icy and the host of the syndicated pro­gram “Se­cure Free­dom Ra­dio” heard in Wash­ing­ton week­nights on WTNT.

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