Try a little thought experiment. What would have happened in this country during the Cold War if the Soviet Union successfully neutralized anti-communists opposed to the Kremlin's plans for world domination?
Of course, Moscow strove to discredit those in America and elsewhere who opposed its totalitarian agenda – especially after Sen. Joseph McCarthy's excesses made it fashionable to vilify patriots by accusing them of believing communists were "under every bed."
But what if the USSR and its ideological soul-mates in places like China, North Korea, Cuba, Eastern Europe and parts of Africa had been able to criminalize efforts to oppose their quest for the triumph of world communism? What if it had been an internationally prosecutable offense even to talk about the dangers inherent in communist rule and the need to resist it?
The short answer is that history might very well have come out differently. Had courageous anti-communists been unable accurately and forcefully to describe the nature of that time's enemy – and to work against the danger posed by its repressive, seditious program, the Cold War might well have been lost.
Flash forward to today. At the moment, another totalitarian ideology characterized by techniques and global ambitions strikingly similar to those of yesteryear's communists is on the march. It goes by varying names: "Islamofascism," "Islamism," "jihadism" or "radical-" "extremist-" or "political Islam." Unlike the communists, however, adherents to this ideology are making extraordinary strides in Western societies toward criminalizing those who dare oppose the Islamist end-state – the imposition of brutal Shariah Law on Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Consider but a few indicators of this ominous progress:
- In March, the 57 Muslim-state Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) prevailed upon the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution requiring the effective evisceration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Henceforth, the guaranteed right of free expression will not extend to any criticism of Islam, on the grounds that it amounts to an abusive act of religious discrimination. A UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression has been charged with documenting instances in which individuals and media organizations engage in what the Islamists call "Islamophobia." Not to be outdone, the OIC has its own "ten-year program of action" which will monitor closely all Islamophobic incidents and defamatory statements around the world.
- Monitoring is just the first step. Jordan's Prosecutor General has recently brought charges against Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders. According to a lawsuit, "Fitna" – Wilders' short documentary film that ties certain Koranic passages to Islamist terrorism – is said to have slandered and insulted the Prophet Mohammed, demeaned Islam and offended the feelings of Muslims in violation of the Jordanian penal code. Mr. Wilders has been summoned to Amman to stand trial and, if he fails to appear voluntarily, international warrants for his arrest will be issued.
Zakaria Al-Sheikh, head of the "Messenger of Allah Unites Us Campaign" which is the plaintiff in the Jordanian suit, reportedly has "confirmed that the [prosecutor's action] is the first step towards setting in place an international law criminalizing anyone who insults Islam and the Prophet Mohammed." In the meantime, his campaign is trying to penalize the nations that have spawned "Islamophobes" like Wilders and the Danish cartoonists by boycotting their exports – unless the producers publicly denounce the perpetrators both in Jordan and in their home media.
- Unfortunately, it is not just some companies that are submitting to this sort of coercion – a status known in Islam as "dhimmitude." Western officials and governmental entities appear increasingly disposed to go along with such efforts to mutate warnings about Shariah law and its adherents from "politically incorrect" to "criminally punishable" activity.
For example, in Britain, Canada and even the United States, the authorities are declining to describe the true threat posed by Shariah Law and are using various techniques to discourage – and in some cases, prosecute – those who do. We are witnessing the spectacle of authors' books being burned, ministers prosecuted, documentary film-makers investigated and journalists hauled before so-called "Human Rights Councils" on charges of offending Muslims, slandering Islam or other "Islamophobic" conduct. Jurists on both sides of the Atlantic are acceding to the insinuation of Shariah law in their courts. And Wall Street is increasingly joining other Western capital markets in succumbing to the seductive Trojan Horse of "Shariah-Compliant Finance."
Let's be clear: The Islamists are trying to establish a kind of Catch-22: If you point out that they seek to impose a barbaric, repressive and seditious Shariah Law, you are insulting their faith and engaging in unwarranted, racist and bigoted fear-mongering. On the other hand, pursuant to Shariah, you must submit to that theo-political-legal program. If you don't, you can legitimately be killed. It is not an irrational fear to find that prospect unappealing. And it is not racist or bigoted to decry and oppose Islamist efforts to bring it about – ask the anti-Islamist Muslims who are frequently accused of being Islamophobes!
If we go along with our enemies' demands to criminalize Islamophobia, we will mutate Western laws, traditions, values and societies beyond recognition. Ultimately, today's totalitarian ideologues will triumph where their predecessors were defeated.
To avoid such a fate, those who love freedom must oppose the seditious program the Islamists call Shariah – and all efforts to impose its 1st Amendment-violating blasphemy, slander and libel laws on us in the guise of preventing Western Islamophobia.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is President of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for the Washington Times.