Last week on “Washington Watch,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins invited anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist and birther Frank Gaffney to discuss the so-called “no-go zones” in Europe, neighborhoods that anti-Muslim activists claim are run according to Sharia law and remain off-limits to police and governmental authority.
Perkins asked Gaffney if President Obama is aiding terrorists because he won’t blame terrorist attacks on Islam, prompting Gaffney to say that Obama is a Sharia law proponent who sounds just like Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the leaders of Boko Haram.
“When the president says at the United Nations, ‘The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,’ we could’ve found those words coming out of the mouths of Osama bin Laden, or Mullah Omar of the Taliban, or the leaders of Boko Haram or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of Islamic State,” Gaffney said. “This is the doctrine of Sharia and its blasphemy codes. So it not only gives people latitude to say, ‘The president is saying we mustn’t exercise our freedom of speech or maybe we should give it up altogether lest it offend these folks.’ It is also, and this is really in a way much worse, emboldening our enemies, who when they see this behavior, they think we’re submitting to them.”
Gaffney, of course, is leaving out the fact Obama’s 2012 UN speech was all about the importance of the freedom of speech and opposition to blasphemy laws:
Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. As President of our country and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day and I will always defend their right to do so.
Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views, even views that we profoundly disagree with. We do not do so because we support hateful speech, but because our founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities.
We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech — the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.
Gaffney also conveniently left out the sentence immediately following the president’s remark on “those who slander the prophet of Islam”: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.”