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Dude, where’s my freedom?

Letter to the Editor | Monday, February 23, 2009

Insulated in our Notre Dame bubble, we have been arguing over whether we should condemn Michael Phelps for taking bong rips, or if a boycott of Subway is more bologna than is fit to consume. However, I feel that we are missing out on a far more important story.

Geert Wilders, a freely and democratically elected member of Dutch parliament was invited to the British House of Lords to screen his controversial, anti-Islamic film Fitna (available on YouTube) and to discuss his views with his hosts. On February 11, Wilders was detained when his flight landed at Heathrow Airport and immediately sent back to the Netherlands due to a ban by the British Home Office, which claimed that his presence would “threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the U.K.” Perhaps this view was reached in part after Lord Nazir Ahmed, the only Muslim member of the House of Lords, threatened to mobilize 10,000 Muslims to prevent Wilders from entering the House. Ahmed quickly turned to the Pakistani press to promote this “victory for the Muslim community.”

It seems strange that a victory for any community would come after a defeat for freedom of speech, about which he said, “Freedom of speech is alright so long as it doesn’t come at my expense.” In the words of Noam Chomsky, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” Unsurprisingly, there has been no similar move to protect “community harmony” by stopping extremists who actually promise violence in the streets of London, and other European capitals, commonly chanting such fun phrases as: “Bomb, bomb (country of choice)” and “USA you will pay, the mujaheddin are on their way.” So much for the dialogue promised by multiculturalism and political-correctness.

European politicians have shown that not only are they too afraid to speak out on the increasing crisis around them, but that they would gladly trample such hallowed concepts as freedom of speech and expression to avoid upsetting an exploding Muslim electorate. The precedent set is a grim one indeed, but it is important to understand, as it just may enter this bubble of ours sooner than we think.

Jay Rowley



Feb. 22