Daniel
Greenfield ran an interesting story on November 9th, “
The
Atlantic: Freedom of Speech Victimizes Muslims
,”
about the Bible Believers
case
, in which an en banc
court reversed the group’s responsibility for basically “disturbing the peace”
of an Arab American festival in 2012.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of
Appeals on Wednesday found that Wayne County violated the constitutional rights
of a group of religious proselytizers who were kicked out of an Arab-American
cultural festival in 2012.
In a rare reversal of a
previous decision from three-judge appeals court panel, an en banc review by 15
judges yielded a majority ruling that Wayne County is civilly liable to the
group of evangelical Christians who sued after being ordered to leave the
festival by sheriff’s deputies.
I don’t recall
seeing a video of this particular confrontation in Dearborn during that
festival. There have been other video recordings of Christians attending that
affair with an “in your face” purpose, to rile up the natives and cause a
publicity-rich incident.
Wikipedia has
revealed some unpleasant facts about Bible Believers.
Bible
Believers
is the
website of
the Bible Believers’ Church of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Because the website reprints anti-Semitic
material such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
and Henry
Ford
’s The International Jew and Holocaust
denial
material from authors such as Bradley Smith and Mark Weber,
a complaint was lodged under Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act.
But
it has dozens of spin-off branches in the U.S. 
A search for Bible Believers turns up several Internet pages of various
affiliated churches and organizations. This
apparently is its main site. The Bible Believers literally sweat the Bible. To
judge by the group’s behavior at the Arab American cultural festival, and being
an atheist, and being physically averse to evangelicals of any stripe, I would
find the Bible Believers as vile, repulsive, and irrational as, say, Anjem
Choudary
, the Islamic firebrand in Britain. From experience, I find as
pointless and futile any attempt at “dialogue” or engagement with the Muslims
on the subject of religion. I find it almost doubly pointless and futile to
engage rabid Christians on the subject. The mental faculties of Muslims and
evangelicals alike are permanent captives of the bear-trip of unquestioned and
unshakable dogma. One may as well talk to rocks. 

But
one group of mystics engaging another group of mystics can either be
hilariously funny or pregnant with tragedy. Witness the history of religious
persecution and wars in Europe, or the interminable bloody strife between
Sunnis and Shi’ites and other Islamic sects.
On
the assumption that the Arab American festival was being held in a public
place, and had some kind of permit from the Dearborn and Wayne County authorities
to hold it on public property, then the Bible Believers had every right to
appear and begin their preaching.
But,
realistically, no Christian or group of Christians can expect to win any
converts from any group of Muslims, so I can’t help but assume that the Bible
Believers repeatedly attended this Festival over the years in hopes of causing
a scene and trouble and headlines. Their much ballyhooed proselytizing was
driven by a highly suspect ulterior motive.
Greenfield’s
focus was not so much the en banc ruling as the Atlantic article and how
Garrett Epps snuck in sympathizing squibs about how the Muslims are
“victimized” and not really protected by the First Amendment – or rather not protected from the First Amendment. Greenfield wrote, quoting Epps from his “Who
Pays the Price for the First Amendment?
”:
This is a thoroughly
predictable outcome. It used to be the standard liberal position. “Used
to” being the key words. The Atlantic’s Garrett
Epps claims
that the First Amendment victimizes Muslims.
Bible
Believers displays vividly the underlying strength of the American commitment
to free speech—and the troubling shadow that commitment inevitably casts.
The troubling shadow being…freedom.
And
that is the focus of Greenfield’s piece. Epps writes that the court’s finding
was just peachy-keen, however, it doesn’t do much for Muslims, who in fact have
a habit of shouting “Allah Akbar!” at the drop of a hat or the flick of a knife
or the gunning of an engine to run over Jews or infidels. Greenfield goes on,
quoting from the Epps article:
But
we pay a price for this freedom, and not everyone pays the price equally. The
First Amendment imposes on us all the duty to maintain the peace even when our
deepest beliefs are denounced. But that duty is doubly onerous for minorities,
because they must endure such abuse more often and longer.
