This is the 3rd article in our Civil Rights And The Freedom Of Speech series. The first installment was entitled Civil Rights And The Freedom Of Speech, and the second was Freedom Of Speech, Gag Rules, Gag Orders, And Gagged Critics.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Thus speaks the law. Yet, is the law applied equally to all? What happens when national origin enters the picture? What if the national origin factor is compounded by religious beliefs?
As early as September 7, 2001, the American Muslim Council reported a violation of the freedom of speech of the Muslim press within the United States, allegedly perpetrated by he FBI. (1) It appears that the FBI, at the head of a variety of other state and federal organizations, led the raid on a Texas company named InfoCom which hosted websites of about 450 Muslim organizations domestically and abroad. The raid represented the result of a two year investigation, and the AMC speculates (somewhat euphemistically) that “American Muslim support for Palestinian human rights struggle” may be a contributing factor to the run-in.
Ongoing American investigations paint a slightly different picture. According to these sources, it appears that Hamas Funds in Palestine (which support terrorists and their families) have been traced back to the United States, and especially InfoCom, via the desk of Ghassan Elashi who happens to be the head of the Holy Land Foundation and vice president of InfoCom. (2)
So what does this little excursion into the skirmish (decried by some to be a freedom of speech violation) show us? Well, first and foremost, one person’s free exercise of speech is another’s illegal support of terrorist organizations. It also shows how quickly and easily the allegations of Constitutional violations rear their ugly heads. Additionally, it evidences that freedom of speech in and of itself is a noble cause, yet if left unchecked, it is abused to support the killing and maiming of individuals, quite often in the name of national pride, religious orders, or personal vendettas.
So where does this leave the United States Constitution? Should American citizens accept that the right to freedom of speech may be abridged at their government’s discretion?
Exercise your freedom of speech by commenting on this article and the ideas expressed therein by examining if “the United States Government should have the right (privilege?) to monitor the exercise of the freedom of speech based on ethnic/religious affiliations? Do you draw a line? Where?” at the Freedom Of Speech, National Origin, And Religious Belief discussion on the forum.
Please take a look at your host’s book recommendation.
A Different Mirror: The Making of Multicultural America, Vol. 1
The publisher states that
“Beginning with the colonization of the "New World" and ending with the Los Angeles riots of 1992, this book recounts the history of America in the voices of the non-Anglo peoples of the United States--Native Americans, African Americans, Jews, Irish Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and others--groups who helped create this country's rich mosaic culture. In this significant work of scholarship, Professor Takaki grapples with the raw truth of American history and examines the ultimate question of what it means to be an American.
- http://www.4law.co.il/infocom1.htm, http://www.4law.co.il/L1.htm