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Anisa Abd el Fattah Responds:

Anisa Abd el Fattah, as you may recall, filed a complaint with the Justice Department asking it to "take the steps necessary to end" various "practices," apparently including "statements made that may reach the level of hate speech," "various organizations['] and individuals['] ... provid[ing] misleading and highly politicized information," and more, by (among others) "the 'Jewish lobby.'" As I described in the original post, these "practices" consist mostly of constitutionally protected speech, which led me to criticize the complaint. (Abd el Fattah, incidentally, is a former CAIR board member and apparently the current head of the International Association for Muslim Women and Children, "an accredited NGO with the UN Division on the Rights of the Palestinians," as well of the National Association of Muslim American Women [NAMAW].)

Abd el Fattah has sent me and others an e-mail in response (paragraph breaks and emphasis added):

While trolling the net today, I came across ... [your material] commenting on the NAMAW letter of complaint to the Justice Department against the Jewish Lobby.

The position that you appear to take on this issue is very interesting, especially since I have never heard Jewish academicians argue so robustly for the right of people to have free speech rights to deny the holocaust, or to compliment Hitler, or to say that Israel should be wiped off the map. Every time any such statement is publicized, in whatever context, Jewish people raise a fuss, and the speaker is ordained, an "anti-Semite," in an effort to deny their right to free speech by making the price of such speech so high that it wont be utilized.

I'd like to ask if you believe that there is one standard of free speech for Jewish people, and another for other Americans. I'd also like to know why you sought to characterize our position as "against" free sppech and civil rights for Jews, without asking me if that is actually our position, or even allowing me to give my opinion on the 1st amendment, prior to your posting your opinion about what you thought I meant or said, or what you feel compelled us to submit a complaint. I have cc'd several others on this e-mail, since I want my comments to be public, so they cannot be misrepresented, and also your response, should you decide to respond....

Let me respond in turn:

(1) I can't speak to what Anisa Abd el Fattah has heard; but a quick search reveals that quite a few Jewish "academicians" have spoken out in favor of free speech rights for Holocaust deniers and for Nazis and Hitler sympathizers more broadly. Harvard law professor (and noted commentator on Jewish matters) Alan Dershowitz, in the Jerusalem Post, Mar. 17, 1998: "Even Holocaust denial speech — among the most offensive imaginable — should not be censored." Nadine Strossen, law professor and ACLU President, 25 S. Ill. U. L.J. 243, 279 (2001): "I support free speech for Nazis and other anti-Semites not despite my background and my first-hand experience with the evils of anti-Semitism, but rather, precisely because of that fact." Me: "Holocaust denial laws are ... pernicious." There are plenty of other such examples. (I can't give similar examples as to statements urging that "Israel should be wiped off the map," because I know of no incidents in America where anyone has even suggested that such speech should be restricted, and thus of no scholars who have had occasion to disagree with such suggestions.)

(2) Let me turn, though, from my view and the view of many other scholars, Jewish and otherwise, and look a bit at Abd el Fattah's. She writes that "[any time a statement] deny[ing] the holocaust, or ... compliment[ing] Hitler, or ... say[ing] that Israel should be wiped off the map ... is publicized, in whatever context, Jewish people raise a fuss, and the speaker is ordained, an 'anti-Semite,' in an effort to deny their right to free speech by making the price of such speech so high that it wont be utilized."

Now, I would hope that when people compliment Hitler or deny the Holocaust, or say that Israel should be wiped off the map — not just that Israel is in error in some way, but that it should be wiped off the map — it isn't just "Jewish people" but other people as well who would protest.

But beyond this, what exactly is wrong with inferring that people who "compliment Hitler" are likely anti-Semites (in all but the most unusual of contexts)? Are there are a lot of people who have nothing against Jews but compliment a man who is remembered for (among other things) deliberately arranging the slaughter of six million Jews? Shouldn't we "raise a fuss" about such compliments — not by asking federal prosecutors to "take the steps necessary to end" the statements, but by condemning the speech? If the "price of such speech [is made] so high" because people widely condemn the speech and the speaker, that is the exercise of free speech, not a denial of free speech.

