Free Speech Battle in Small-Town Tennessee Robert Spencer, FrontPage Magazine
Last Tuesday, Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Tennessee, FBI Special Agent Kenneth Moore, and Zak Mohyuddin of the American Muslim Advisory Council hosted an event called “Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society” in the town of Manchester, Tennessee. My American Freedom Defense Initiative colleague Pamela Geller and I called for a protest of what was clearly an event designed to intimidate Americans into being afraid to criticize the elements of Islam that give rise to violence and supremacism – and patriots turned out in numbers far beyond what we expected.
Nearly 2,000 protesters assembled at the Manchester Convention Center to register their disapproval of this latest Obama Administration attempt to silence criticism of jihad and Islamic supremacism, and to stigmatize the critics. When the event started, the room was filled way beyond capacity, with people filling the aisles and standing in the doorways – while many hundreds more continued to rally outside and wait for news of what went on.
The event, predictably, was all about hate crimes, hate speech, and how Tennesseans needed to be more inclusive and welcoming of the increasing numbers of Muslims in their midst. Mohyuddin, Killian and Moore all spoke with extraordinary condescension to the crowd, as if it were taken for granted that their only reason for being suspicious of Muslims was the color of their skin (Killian said exactly that) and cultural differences. The audience, however, was having none of it, and frequently shouted responses to the various (and numerous) disingenuous and manipulative assertions coming from the speakers.
That gave the mainstream media their take on the event. In a peculiar move coming from those who would seem to have a good bit to lose if the freedom of speech were entirely subverted, mainstream media reporting on the event uniformly portrayed the pro-free speech protesters as a gang of racist, bigoted thugs, shouting down the valiant paladins of tolerance.
Nicole Young’s report in the generally hopeless Nashville paper, The Tennessean, was a case in point: “The interruptions,” it claimed, “were so intense at times that attendee Elaine Smith, 55, of Bedford County, said she was afraid of other audience members. ‘I came here because I wanted to learn something … but I couldn’t hear because the audience was so disrespectful,’ she said. ‘I cried when I got here. It makes me really sad especially because these people say they’re Christians. The God I worship doesn’t teach hate.’”
The claim that someone in the crowd was “afraid” of the other audience members, as if these patriots who came out to defend the freedom of speech were some gang of menacing thugs, bent on silencing their foes by force, was utterly preposterous – this was not, after all, a meeting of United Against Fascism or some other genuinely thuggish Leftist group. But this, of course, is how the mainstream media always portray those who oppose jihad and Islamic supremacism, and the facts be damned.
Pamela Geller’s questions are apposite: “The enemedia supporting the suppression and restriction of free speech in America presents an interesting paradox. Are they so clueless or self-important that they think they will be spared? Didn’t the Obama administration spying on the AP and other news organizations teach them anything?” Good questions for Nicole Young to ponder.
The Tennessean report, like Bill Killian, Kenneth Moore, and Zak Mohyuddin at the “Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society” event, completely ignores the genuine concern that people have about jihad and Islamic supremacist activity, and the fact that Muslim groups (aided and abetted by Barack Obama) use claims of “hate” and “bigotry” to shut down honest discussion of how jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism.
Killian and Moore expatiated at length about how “inflammatory” speech could violate civil rights laws, and how Arab and Muslim children were being taunted in school, and how Tennesseans should be more welcoming. But no one, of course, was there to defend the taunting of Muslim or Arab schoolchildren. No one was there because he hated foreigners. No one was there to defend sending people violent threats. The protesters turned out in such unexpectedly high numbers because they knew that truthful and accurate exploration of Islam’s violent teachings has been deemed “inflammatory” by both Muslim groups and the Obama regime — and that leaves us unable to examine the motives and goals of jihad terrorists, or to defend ourselves adequately against them. That’s why everyone was so upset with Killian, Moore, and Mohyuddin, but the media were either oblivious to that fact or intent on ignoring it.
One wonders who decided to hold an event like this in small-town Tennessee, rather than some higher-profile area, in the first place. Did the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s office think that their new suggestion that civil rights laws could be used to silence criticism of Islam would escape notice if it were held in a place that is usually outside the relentless gaze of the mainstream media? Did they hope to float a trial balloon and see if their anti-free speech initiative would be met with indifference and complacency in Manchester, Tennessee, which might be an indication that it wouldn’t encounter serious resistance in Nashville or Dallas or New York or Washington, either?
Whatever the real reason may be, their efforts failed. The patriots who came to the Manchester event demonstrated to the Obama Administration that their efforts to subvert the First Amendment will not go unchallenged. That evening showed that the children and heirs of those who were responsible for the Boston Tea Party and other manifestations of resistance to tyranny have not all become willfully ignorant and complacent. And resist tyranny we will, once again.