How to lose a democracy

Monday, November 21, 2005
The Australian: Muslim fanatics terrorise a nation [ 21nov05 ]: "Islamist murders and threats have transformed the once-tolerant Netherlands into a place of armed bodyguards and fear, writes Anthony Browne."

I listen to so many Americans who are complaining that the Patriot Act is removing our civil rights, and that if these rights are watered down at all, we will lose the very freedoms we are fighting for. Well, I think they are looking in the wrong direction.

One of our most basic freedoms is our freedom of speech. Political Correctness has already done us harm as far as free speech goes, because PC actually attempts to control our thinking. But the punishment for an un-politically correct statement is merely censure or mockery.

The punishment for speaking out against Islamist fanatics or even criticizing Islam may be death.

The heart of any democracy is public discourse and dissent. If we lose the ability to speak our minds and attempt to pursuade others of our individual points of view, we lose our democracy.

What is happening in the Netherlands, a place where freedom and tolerance were the envy of many throughout the West, is far worse than a librarian telling an FBI investigator what book one may have shown an interest in. It is worse than the recent car-burnings in France. It is the death of free speech. The death of democracy.

We see signs of it elsewhere in CAIR's protestations and the business community caving to their pressure. We see signs in the banning of piggy banks from Britain's financial institutions. We see signs in the politically correct approach the New York Times takes on any story involving muslims or Islam.

The battle against terrorism is only one level of this conflict between the tolerant and the intolerant. We have not yet begun to fight the other, larger, battle.

I will end, as the linked article does, with the same horrifying words:

"There is self-censorship."


terrye said...

They live in fear of some madman doing the same thing to them that was done to Van Gogh.

And it seems people are so afraid to talk about the intimidation that many of them act as if it is normal.

Normal to take piggy banks out of banks. Normal to do away with a swirly design on a frozen desert. Normal to walk down a street and listen to a jihadi preach hate in front of a mosque.

I remember reading a story about a girl who grew up in Europe before WW2 and the lengths people went to in order to delude themselves about the growing menace around them.

It is very creepy when people have to fear [really fear] the wrong people will hear them say the wrong thing.

Peter UK said...

There is a mechanism for this,first find a politically correct shibboleth,like Exclusion,then create a groundswell of opinion with carefully conducted interviews.
Run straw polls amongst the excluded community.Get it taken up by lawyers, social workers and community groups,make it an academic study,a new buzz on the lips of the Fourth Estate, there is bound to be a politician on the make who will see votes in it.
The salient feature must be to shift blame from those claiming discrimination to society at large,repeat as neccessary.

Knucklehead said...

Academics and authorities in The Netherlands are trying to understand why, in their country, Islamic extremism has gone down the path of assassination, while in Britain and Spain it has produced bombings.

It got that way because of the soft racims of unfettered "tolerance". They didn't demand tolerance in return for tolerance and, therefore, their tolerance has reduced their freedom.

Syl said...


Do you think at some point people may wise up and realize that a huge victim group here is muslims themselves?

Would lawyers ever dare take up that cause?

I fear the answer.

ex-democrat said...

take it up how, syl?

Syl said...


I don't know. I simply mean the power of the Left to make victim classes could be used to show the mass of ordinary muslims who just try to live their lives, that the Islamists and terrorists are oppressing them.

I guess, when you think of it, giving them democracy does the same thing in the end.

Peter UK said...

It has always been the shouters and screamer of this world who get attention,those who quietly tend their plots and hoe their rows only get to inherit the earth,all six feet of it.

truepeers said...

While I agree with everyone here, perhaps there is an optimistic half full glass being neglected. I bet most of us here had, not so many years ago, more liberal attitudes towards both Islam and liberalism. Now the limits and dark sides of both belief systems have been better revealed to us and we are revolting, first largely in anonymity, because we can still be hurt by the liberal consensus of the many who are slower to come to the new revelation. But, eventually, the truth will out more and more. So perhaps we are less self-censored today than we were in the past. We were perhaps just happier then in our relative ignorance of what fighting was to come.

Buddy Larsen said...

Right, Truepeers, so long as you don't acknowledge the house is on fire, you don't have to get off the couch and join the bucket brigade. The bucket-brigadeers need to find a way to put the onus on the see-no-evil potatoes, tho. It's a damn shame not to douse the fire as soon as possible, it takes so much more rebuilding the longer it burns.