Likewise, it's possible that some Holocaust deniers are not anti-Semites. And it's possible that some people who want Israel "wiped off the map" (a term that both in its tone and its substance suggests a violent destruction of the nation and likely a substantial chunk of its inhabitants) are not anti-Semites. (Note that I'm not speaking here simply of disagreement with Israel's policies, but a call for it to be "wiped off the map.")

Still, it's a fairly plausible inference that these speakers are indeed anti-Semites. And even if they aren't anti-Semites, it's quite proper for "people [Jewish or otherwise to] raise a fuss," and impose a social price on such speech by persuading people to strongly condemn it. People who make these statements should "have free speech rights" to do so free of the Justice Department's "tak[ing] the steps necessary to end" the speech. But they naturally have no right to make the statements free of others' making statements disagreeing.

So I'm rather puzzled by Abd el Fattah's reaction. Does she think that when people "deny the holocaust, or ... compliment Hitler, or ... say that Israel should be wiped off the map," people shouldn't "raise a fuss"? Does she think that "compliment[ing] Hitler" is not likely to be evidence of the speaker's "anti-Semit[ism]"? And if she doesn't take such views, then how can one explain her e-mail?

(3) As to "why [I] sought to characterize [the letter's] position as 'against' free sppech and civil rights for Jews": The letter calls on the Justice Department to "take the steps necessary to end" various "practices," which apparently include — for the reasons I gave — First Amendment-protected speech by "the 'Jewish lobby'" and others. Sounds like a restriction on free speech to me.

Nor did I see much reason for asking Abd el Fattah "if that is actually our position, or even allowing me to give my opinion on the 1st amendment, prior to your posting your opinion about what you thought I meant or said, or what you feel compelled us to submit a complaint": The letter (which Anisa Abd el Fattah sent out as a press release) seemed to speak for itself, and I didn't see need to ask for further clarification.

This having been said, I'd be delighted to hear Anisa Abd el Fattah's views on the First Amendment more generally. I have e-mailed her asking for those views, and I'd be glad to post them and respond to them later.

Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Why, Professor Volokh, I'm sure that with just a little effort we can come up with a long list of people that would praise Hitler who aren't anti-Semites. Fans of the autobahns and the Volkswagen Beetle. People that appreciate nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Those concerned about how overpopulated Europe would be today if not for Hitler's amazingly clever method of solving the excess population problem.

More seriously: Anisa Abd el Fattah's email above is a reminder of the famous saying, "Better to remain silent, and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth, and remove all doubt."
1.22.2007 4:20pm
ray_g:
Once more, someone (purposely?) equating criticism with censorship.
1.22.2007 4:26pm
anonVCfan:
I've always admired your ability to presume that people who disagree with you are arguing in good faith until they demonstrate otherwise. I'm interested to see if further dialogue with Ms. Abd el Fattah yields anything productive.
1.22.2007 4:38pm
donaldk2 (mail):

She is just trying it on, trying to find out how spineless we are. What I would like to see is for the Justice Department to reject this petition with the contempt it deserves.

Then she and her kind might understand that there is a limit to the patience of the American people.
1.22.2007 4:43pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Anyone who believes in the unanimity of "Jewish academicians" has never heard the joke about "ten Jews, eleven opinions."
1.22.2007 4:45pm
zooba:
speek? [EV: Eek! Thanks, fixed it.]
1.22.2007 4:51pm
TomH (mail):
@donaldk2
Then she and her kind might understand that there is a limit to the patience of the American people


Unfortunately, there are plenty American people who have this same point of with respect to the method of her argument (i.e. someone (purposely?) equating criticism with censorshipn - thx ray_g), if not the subject.

TH
1.22.2007 5:04pm
donaldk2 (mail):
I can't emphasize strongly enough that sweet reason is not an effective response to people like this. You have to frighten them; if not, sooner or later they will eat you for breakfast.
1.22.2007 5:10pm
M. Gross (mail):

I can't emphasize strongly enough that sweet reason is not an effective response to people like this. You have to frighten them; if not, sooner or later they will eat you for breakfast.


