More on Ikle and Nuking Mecca
To: gulf2000 list
Date: Tue, 04 Jun 2002 09:39:53 -0400
From: Juan Cole
There is a difference between believing in freedom of speech and believing
in giving prominent press platforms to hate speech. I believe Mr. Ikle
should be free to believe and to say anything he likes. I don’t believe
the editors of the Wall Street Journal have a responsibility to print
anything he says. Indeed, I believe they have a responsibility not to
print hate speech.
It is quite ironic that universities are derided by the Right as lacking
in free speech rights. In fact, almost any opinion can be heard on U.S.
campuses. Rightwing populist Bill O’Reilly addressed an overflow crowd at
Harvard recently. It is true that some opinions get heckled, but that is
free speech too. In contrast to university settings, in the private
sector–from whence this critique comes–there is no freedom of speech
whatsoever. Employees of private companies can be summarily fired for
their political views, for trying to organize unions, etc. A friend of
mine lost her job at a bank because she attended a non-violent
demonstration. (The first amendment only protects you from reprisals by
the Federal government.) Persons are not expelled from universities for
attending non-violent demonstrations.
I think we should loudly condemn bigotry no matter from where it issues.
More especially when that bigotry is expressed by a prominent former
official of the U.S. government in among the leading newspapers in the
United States. The issue as to whether the expression of bigotry should
be allowed is quite a different one. In my view it should–as long as it
does not constitute an immediate incitement to violence or
law-breaking–but those espousing it should be obliged to buy an orange
crate to stand on in the park, not given an internationally respected
press platform for their views.
Before the rise of the neocons in the 1970s, it was well understood by
minority communities in the United States that they had to work against
bigotry in general. Because if an atmosphere was created or allowed to
persist that allowed one minority group to be targeted, it had the
potential to boomerang on the others, as well. Racialist hatred is no
respecter of persons. Now I perceive a cockiness among some minorities in
the U.S., such that they–former victims of discrimination–advocate
racial profiling and discrimination, even demonization, for some. I
solemnly predict that if they continue on this path, they will eventually
come deeply to regret it, as shall we all.
U of Michigan