More On Ikle And Nuking Mecca To

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.


Juan Cole

U of Michigan

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