I somehow doubt blustering at them via weblog would be an effective response.
1.22.2007 5:14pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Donaldk2: Effective for what? If your goal is to change the views or actions of Anisa Abd el Fattah, I don't know how one can do that. If your goal is to alert others to the existence of such arguments (and arguers), and the error of such arguments, then I'd think that sweet reason would often be effective.
1.22.2007 5:17pm
donaldk2 (mail):
Right you are. A good kick in the a** would do better.
1.22.2007 5:17pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Donaldk2: Has your experience been that good kicks in the ass are effective at persuading the kickee to change her views, or the public speech she engages in? More importantly (since my goal here is to persuade the public, not the person I'm criticizing), have you found that observers who see you kick the speaker's ass end up being better disposed to your views?
1.22.2007 5:26pm
Silicon Valley Jim:
Once more, someone (purposely?) equating criticism with censorship.

Exactly. I fully support the right of cretins like Anisa Abd el Fattah to praise Hitler, deny the Holocaust, call for Israel to be wiped off the map, etc. I am also one of those non-Jewish "people who would protest" quite vigorously.
1.22.2007 5:33pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
She seems less clever or articulate than some, but name me anybody who is agitating for hate speech laws that isn't suspect -- I would say, vehemently suspect -- of being against fundamental American legal rights and common principles.

Sticks and stones . . .
1.22.2007 5:36pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Silicon Valley Jim: Actually, you'd just be "rais[ing] a fuss." I mean, someone is just denying the existence of a well-attested historical event; complimenting one of the worst mass murderers of all time; and calling for a nation to be wiped off the map -- what's the big deal? Complaining about that isn't really protesting, it's merely "rais[ing] a fuss." Only a fussy person would react to such statements.
1.22.2007 5:37pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
By the way, folks, let's avoid personal insults ("cretin"); it's quite enough (in fact, usually more effective) to condemn someone's substantive arguments, without throwing around personal attacks.
1.22.2007 5:39pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
Donaldk2: Has your experience been that good kicks in the ass are effective at persuading the kickee to change her views, or the public speech she engages in? More importantly (since my goal here is to persuade the public, not the person I'm criticizing), have you found that observers who see you kick the speaker's ass end up being better disposed to your views?

Um, yeah let's just hold off on the victory dance over your opponent though? She didn't make a very strong argument so it doesn't take much to refute it, particularly if you're at all familiar with the First Amendment. Plus, she's obviously she's not a native English speaker (not that there's anything wrong with that) which helps explain "academicians".


To follow up on an earlier post, and perhaps give EV a chance to "play up" and not spend more time "delighting" in victories like this one ...

Anyone have a chance to read President Carter's letter in Sunday's Washington Post? His point is similar, I think, but more worthy of merit in that he does wonder about those who are critical of Israel's policies, not the holocaust or Hitler, nor would he deny First Amendment protections for all.
1.22.2007 5:51pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I am struck by the statement in the passage quoted by Magoo to the effect that Islamofascists were invited into the US by the left. Unless this refers to the debates of the postwar period about overturning the restrictions of the Immigration Act of 1924, which I guess had a sort of left vs. right aspect to it, this seems very odd since until the recent upsurge in anti-immigration sentiment, which seems to be mostly related to Mexican immigration, my impression is that immigration policy was a matter of considerable consensus. It certainly hasn't figured in any national level campaign until very recently.
1.22.2007 5:53pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
I agree entirely that calls for "physically" fighting people who aren't themselves engaging in violence -- or for that matter "legally" fighting them, if they aren't doing anything that's legally actionable -- are reprehensible; thanks for noting this. The comment also seems to be pretty ill-founded factually; even if Anisa Abd el Fattah is an immigrant, I expect she came to the country under a general policy of allowing a wide range of immigrants from various places, not because of the "American Left['s conscious] decision to invite Islamofascists ... into this country."

However reprehensible, though, the comment is nonetheless pretty valuable: It helps illustrate that there are some would-be censors on both sides of the debate, and that we should watch out for the sentiments and actions of those who see themselves as our allies (on at least some matters) as well as for the sentiments and actions of our adversaries.
1.22.2007 5:55pm
Matt Caplan (mail):
Mr. magoo --

I don't see how Mr. Volokh's efforts at persuasion are undermined by the statements of commenters. Au contraire, I find his refusal to bowdlerize to be part and parcel of his efforts at persuasion: y'know, the principle of free speech.
1.22.2007 5:55pm
T-Web:
There you go, Professor Volokh, using your insidious Jewish logic again.
/sarcasm off/

There is almost certainly nothing that can be said to persuade Abd el Fattah of the flaws in her thinking. It is nice, though, to see such a ridiculous and, frankly, wicked position so thoroughly and dispassionately dismantled.
1.22.2007 5:56pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
Oh no. I can see I'm too late.

