In the wake of yesterday’s horrific attack on French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an Islamic advocacy organization with somewhat extreme predilections, released a statement condemning the attack, while taking a few swipes at the victims:
We strongly condemn this brutal and cowardly attack and reiterate our repudiation of any such assault on freedom of speech, even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures. The proper response to such attacks on the freedoms we hold dear is not to vilify any faith, but instead to marginalize extremists of all backgrounds who seek to stifle freedom and to create or widen societal divisions.
It’s interesting to see CAIR condemn “any such assault on freedom of speech,” given its own activities doing just that.
Here, for example, is a letter the group posted on its website. It begins, “The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento acted wisely in canceling Robert Spencer’s speaking engagement on church property.” Hmm, they’re not calling for Spencer’s murder, but it sure seems that CAIR prefers to silence voices it dislikes rather than respect their right to free speech.
Here’s another press release from CAIR, which begins, “The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today thanked a prominent New York law firm for its decision to cancel an event featuring Robert Spencer….” Again, what a triumph for CAIR’s embrace of free speech. And these are not the only examples.
Now, I share with CAIR many differences with some of the speakers and other speakers I reserve judgment on because I have never heard of them. But, it sure seems that an organization which claims to defend free speech spends a major amount of time trying to limit it. And while some of CAIR’s targets are controversial and polemical, it seems a bit hypocritical for CAIR to hold itself up as a guardian of altruism against the forces of racism when the U.S. Justice Department has labeled CAIR a co-conspirator in a scheme to fund Hamas, a group whose charter openly seeks genocide.
When it comes to embracing free speech and understanding the importance of the marketplace of ideas, CAIR’s mendacity seems part of the problem rather than part of the solution.