- - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Political correctness is radical Islam’s best friend, because it causes the otherwise brave people to cower from speaking the truth and instead walk on eggshells.

Twelve people were executed in France for drawing offensive cartoons and since then there has been a lot of blaming. Freedom of speech is at the heart of this. How we speak, what we can and can’t say without fear of being persecuted, executed or shamed is the issue. These arguments are leading people into strange alliances.

Recently, on “Hannity” on Fox News, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League blamed Charlie Hebdo editors for causing their own deaths by what they published. He made the connection that there are consequences to things we say. Donohue was emboldened by this comment from Pope Francis: “If someone says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch in the nose…it’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

The leader of one of the most powerful religions in the history of the world is advocating censorship? Cue Joan Rivers’s ghost… …a priest, a rabbi, and an evangelical walk into a bar. Making fun of religion is a top 1% job for some people. Mocking deeply held beliefs may bother millions of people, but it is a vital part of freedom.

Bill Donohue and the Pope are inadvertently aiding the enemies of freedom and creating strange bedfellows. Both men earn their wealth being politically provocative. They speak with passion to their followers who love them or hate them and mostly dislike each other. No love is misplaced between HBO’s Bill Maher and Hannity, but this issue unites them. Maher said in a recent interview that “Opinions should not be illegal — not even those belonging to someone like Rush Limbaugh. So anyone trying to campaign for Limbaugh’s silence cannot call themselves a proper liberal. You don’t get free speech, you’re just a baby who can’t stand to live in a world where you hear things that upset you.”

Hannity and Maher are joined by their strong belief and respect for the freedom of speech that the Framers gifted us. They would fight passionately for each other’s right to contradict. There is freedom in that.

That is why statements that give rise to censorship are so wrong. Most people are against censorship. Political correctness doesn’t care that policing the statements of others is censorship. It’s one of the most insidious movements to ever raise its ugly head because it gives cover to censorship.

The idea that we cannot mock the prophet Muhammad or his radical followers is ridiculous and should unite every civilized person on the planet. The dangerous part of the terrorist movement is that it is borderless and violent.  We’ve seen throughout history evil dictators who couldn’t take a joke or stand to be laughed at. They slaughtered all voices against them. From Stalin to Kim Jung Un, thin skinned zealots murdered brave, witty folks for centuries. Radical Islamism now reaches around the globe with social media and incite physical attacks in lone wolf missions anywhere, and anytime. Stakes are raised, and can cause a twinge of fear to enter the hearts of bloggers, writers, and cartoonists from Paris to Peoria.

As a writer and commentator on world affairs, I can tell you that fear of violent reaction has the ability to change what any writer says. Will this be the statement that sends a lone wolf jihadi after me or other writers? Delete it and live on in peace, or print it and walk bravely down the street ready for battle. That is the world we live in. I say if so, bring it on punk.

A friend can make fun of the Pope’s funny hat all day long and not worry that someone might show up at his office with a gun. Jews can be ridiculed mercilessly and it’s frowned upon, but no AK-47’s are triggered. Evangelicals can be laughed at too by some - …no big deal. No mass slaughter ever happens. But make fun of Muhammad and you trigger steel savagery. The Charlie Hebdo people were on a top ten better off dead list amongst the radical Islamists. Did it stop them from drawing edgy cartoons insulting Muhammad?

The Hebdo cartoonists are martyrs of freedom. They died for their beliefs in free speech. They did not turn away from their right to be politically incorrect. The new editor of Charlie Hebdo, Gerard Biard, said, “Every time that we draw a cartoon of Muhammad, every time that we draw a cartoon of a prophet, every time that we draw a cartoon of God, we defend the freedom of religion.”

In the aftermath of their slaughter, some people, like Bill Donohue and the Pope, think the cartoonists might have reaped what they deserved. But political correctness will be the death of all things that make us free. Bold people must speak the truth and risk themselves because their silence only provides a victory to the cultists hellbent on stopping true freedom.

People of the civilized world must say no to walking on eggshells around radical Islam and beyond. Bloggers - tell it like it is. Cartoonists - draw what you want. Businessmen, politicians,  columnists and anyone in between…call it like you see it. Political correctness and radical Islam will not be defeated by shrinking back. Speak boldly, and crack those eggs.

Eric Schiffer is CEO of Digitalmarketing.com and the chairman of ReputationManagementConsultants.com.

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