The victory party appears to be in full swing already.

Just don't stay up too late and get too out of shape celebrating the mental prowess on display here? Because this really wasn't much of a competition, so why all the cheers unless you really really hate your rival and play up wins like this as more than they are.
1.22.2007 5:56pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Anisa Abd el Fattah: wotta maroon, as Bugs Bunny so eloquently puts it.

he does wonder about those who are critical of Israel's policies, not the holocaust or Hitler

Well, I've gotten in trouble for suggesting that Israel's government act a bit less Nazi ... but equating *anything* they've done with the Holocaust is just stupid, so I hope Carter's not a maroon as well.
1.22.2007 5:57pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Ms. LaSchatze, the lady in question is an utter nincompoop. That does make it "not much of a competition." But she's also pretty repulsive, as her quoted comments indicate. Do you not see that?
1.22.2007 5:59pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
Absolutely I see that.

Which is why I don't understand the celebratory delight. It wasn't a hard won battle; why act like it was?

You have the right to defend the Holocaust or Hitler under American law, we all know; there aren't many people who want to exercise this freedom here, we all know that too, I hope. Abroad, those who would argue in such a way cheapen any real discussion about Israel's current policies. Those who do so play into the hands of their opponents, you might say, who no doubt would love to continue scoring such easy wins without having to break a sweat and engage in perhaps larger, more encompassing arguments. Anti Hitler and the Holocaust -- that's a tried and true victory, taking candy from a baby. Right?
1.22.2007 6:06pm
j..:
ReVonna, I don't think this is really a language issue. I don't think one can read the complaint fairly and come to that conclusions.

Anisa Abd el Fattah seems to quickly see things in terms of groups of Jews, rather than specific individuals or organizations. For example, "Jewish people raise a fuss." Or, in the complaint, going out of her way to define AIPAC as "better known as the 'Jewish lobby'".

Some how, by page 3, Ralph Nadar is brought into the picture, as an article on consumer groups and congressional testimony is cited. I'm not sure why, but then that paragraph ends with the sentence "leading to what Ralph Nader has identified as a deceptive public record on the issues of US Muslims and Arabs and terrorism." Huh? If he did, the article Anisa Abd el Fattah doesn't describe it.

We then, after a digression into Mearsheimer/Walt, move to what I assume is the Al-Arian trial. Somehow, despite a protracted government prosecution, this turns into the fault of "Jewish groups".

There really isn't much to the story here other than at least one person viewing the world as us against them and twisting what she can until she sees that.
1.22.2007 6:08pm
Houston Lawyer:
If the woman were a mere KKK acolyte, no one would bother noting what she wrote. Fortunately, the KKK is a spent force now attracting only those who bask in notoriety. CAIR and its minions desire to impose Sharia on the rest of us and are trying to use our legal system to that end. The publication of her letter and the subsequent ridicule of her position serve a larger purpose.
1.22.2007 6:17pm
Fub:
Anisa Abd el Fattah wrote, quoted by EV above:
Every time any such statement is publicized, in whatever context, Jewish people raise a fuss, and the speaker is ordained, an "anti-Semite," in an effort to deny their right to free speech by making the price of such speech so high that it wont be utilized.
Oh dear! Oh me! Oh my! Looks like they ain't makin' Jews like Jesus anymore!

The horror! The horror!
1.22.2007 6:18pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
CAIR and its minions desire to impose Sharia on the rest of us and are trying to use our legal system to that end.

Speaking of easy targets ...
1.22.2007 6:26pm
John (mail):
Sadly, what Anisa Abd el Fattah says will be repeated and BELIEVED by countless dopes all over the place. These people will become more hardened in their hatreds (of guess who).