In
a country that is 70 percent Christian, Muslims account for less than one
percent of the population. Since 9/11, powerful religious and political figures
have been openly campaigning to strip this tiny population of the protections
of the Constitution.
It’s a typical leftist tactic
to flip a freedom around into a burden. Look who suffers under freedom of
speech. Minorities. To protect them, we might maybe sorta have to get rid of
it. Isn’t freedom just privilege? What about voting? It rewards the majority.
Think of the heavy burden of democracy on the minority? Wouldn’t they be better
off under an enlightened dictator?
I
read the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals document. While it reached the right
conclusion, I suspect that was just happenstance. Correct judicial outcomes
today are anymore crapes shoots. The court document is a wonderous depository
of abject ignorance treated as received wisdom. For example, in describing
Dearborn, Michigan, it notes, under “Facts” and the heading “
Dearborn
and the Arab International Festival,” that:
Dearborn is also home to one
of the largest populations of Arab Americans in the country—second only to New
York City. Dearborn’s Arab American population is comprised of both Christian
and Muslim families whose national origins include Lebanon, Armenia, Yemen,
Iraq, and Palestine, among other nations. (p.5)
Palestine
is a nation? That’s news to me, and would be news to Israel. In note no. 5 on
page 5, the court document observes that the Christian groups present at the
fair are segregated from all the Muslim tables, tents and booths, but makes no
comment on its own observation.
In 2012, among these
religious groups were an Islamic educational organization, a couple of Arab churches,
as well as a few non-Arab Christian ministries. These groups were stationed
under one tent, along with other non-religious organizations seeking to share
information.
That’s
interesting. To “protect” sensitive Muslim ears, the Christians are segregated
out of earshot and probably out of sight in a tent. An Arab Christian talking
heresy or blasphemy about God at a table next to a Muslim-manned table just won’t
do. It would be intolerable. Most Christians are noted for their capacity for
toleration, but Islam isn’t noted for its high toleration quotient.
On
page 3 we get a sermon on the importance of “diversity in viewpoints” and its
importance to a working democracy.
Diversity, in viewpoints and
among cultures, is not always easy. An inability or a general unwillingness to
understand new or differing points of view may breed fear, distrust, and even
loathing. But it “is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of
irrational fears.” Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 376 (1927) (Brandeis,
J., concurring). Robust discourse, including the exchanging of ideas, may lead
to a better understanding (or even an appreciation) of the people whose views
we once feared simply because they appeared foreign to our own exposure. But
even when communication fails to bridge the gap in understanding, or when
understanding fails to heal the divide between us, the First Amendment demands
that we tolerate the viewpoints of others with whom we may disagree. If the
Constitution were to allow for the suppression of minority or disfavored views,
the democratic process would become imperiled through the corrosion of our
individual freedom. Because “[t]he right to speak freely and to promote
diversity of ideas . . . is . . . one of the chief distinctions that sets us
apart from totalitarian regimes,” Terminiello v. City of Chi., 337 U.S. 1, 4
(1949), dissent is an essential ingredient of our political process.
Clearly,
whoever wrote the majority opinion hasn’t the slightest inkling of what Islam is
all about and what unassuming Muslims are capable of, such as Faisal
Mohammad
, who went on a knifing spree at the University of
California-Merced. If that person had a clue, he would have noted that “dissent”
is not an essential ingredient in the
“political process” of Islam. “Democracy” is not a value in Islam. Islamic domination
and supremacy are the end game of violent and stealth jihad. “Toleration” is not the leitmotiv of Islamic “culture.”  It’s all “My Way” or “No Way.”
The
person who wrote the majority opinion m
ay or may not
be surprised to read
that Islam isn’t
in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran,
the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and
Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.
[Omar
Ahmad
, Founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)]
That person may or may not be shocked to learn that, under Sharia law,
the Bible Believers would have been found guilty of blasphemy, insulting Islam,
mocking Mohammad, and sentenced to death.
With no chance of appeal.