A coalition of conservative legal groups will host a “Libel Lawfare: Silencing Criticism of Radical Islam,” a conference on how “Islamist lawfare” is imperiling free speech in America. Confirmed speakers include neoconservative foreign policy guru Frank Gaffney, lawyer Andrew C. McCarthy (who turned down an invitation to a White House counterterrorism conference to protest administration policy), Islam critic David Pipes, and… Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), who will give the opening speech.
Not to mention Big Al Dershowitz, king of Islamophobes, who’ll be there in all his glory. What in God’s name is Specter, a newly minted Democrat, doing in such wingnutty company? In case you doubt that adjective, here is the conference agenda:
Islamists have launched a two-pronged effort to suppress free discourse on such subjects as Islam, radical Islam, terrorism, and terrorist funding:
* By filing predatory lawsuits.
* By passing “hate speech” and defamation laws.
Victims of these “lawfare” attacks have included the famous and the obscure, politicians, journalists, analysts and plain citizens.
This inhibition has great consequences, for when discussion of Islam and terrorism are limited, radical Islam is empowered and Western civilization is imperiled.
Issues to be discussed…include: A close analysis of Islamist methods; the possible need for legislation to protect free speech on these topics; a comparison of the situation in Europe and the United States; and ways to prevent the United Nations from curtailing discussion of Islam.
There are many remarkable notions in this bill of attainder. First, the notion of a vast Muslim-wing conspiracy to destroy the Jewish neocon right. Second, a massive operation to impose Islamic will on the west. Third, a campaign to destroy constitutional rights. Among Pipes’ stranger, more paranoiac notions is the existence of a shadowy campaign to impose Sharia law on U.S. society.
What I find ironic in all this is the hypocritical approach to the notion of what they call “lawfare.” First, the fact that Pipesians themselves use intimidation, lawsuits, and smear campaigns against their Jewish and Muslim opponents in precisely the same way they claim Muslims do against them.
Just as an example, two members of the Stop the Madrasa campaign which led to the firing of the New York City public school principal because she was an outspoken Muslim, filed suit against her for allegedly defaming them. Rachel Neuwirth, another Pipesian, has also filed suit against me for libel for calling her a “Kahanist swine” here in this blog. I could go on and on with other examples, but you get the message. Apparently, free speech and other constitutional rights only extend to people who agree with the Islamophobes. Others need not apply.
Below, you’ll find a perfect distillation of the Pipes’ and the Islamophobic right’s bogus methods of political analysis:
[Gaffney’s] Center for Security Policy [published], The Rise of the Iran Lobby, which claimed that “a complex network of individuals and organizations with ties to the clerical regime in Tehran is pressing forward in seeming synchrony to influence the new U.S. administration’s policy towards the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Among those listed as part of the “network” were Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, Ambassador Dennis Ross, Council on Foreign Relations Committee president Richard Haas, and the Center for a New American Security, simply by virtue of the fact that “the foreign policy positions of [CNAS’s] affiliates correspond strongly to the preferred policy positions of Tehran’s mullahs.”
Ellison, Ross and others are “tied” to the Iran lobby and the regime not because of any actual evidence, but because their views allegedly “correspond strongly” to the alleged views of the mullahs. No proof provided. All smear, all the time.
In addition, this tactic of turning your opponents legitimate claims back against them is tried and true psy ops strategy. For those of us who embrace the notion that the Israel lobby exerts a noxious influence on U.S. policy, Gaffney has just attempted to turn the tables. Unlike our analysis of the Israel lobby, he has absolutely no evidence that there is any such thing as an “Iran lobby.” No organizations, no personnel, no secret meetings of the cabal. This is a “wing and a prayer” tactic meant to throw the other side on the defensive.
I would also note that I’ve reported that the Israeli embassy has been closely monitoring the schedule, views and activities of Rep. Ellison and others, as potential opponents of Israel’s interests. So what better way for the Pipesians to deflect this unsavory news than claim that Ellison is a card-carrying member of the Iran lobby?
I hope that Pennsylvanians and Pennsylvania bloggers will pick up on Specter’s involvement with this execrable anti-Muslim project and warn him away from making such a political blunder. Arlen, you’ve made common cause with a bunch of Jewish loonies. Someone should stop you before you hurt yourself. I know you’re a tired old geezer who’s lost his way politically and otherwise, but that’s no excuse. And man, do the Democrats have some soul-searching to do about embracing this exemplar of self-righteousness, self-interest, and self-absorption.
One name I half expected to see on the speaker list (and am disappointed not to see) is Jewish fascist David Yerushalmi, who also played a leading role in Stop the Madrasa and has championed the idea of establishing concentration camps on U.S. soil for American-Muslim undesirables (among other things). And where’s Joe Lieberman? He and Specter are practically Islamophobic blood brothers.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.