It makes me wonder whether we ought to rethink our devotion to free speech. Europe has not fallen into the sea by restricting speech on the Holocaust.
1.22.2007 6:34pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I'm not sure that I see the point of Ms. Laschatze's admonition not to celebrate victory too triumphantly. To begin with, I don't see anybody dancing on the grave of the enemy. The celebration seems pretty restrained to me. Secondly, even if the celebration were overmuch, why raise that here? If you don't like the style of a blog, don't read it. Or do you mean to argue that although Anisa Abd el Fattah is not a good debater, the position she advocates is stronger than it seems? If the latter, which the comments about the language of the complaint suggests, this is nothing but innuendo. If the argument really is stronger, why don't you explain why you think it is? I suspect that that will be hard, for two reasons: (a) the argument that most of what AAF wants is ultra vires is ironclad, and the argument that that is as it should be is also very strong; (b) the underlying premise of her complaint, that positions critical of Arabs and Muslims are untenable and based on falsehoods, is one that neither she nor others who make such claims have been successful at defending. What she really doesn't like is the fact that people are critical of Islam as it in fact is, not that they utter falsehoods about it.
1.22.2007 6:44pm
Michael N. (mail):
It is strange how many people equate criticism of their speech with censorship, and therefore believe that the First Amendment guarantees them the right to say whatever they want free from the negative comments of others.

I know the irony has not been lost on anyone here, but it is still astounding: Anisa Abd el Fatta supports the right to say the most noxious and hateful of things without others (in particular, the "Jewish lobby") "rais[ing] a fuss"; while at the same time she asks the government to suppress speech she dislikes (from the "Jewish lobby").

There is a certain internal consistency in her point I suppose (in both species of her argument, the voices of the "Jewish lobby" are to be repressed), but her view point is certainly not consistent with the First Amendment.
1.22.2007 6:56pm
JohnAnnArbor (www):
Wow. That woman is full of deep, deep hatred.
1.22.2007 6:59pm
Whistle:












Open debate and reasoned response usually serves the development of law and public policy very well. Done well, they should stop any of the nonsense that CAIR is trying to impose. If CAIR is a supporter of terrorism, I would like a broader response, but I have no evidence that it is any more than a debate club for bigots.

If our country has enough people, perhaps including President Carter, who will be a part of a reasoned debate, the likes of CAIR will fade into the dust pan of history whether or not they change their minds about anything.

Is there anybody who has taken the time to analyze Jimmy Carter's work in public debate? It is for responses to more sophisticated, and legitimate work like that I love to log in to websites like this one.

My hope is that without much violence or a substantially larger war, the progeny of people like Anisa Abd el Fattah will be punk rockers, poets, libertarians and patriots in free and open societies. A step to that end is the response to this bigot's attempt at debate.

Call me an idealist, but some reasoned debate could even drag backwards fascist into an Enlightenment era that opens the Middle East to freedom and ends their conflicts with the West. Of course, the most sophisticated of their leaders probably realize this as they spew hate and abuse the freedoms we enjoy.
1.22.2007 7:02pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
Anisa Abd el Fattah: wotta maroon, as Bugs Bunny so eloquently puts it.

Ah, the wisdom of the Looney Tunes; couldn'ta said it better myself.

Not exactly clear on what counts as an "academician" these days (didn't David Duke claim to be one, recently?) but it's pretty much my sense that a large chunk, (if not a majority) of the folks in this country, over the last 50 years or so, who've "argue[d] . . . robustly for the right of people to have free speech rights to deny the holocaust, or to compliment Hitler, or to say that Israel should be wiped off the map" were "Jewish academicians", in some sense or other.

Notably, some of them were also those same members of the "American left" who "made the conscience decision to invite Islamofascists like Anisa Abd el Fattah into this country".


If I recall, the invitation was engraved, on egg-shell white laid paper....
1.22.2007 7:14pm
Ken Arromdee:
It makes me wonder whether we ought to rethink our devotion to free speech. Europe has not fallen into the sea by restricting speech on the Holocaust.

On the contrary. Europe is using laws meant to ban anti-Holocaust speech to squelch the public debate on immigration from Muslim countries.
1.22.2007 7:17pm
The Original TS (mail):
Donaldk2: Has your experience been that good kicks in the ass are effective at persuading the kickee to change her views, or the public speech she engages in? More importantly (since my goal here is to persuade the public, not the person I'm criticizing), have you found that observers who see you kick the speaker's ass end up being better disposed to your views?

