The "Special Duties and Responsibilities" of Freedom


I've written a fair amount on the tribulations of Dutch MP and virulent critic of Islam Geert Wilders, more than once warning that prosecuting him for "hate crimes" or preventing his entry into the United Kingdom only serves to boost his political capital at home. Yes, it was a rather obvious point—but who would have guessed, when Fitna first entered the news cycle in early 2008, that this would happen. From The Telegraph:

New opinion polling now puts Mr Wilders ahead of the Christian Democrats, who lead a coalition government.

"How happy I am about this. These are of course just polls, but it is an enormous sign of confidence from the Dutch voter," said Mr Wilders.

"As far as I am concerned, elections can be held tomorrow, then I will be the next premier".

Polling by Maurice de Hond has predicted that the Freedom Party or PVV would take 18 per cent of the vote to win 27 seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament.

In another Islam-and-free-speech story, Christopher Hitchens picks up on an alarming demand before the United Nations (nonbinding resolution 62/154) aimed at "combating defamation of religions." It has been largely overlooked by traditional media outlets, with the notable exception of this column from the Washington Times by Cato Institute senior fellow Nat Hentoff. Hitchens points to a passage in the resolution expressing "deep concern" that "Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism." How could such opinions ever have come to pass?

You see how the trick is pulled? In the same weeks that this resolution comes up for its annual renewal at the United Nations, its chief sponsor-government (Pakistan) makes an agreement with the local Taliban to close girls' schools in the Swat Valley region (a mere 100 miles or so from the capital in Islamabad) and subject the inhabitants to Sharia law. This capitulation comes in direct response to a campaign of horrific violence and intimidation, including public beheadings. Yet the religion of those who carry out this campaign is not to be mentioned, lest it "associate" the faith with human rights violations or terrorism. In Paragraph 6, an obvious attempt is being made to confuse ethnicity with confessional allegiance. Indeed this insinuation (incidentally dismissing the faith-based criminality of 9/11 as merely "tragic") is in fact essential to the entire scheme. If religion and race can be run together, then the condemnations that racism axiomatically attracts can be surreptitiously extended to religion, too. This is clumsy, but it works: The useless and meaningless term Islamophobia, now widely used as a bludgeon of moral blackmail, is testimony to its success.

The authors of this assault on secularism do, of course, call for legal prescriptions that would protect the hypersensitive practitioners of Islam. After the requisite (and predictably unconvincing) nod to upholding free speech rights, the resolution argues that "the exercise of these rights carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations as are provided for by law and are necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals and respect for religions and beliefs." 

Yesterday, I discussed the situation in Venezuela, Cuba, and the case of Wilders with Real Clear World blogger Fausta Wertz on her BlogTalkRadio show, which you can listen to here.

Update: Ron Bailey blogged the UN resolution in December when it was first introduced. Underreported story, yes, but Bailey beat Hitchens and Hentoff by three months.