GAFFNEY: Free speech, but not for me?

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COMMENTARY:

Paul Krugman’s outrage is selective and aimed, as usual, at conservatives.

I was surprised to see the New York Times columnist take a swipe at me and the paper that has long been my home. Since Frank Rich, another New York Times columnist, and numerous bloggers have all written essentially the same thing as Mr. Krugman, it is obvious that a new line of attack against conservatives is emerging. It needs to be stopped in its tracks.

In a column called “The Big Hate,” Mr. Krugman seized upon two unrelated shootings in different cities - of a Kansas abortionist and a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum guard in Washington - to contend outrageously that disaffected conservatives and Iraq war veterans may pose a public threat.

Mr. Krugman faulted the leading lights of the conservative media for fostering a climate of alienation and anger. He castigated Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck, charging them with “mainstreaming right-wing extremism.” Talk radio’s Rush Limbaugh “peddles conspiracy theories” on Planet Krugman.

To this list of alleged extremist-enablers, Mr. Krugman added The Washington Times, noting that it “saw fit to run an opinion piece declaring that President Obama not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself and that in any case he has ‘aligned himself’ with the radical Muslim Brotherhood.” The unnamed author was yours truly.

Let me be clear. The nature and religious context of Mr. Obama’s relationship with his Creator is, as far as I am concerned, the man’s own business. Religious tests for holding public office in this country went out around the time of the Salem witch trials, and I don’t want them to come back.

Mr. Obama’s policies, however, are fair game for criticism. If the president singles out for special treatment any faith or seeks, whether wittingly or not, to advance the agenda of its most intolerant practitioners, that is decidedly our business.

Indeed, one would think Mr. Krugman and his friends would be the first to defend the rights of such critics. After all, Mr. Krugman’s cohort on the left and its media echo chamber endlessly assailed President George W. Bush’s policies. They also routinely engaged in the most aggressive and inflammatory personal attacks on the president and his subordinates. Remember “Bush lied; people died”? Charging a chief executive with deliberately prevaricating and, consequently, with responsibility for the deaths of untold numbers of innocents surely would qualify as the mainstreaming of left-wing extremist views.

Where, for that matter, is Mr. Krugman’s outrage about the fact that MSNBC has made a cottage industry of hiring virulent Bush-haters and promoting their conspiracy theories about Mr. Bush’s imperial and unconstitutional ambitions? How about the prevailing Hollywood meme that our 43rd president was a fascist guilty of war crimes - in comparison with which actor Jon Voight’s contention that Mr. Obama is a “false prophet,” which merited a Krugman denunciation, is pretty tame stuff. Did Mr. Krugman ever object to the “opinion pieces” of his New York Times colleague Maureen Dowd, whose serial character assassinations of senior U.S. officials would, by any objective measure, be examples of, in his words, “the media establishment joining hands with the lunatic fringe”?

In addition to selective outrage, Mr. Krugman is given to selective quotation. He ignores the evidence I cite showing an uncanny similarity between some of the language and policies of the president and of Muslim Brotherhood.

In my column, I identified a number of instances in which Mr. Obama’s policies track with this agenda. These include his promise in his Cairo speech to “fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear”; to ensure that Muslim women in America can cover their heads, including, presumably, when they are having their photographs taken for driver’s licenses; and to permit the Muslim practice of tithing known as zakat, even though Islamic “charities” have been convicted of using this practice as a cover for money-laundering and material support for terrorism.

Islamists are thrilled by the president’s “tough love” campaign against Israel. They have every reason to believe the concessions now being demanded of the Jewish state will no more require Arab reciprocity in the future than has been the case in the past.

One could add to this worrying list Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s announcement following the president’s Cairo speech. Mr. Holder promised “a return to robust civil rights enforcement and outreach in defending religious freedoms,” with a view to “using criminal and civil rights laws to protect Muslim Americans.” Radical Muslims have proved adept at using such rights to thwart legitimate surveillance and other countermeasures by law enforcement.

It is not extremism to observe that these Obama initiatives could have very far-reaching and negative implications for the United States, its society and security. It is extremism to hold that all critics of the president should be shunned into silence.

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