Exactly right. The point of a debate like this is not to convice the person you're debating but to convince those who are listening. I doubt seriously if AAF would admit to getting the point even if she did. Kudos, Eugene, for fighting the good fight!
1.22.2007 7:18pm
Russ (mail):
Professor Volokh,

This woman is intellectually vapid and unworthy of your contempt, much less your time. As soon as most people hear what she has to say, they pretty quickly laugh and shake their heads.

Then they go back to dealing with people who matter, for this woman certainly does not.
1.22.2007 7:22pm
ajwpip (mail):
In debate one way to win is to hurl enough bad argument at the other side that they become swamped and tired of refuting the inane and redundant. We should cheer anyone who musters the energy to respond to the unending storm of crap that has been hurled at the enlightenment ideals America was founded on. I feel like folks like Volokh are quite outnumbered and that we all may lose in the end not because others muster better arguments but by sheer volume. Quantity has a quality all its own.
1.22.2007 7:52pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
We should cheer anyone who musters the energy to respond to the unending storm of crap that has been hurled at the enlightenment ideals America was founded on.

But not so loudly that we don't recognize a truly hard fought, and won, argument against a worth opponent. There's a reason nobody gets too excited when they realize they've beaten the Detroit Lions, say.
1.22.2007 8:02pm
Vinny (mail):
If our country has enough people, perhaps including President Carter, who will be a part of a reasoned debate, the likes of CAIR will fade into the dust pan of history whether or not they change their minds about anything.

Carter doesn't sound like a good choice for the possibility. More likely that Israel would fade into the dust pan behind his position.
1.22.2007 8:04pm
SoCalJustice (mail):
Plus, she's obviously she's not a native English speaker


Unfortunately, that's untrue. She can't claim that as an excuse.

She's an American-born convert to Islam, orignally named Caroline Keeble.

She used to work for the United Association of Studies and Research (UASR), - a Hamas front, formerly headed by Ahmed Yousef, who left the U.S. a while back and is now Ismail Haniyah's (yes, the Hamas leader - what a coincidence) "senior political advisor."
1.22.2007 8:17pm
SoCalJustice (mail):
Whoops, this should be the link for "http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=uasr+marzook+" in the post above.

It's people who point these sorts of facts out that worry Ms. Keeble/Fattah so much, and are clearly, as such, "Islamophobes," hostile to Islam, anti-Arab, etc., etc.
1.22.2007 8:22pm
Toby:

This woman is intellectually vapid and unworthy of your contempt, much less your time. As soon as most people hear what she has to say, they pretty quickly laugh and shake their heads.

I disagree. For too long, especially on campuses across America, people have nodded and smiled and gone on. Others, either through ignorance or bad will, have accepted that lack of debate as assent, or perhaps as "one opinion among many in a world in which there is not truth, only many perspectives." Isn't diversity wonderfull?

A society that is silence during public lies, accepts those lies.
1.22.2007 8:24pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Bill Poser, the loosening of immigration laws after World War II was named the McCarran Act. McCarran was anything but a leftist.

For the record.

As for the despicable Anisa, she needs to be slapped down and ridiculed and made to seem to everyone else (even if she'll never get it herself) a menace to our society.

I agree with Charles Johnson's assessment of CAIR and its allies, that in fact their goal is to create a sharia state in America and that their method is to probe and test and pry and establish exceptions to our fundamental laws and practices, until one day we wake up and find ourselves in a hollow society.

Not everybody buys that assessment, but I do. El Fattah fits that pattern exactly. That she is evidently a Jew-hater is interesting but beside the point.

Lawyers, especially, ought to be alert to even the slightest, feeblest attempts to make them irrelevant, for economic reasons if no other.

All that said, there are more infidel opponents of free speech and proponents of hate speech laws than Muslim opponents. So far, anyhow.
1.22.2007 8:26pm
DWPittelli (mail):
On the issue of debating an evil idiot: one should respond to an idiot who's getting attention, and not respond if the debate will give the idiot's position more attention than she would have got otherwise.

I'm not sure how that balances out in this case (private email to Volokh, but her people have publicly asked the Justice Department for action).

