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The Anti-Free Speech Mayor

eye on the news

The Anti-Free Speech Mayor

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio looks to silence critics of Islamism. October 6, 2016
Politics and law
New York

New York mayor Bill de Blasio is focused like a laser on the important things: namely, ensuring that open and honest discussion about Islam is chilled. At the end of September, the de Blasio administration and the NYC Commission on Human Rights announced a campaign to combat “hateful speech [that] has made Muslim residents the target of misguided attacks and threats, especially in the aftermath of terrorist incidents.”

De Blasio’s office hasn’t quantified the scourge of hateful rhetoric toward Muslims in New York City, likely because it is unquantifiable. The best argument the mayor can make for his new initiative is that “reports of attacks and threats against Muslims have surged nationally,” this despite the FBI’s most recent hate-crime figures showing once again that a disproportionate percentage of all hate crimes were driven by anti-Jewish bias, by 57 percent to 16 percent versus anti-Islamic bias.

To make the claim that conditions are particularly hostile for Muslims in New York, the mayor offers that the Commission on Human Rights has “increased investigations into discrimination based on race, national origin, and religion in New York City by more than 60 percent over the last two years.” Presumably, the city would have shown a specific increase in actual bias crimes against New York Muslims if the data actually backed its narrative.

De Blasio’s new program explicitly calls for countering “negative rhetoric,” which means that it is speech that his office seeks to police. Nowhere does de Blasio explain where he gets the right as mayor to use taxpayer dollars to challenge speech he doesn’t like and that his office can’t even quantify. Further, how is it within the purview of an elected official to promote a particular religious group in the first place? The press-release language is drafted nicely to say that the mayor’s office is promoting “respect, understanding, and support” for the city’s Muslim communities, rather than Islam itself. But the mayor’s office is partnering with the Islamic Center at NYU on a new “cultural competency initiative” called “Understanding Islam.” The purpose? “[T]o help City employees and public and private employers citywide better understand the Islamic faith and to dispel common myths.” One can imagine the howls about separation of church and state that a city initiative to help employees better understand the Catholic or Jewish faiths would provoke.

Equally disturbing is de Blasio’s meeting of the minds with London mayor Sadiq Khan, who has ties to several Islamic supremacists, and has supported policies consistent with Sharia law. In mid-September, de Blasio and Khan spoke with Muslim leaders and community members about how New York and other cities “can better address Islamophobia and prevent hate crimes and other acts of discrimination.” Preventing crime is a laudable goal. Policing “Islamophobia,” however, means, in effect, enforcing Islamic law—with its radically different understanding of intellectual freedom—over and above our First Amendment rights.

There’s precedent for de Blasio’s actions. For over a decade, the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) has been promoting a plan of action for “combating Islamophobia,” including “call[ing] upon all States to enact laws to counter it, including deterrent punishments.” In 2011, then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton gave the U.S. imprimatur to the OIC-drafted UN Human Rights Coalition (HRC) Resolution 16/18 consistent with this agenda, which calls for, “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief.”

Wittingly or unwittingly, New York is enforcing a plan that conforms with the stated aims of the foremost supranational Islamic political body, consistent with Sharia speech-code standards and to the detriment of free-speech rights. Earlier this year, the NYPD purged valuable resources produced by its intelligence division that forthrightly described the Islamic supremacist ideology. Now, the de Blasio administration is committing to combat free speech, publicly support Islam, and educate New Yorkers on the religion’s purportedly true meaning. We’re in the best of hands.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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