[Note: I posted this last week at Redstate. It provoked a considerable debate, which can be perused (with some amusement, I think) in the comments.]
We must allow for the possibility that Islam as such is a threat to this country. Even more bluntly: The question of the character of Islamic doctrine — whether it can be tolerated without fatal exposure to its war-making titles — must remain an open question if we are to remain a free people.
Here is the enigma with this whole business. Most Americans, Right and Left, will profess belief in a very robust principle of Free Speech. Thus the idea of curbing discussion on an important topic will arouse their repugnance. I have argued in the past for legislation embracing certain aspects of Islamic doctrine — the dogmas, specifically, of Holy War (jihad), Holy Subjugation (dhimma) and perhaps Sharia law itself — into our current sedition law: in other words, outlawing the promulgation of these dogmas. Even among people favorably deposed toward an aggressive posture vis-à-vis Islam, this is met with suspicion and hostility.
Fair enough — but why abandon this Free Speech principle when it comes to the character of the Islamic religion? There is the perplexity and the frustration. People jealous to preserve a “marketplace of ideas,” where true ideas will “out-compete” false ones in the end, while understandably hostile toward my proposal to proscribe certain forms of Islamic speech, yet exhibit an apparent insouciance about proposals (less overt than mine, to be sure) to proscribe certain forms of speech about Islam.
Now it is a fact that in parts of the Western world (for instance that obscure bastion of the West known as the United Kingdom), it is well nigh illegal to speak ill of Islam as such. Virtually the entire Fourth Estate, including the American press, preferred to sit idly, or worse, when the fury of the Islamic world was aroused against a Dutch newspaper’s chosen manner of Free Speech.
Bruce Bawer’s recent essay can be perused for more examples: the Liberals of the West (not exclusive to Europe) are right now busy throwing away their inheritance of principled Free Speech on the subject of Islam. They want to preclude public discussion on whether Islam as such is a threat to the West. Perhaps the reader will forgive me my impatience with this position.
The question of whether Islam is a threat is among the most pressing of all questions right now. The pressure or urgency of this question is, to take but one example, the primary impulse behind efforts to firmly unite the Republican Party behind John McCain. In my judgment it will press upon us for quite some time; likely it will only press harder upon our children and grandchildren. The war made by the Jihad is a very long one indeed. Ask Charles Martel. He was born in 688.
So even if you want no part of my Jihad-sedition law; even if this sort of talk of outlawing speech makes you instinctually wary — I beg you to consider, on your own principles, the damage that could be done, were a regime of stifling PC orthodoxy to confirm its mastery over public debate on the nature of the Islamic religion.
A republic is a bold and wonderful thing: the assertion that even questions as hard as this one, can be properly, wisely, justly decided by the people themselves. No one ever said it would be easy.