Simpler version: "Never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty and the pig enjoys it" -- I like the metaphor; no doubt it will be a hate crime soon.
1.22.2007 9:16pm
Marvin (mail) (www):
Hmmm...Raise a fuss equals lawsuit...

Yes, people 'raise a fuss' about those folks who think Hitler was a good person, but that is not filing lawsuits or filing a complaint with the Justice Department asking it to "take the steps necessary to end" various "practices," apparently including "statements made that may reach the level of hate speech," "various organizations['] and individuals['] ... provid[ing] misleading and highly politicized information,"
1.22.2007 9:23pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
On the issue of debating an evil idiot ...
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
You see, the Jews have had experience with this kind of thing.
1.22.2007 9:33pm
magoo (mail):
"Mr. magoo — I don't see how Mr. Volokh's efforts at persuasion are undermined by the statements of commenters. Au contraire, I find his refusal to bowdlerize to be part and parcel of his efforts at persuasion: y'know, the principle of free speech."

Matt — Let me begin by saying that I'm very pleased that Eugene has now condemned the post. To answer your question, the website has a civility policy. If threats of physical violence are tolerated, readers are left to conclude either (1) the poster is too busy to notice and react to the comment, a right expressly reserved in the comment policy, or (2) the poster wasn't terribly troubled by the comment. Possiblity 1 seems a bit strained in this case given the amount of time spent on this exchange and the level of detail attained in the various postings. I'm not the only commenter who asked to have this threat of violence expunged (see the original thread). Given that this is the most popular and visited legal blog (for good reason), I would argue that the commenters have a special responsibility to ensure that it does not reflect poorly on lawyers generally. Threats of physical violence are utterly antithetical to the law; they shouldn't be casually ignored by blawgers.
1.22.2007 10:41pm
CodeMike (mail) (www):
Oh yes, poor Muslims who can't openly agitate for genocide and totalitarianism without lively disagreement. How dare we disturb their echo chamber?! We need to learn our place as mere kuffar!!
1.22.2007 10:54pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Harry Eager, you mean the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952. The McCarran Act is the Internal Security Act of 1950. There was indeed a left-right aspect, of a sort. Although the McCarran-Walter Act eliminated the racial restrictions of previous legislation and in some ways liberalized US immigration, it retained restrictions on immigrants from some countries and gave preference to certain ethnic groups. It was for this reason that it was vetoed by President Truman, who found such restrictions offensive. So although there was a net liberalization, there was somewhat of a left-right split with the right favoring greater restrictions and in particular with the right advocating ethnic discrimination.

This is not, by the way, to absolve the left of racism. Earlier in the 19th century much of the left favored restrictions on immigration, especially by Asians. The socialist labor unions played a significant role in the restriction of immigration from Asia because they considered Asians cheap competition.
1.22.2007 11:41pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I'm not sure where Al Fattah comes from; I don't know if she was raised in the West or in an Islamic nation. However, in the event she hails from an Islamic nation, it's worth considering the prevailing misunderstanding of the First Amendment.

I lived in Saudi Arabia for ten years, and I never once met a Saudi who had an understanding of what we mean by freedom of speech. The concept appeared to be culturally incomprehensible, and when explained they usually considered it silly and told me I must be wrong. They expect the authorities to stiffle speech generally considered damaging. It was the duty of the ruler to protect people from such speech. Lies have no rights.

Now, these weren't academics or the cultural missions trotted out to meet visiting dignitaries; they were ordinary people. Freedom of speech is just a completely foreign concept. When explained in very simple terms, they reject the explanation because no people could be so stupid as to allow lies to be freely spread. These are intelligent people, and I never really figured out how to get the concept across.

What so many Americans take for granted, and even the very comprehension of free speech, is a challenge to convey to other cultures.

I'm certainly not an apologist for Al Fattah. I simply recognize that the task of persuasion is far more difficult that we might think.

This is a case where the diversity folks are right; there really is a cultural difference in basic understanding of concepts.
1.22.2007 11:46pm
Elliot123 (mail):
UPDATE:

I just saw the post saying Al Fattah is a native born American. In that case, she has no excuse.
1.22.2007 11:50pm
Eric Anondson (mail):
I just saw the post saying Al Fattah is a native born American. In that case, she has no excuse.

