Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One Courageous Newspaper

The main reason I have been a faithful subscriber to the National Post from its very inception is its courage to print what really needs to be said from time to time on issues like human rights and Islam. In this past week, two editorials have been printed that are particularly significant which I would urge you to read.

The first was yesterday's editorial by Jonathan Kay entitled The Company Muslims Keep in which he shares about a panel discussion he participated in at a recent event at Toronto's Noor Centre --a cultural organization for liberal Muslims -- on whether the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) is justified in bringing human rights complaints against Maclean's magazine for publishing Mark Steyn's cover article, The Future Belongs to Islam. He warns Muslims that they risk shooting themselves in the foot with the recent attempts to muzzle public criticism of Islam. He makes the point, "Even putting aside all the usual principled reasons for upholding free speech, there are several utterly practical, self-interested reasons why the people in this room should be wary about hitching their carts to the thought-police horse." He adds, "It is only a matter of time before human rights censors come after Muslims. Like the Bible, Muslim scripture contains a lot of material that, by modern standards, would be considered sexist, homophobic or even anti-Semitic. One statement attributed to Muhammad, for instance, declares that ‘Judgment day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims will kill the Jews, and then the Jews will hide behind stones or trees, and the stone or the tree will say: "Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him." Is this the sort of thing that human rights mandarins will someday judge as "likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt" -- to quote the applicable language from the Canadian Human Rights Act (HRA)? The prospect of a human rights tribunal telling you which Suras and Hadiths you are and aren't allowed to preach in your mosques may sound ridiculous. But it's not." And then he refers to the case of Stephen Boissoin being muzzled by a human rights tribunal because of his conservative views on homosexuality.

He also notes that Canadian Muslims risk turning the media against them by seeking to censor them through the human rights commissions. "The surest way to enrage them is to slip a gag over their mouths, which is exactly what the CIC has tried to do -- purportedly in the name of all Canadian Muslims, no less. In the long run, is that going to improve the way that Muslim issues are covered by this same pissed off media?"

The second editorial I would like to draw to your attention was printed today by Barbara Kay entitled Paving the way for 'soft jihad' in which she points out the various ways in which Muslims are seeking to limit free speech in the West through real or threatened litigation against those who criticize Islam or who offend their Islamic sensibilities. She concludes by saying:

"One way or another we must stop the (human rights commissions' issued) fatwa industry in its tracks. Begin with removal of speech-regulation from the HRCs' legal mandate. Build on that with legislation that imposes costs and damages on litigious third parties who seek to chill journalists.

Canada should also pass legislation imitative of the U. S. Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) law, presently active in 24 U. S. states, which disallows harassment of those writing on matters of "public concern," as well as the Libel Terrorism Protection Act, a New York state initiative that will combat libel tourism.

The HRC crisis is not a tempest in a teapot. Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center, says: "I don't think it's too strong to say that the [HRC] complaint against Mark Steyn is a totalitarian document."

It is therefore no exaggeration to say that Levant and Steyn are fighting for the defining ideal of Western civilization which, once lost, would spell the beginning of the end of all our other freedoms."

I am not writing this to promote the National Post per se. But we evangelicals have a tendency to distrust and bash the media. Let us at least admit that there is one paper in this country that gets it right some of the time.

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