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Silencing Savage

- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 11, 2009

Freedom of speech is under assault. Michael Savage, America's third-most popular radio talk show host, is being assaulted.

Earlier this year, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government placed Mr. Savage on a "least wanted" list, banning the fiery conservative from entering the United Kingdom. His name appeared beside those of Islamist extremists (including a Hamas terrorist), Russian skinheads who murdered more than 10 immigrants and neo-Nazi white supremacists. According to British officials, Mr. Savage poses a potential "threat" to public safety by inciting "hatred" and "inter-community violence."

This week the Cambridge Union, one of Britain's most prestigious debating societies, revoked its invitation to have Mr. Savage participate via video link in a panel on political correctness. The society has canceled the Oct. 15 event. In a letter to the radio host, the group cited "numerous legal issues" regarding his participation in the debate.

The Cambridge Union should be ashamed of itself. Mr. Savage rightly believes that it succumbed to political pressure from Mr. Brown's liberal-left government. In fact, e-mails have publicly emerged revealing that senior British officials - many of them with ties to the prime minister's office - placed Mr. Savage on the blacklist in order to provide "balance" alongside numerous radical Muslims. In short, Mr. Savage was sacrificed on the altar of multicultural diversity.

Britain's ban on Mr. Savage is a fundamental assault on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It is not only a political witch hunt that seeks to smear and slander his reputation. It poses a direct threat to his very safety. Mr. Savage has been living with a giant target on his back; the British government's claim that he is an Islamophobe only encourages deranged Muslim militants to possibly commit acts of violence against him and his family - including murder. It is a license for jihad.

Moreover, Mr. Savage has never advocated, incited or supported violence against any minority or racial group. He is not some far right-wing, neo-fascist. Rather, he is a traditionalist conservative who champions limited government, low taxes, Judeo-Christian values and winning the war against Islamic terrorism.

Unlike many other conservative radio hosts, however, Mr. Savage is not a globalist but a nationalist. His triumvirate values are "borders, language and culture." He is opposed to bureaucratic corporatism, open borders and free trade. Instead, he advances populist policies that are despised by the political and media class - enforcing our porous southern border, deporting criminal immigrants, rejecting amnesty for illegal immigrants, protecting our national sovereignty and distinct cultural identity, and reversing America's dwindling manufacturing base.

The ban on Mr. Savage is an effort by Britain's leftist elite to de-legitimize and criminalize conservative thought. It is a naked attempt to muzzle and censor the speech of an individual, who routinely engages in intellectual combat - the free, open and often raucous exchange of ideas - on the airwaves.

It is also a cowardly attempt to appease Britain's growing Muslim lobby. For years, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been seeking to get Mr. Savage yanked off the air - going so far as to organize an advertising boycott of his show. CAIR is a virulently anti-Israel, anti-American organization that routinely defends Islamists and suspected terrorists. It has targeted Mr. Savage because of his bold calls to confront the rising tide of radical Islam.

Like-minded organizations in Britain have taken a page from CAIR's playbook, demonizing the radio host as a religious bigot and racist. Yet, if the British authorities were truly serious about curbing extremism, then they would look closer to home. From Manchester to East London, Islamic militants are openly calling for the imposition of Shariah law.

Anjem Choudary, a Muslim fundamentalist preacher and leader of the Islamist organization al-Muhajiroun, is a case in point. In June 2009 in London's Red Lion Square, Mr. Choudary predicted that Britain would be absorbed into the Islamic global caliphate.

"This country is rife with social and economic problems and only Islam has the answer. Muslims are multiplying at a rate eight times faster than the kaffir [infidel]," he said in a speech to al-Muhajiroun's members. "In a couple of generations this will be a Muslim country, inshallah [if Allah wills it]. We will dominate this country, my brothers, and implement the beauty and perfection of Islam."

The crowd responded with cries of "God is great" and "Shariah for the UK." Mr. Choudary may be a fanatic, but the demographics are on his side.

By 2050, one-third of Britain's - and most of Europe's - population will consist of immigrants. The proportion of Muslims will be even higher due to soaring birthrates and conversion. Britain - like France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy - currently has a seething, young and largely unassimilated Muslim population. Those numbers will only grow.

Islamic fundamentalism is taking root in the land of Shakespeare and the Magna Carta; already, England has more than 85 courts that adhere to Shariah. London is slowly being transformed into "Londonistan."

Britain's answer is to silence the likes of Mr. Savage, hoping this will placate the growing monster within its midst. It will not work. It will only whet the limitless appetite of the radical Islamists who hunger for imperial expansion and cultural domination.

Conservatives - of all stripes - should rally in defense of Mr. Savage's right to speak freely. His struggle is our struggle. If we abandon him now, we risk eventually jeopardizing our very own sacred freedoms.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington-based think tank.