Except the rather good one that she was likely educated by the American school system.
1.23.2007 12:08am
AnandaG:
Elliot123, I've met plenty of Americans who also don't understand freedom of speech. My boss once explained to me that the government was perfectly justified in restricting political speech in advance of an election, in order to stop candidates from spreading lies about one another.
1.23.2007 12:16am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
We really need a better term than "anti-semitic" for anti-Jewish. While Hebrew is a Semitic language, so is Arabic, and the average Moslem Arab has a lot more Semitic blood than the average Jew does in this country (if there is such a thing - since the term Semitic seems to be more language based than genetic based). This is because the Arabs mostly stayed where they were over the last 3000 years, while the Jews spread out across Europe and into Asia and Africa and intermarried a bit with the indiginous populations.
1.23.2007 5:02am
Caliban Darklock (www):
Somebody has to say this.

It's possible to wipe Israel off the map simply by redrawing its borders and naming it something else.

Now, wiping Israel off the PLANET, that's a whole different thing. But the map is not the planet. The map is a set of arbitrary political borders. In the case of Israel, those borders were drawn to create a bone that could be thrown to the Jews, so they would stop barking about the holocaust.

It was decidedly wrong for the world to do this, and it was decidedly wrong for us to accept it. HaShem would not approve. We could, at the very least, pretend to care about this massive insult to the Islamic people. But we don't, so they're mad at us, and we have the chutzpah to act surprised.

Hell, I'm still wondering why we weren't offended by the offer. Were we too stupid to know what was happening, or just too greedy to care?
1.23.2007 8:33am
Mongoose388:
Did she mention that the current plot of "24" is an obvious attempt to smear the reputation of peace loving Muslims everywhere and is orchestrated by the Jewish media cabal? Maybe, in her next rambling diatribe....
1.23.2007 9:06am
markm (mail):

Are there are a lot of people who have nothing against Jews but compliment a man who is remembered for (among other things) deliberately arranging the slaughter of six million Jews?

You could start that list with the Spanish dictator Franco (put in power by Hitler), and probably add Mussolini. However, as common as non-anti-semitic fascists were while Hitler was winning, those that still admire Hitler after he was defeated and killed himself very often seem to start by agreeing with him about Jews.
1.23.2007 10:13am
Yankev (mail):
We really need a better term than "anti-semitic" for anti-Jewish. While Hebrew is a Semitic language, so is Arabic, and the average Moslem Arab has a lot more Semitic blood than the average Jew does in this country (if there is such a thing - since the term Semitic seems to be more language based than genetic based).

Technically true, Bruce, but the term was coined by a 19th century German hater of Jews, was Wilhelm Marrih, who wanted to distinguish that hatred -- which he considered scientifically based and historically justified - - from other forms of ethnic hatred, which might be condemned as backward or unscientific. The equivocation has been used to good effect in recent years by apologists for Nazis and for those among the Arab and Muslim poplulation who share their aims or beliefs, which illustrates your point -- the term can be manipulated to obscure its meaning. It was never intended or understood to mean anything other than hatred directed specifically toward Jews.
1.23.2007 10:56am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Caliban: "Somebody has to say this."

No, you are wrong. You should really refrain from it. No good wil come from revealing your inner Taliban.
1.23.2007 2:24pm
A.C.:
Not to bring up old news, but what about those Danish cartoons? At the time, many Muslims were arguing for GOVERNMENT censorship to prevent their publication. Lots of people seemed to go along with that, arguing that the cartoons should be suppressed to avoid stirring up trouble.

Lots more argued for voluntary self-restraint on the part of publications who wanted to reprint them, again to help prevent violence. The actions of those who were stirring up the violence were seldom questioned, as I recall.

I don't think any American public officials argued for government censorship, but plenty argued for self-censorship. My question is this -- what would happen if the same event occurred again? Has criticism of Islamic violence become more respectable among upscale Americans? How about among Europeans? I sense that both groups have become less interested in "political correctness" in the past year, at least where Islam is concerned. CAIR may have missed its moment.
1.23.2007 2:29pm
MichaelF (mail):
Yo, Teach - is it too late for me to join the vast Conspiracy to which you are obviously a party?

You know the one. The conspiracy to uphold the 1st Amendment. Can I join? Please?
1.23.2007 8:05pm