Webinar Podcast: Free Speech Infringements in Michigan

The United West, June 22, 2018:

Free Speech Infringements in Michigan:  Islamist Censorship – Its Roots, Purpose & Role in the 2018 Michigan Governor’s Race

Deborah Weiss, Esq., is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Security Policy where she specializes in free speech and terrorism-related issues. She is considered an expert on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, CAIR and Islamist censorship. She is the author of several books, including The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Jihad on Free Speechand her recently released book titled, Islamist Influence in Hollywood.

Krauthammer Wisdom on Immigration – Build the Wall

We will miss Charles Krautmammer’s calm, reasoned political analysis.

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oe Raedle | Getty Image

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Switzerland Welcomes Radicalization

Gatestone Institute, by Judith Bergman, 

  • There are approximately 250 mosques in Switzerland, but the authorities do not know who finances them. By rejecting the proposal compelling mosques to disclose who finances them, the Swiss authorities can now remain willfully blind.
  • The Muslim World League is behind “a whole network of radically-oriented mosques in Switzerland… with the clear intention of spreading Salafist thought here”. — Saïda Keller-Messahli, expert on Islam in Switzerland.
  • Above all, the Swiss government seems not to have considered the rights of Swiss non-Muslim citizens, who are the ones left to live with the consequences of the government’s ill-thought-out policies.

Switzerland has just rejected a proposed law preventing mosques from accepting money from abroad, and compelling them to declare where their financial backing comes from and for what purpose the money will be used. According to the proposal, imams also would have been obliged to preach in one of the Swiss national languages.

While the proposal narrowly passed in the lower house of parliament already in September 2017, the upper house recently rejected it. The proposal was modeled on regulations in Austria, where already in 2015, a law banning foreign funding of religious groups was passed. The Austrian law aims to counter extremism by requiring imams to speak German, prohibiting foreign funding for mosques, imams and Muslim organizations in Austria, and stressing the precedence of Austrian law over Islamic sharia law for Muslims living in the country.

The Federal Council, which constitutes the federal government of Switzerland, was also against the proposal, and claimed that it constituted ‘discrimination’: “We must not discriminate against Muslim communities and imams and put them under general suspicion,” Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said. The Federal Council noted that in Austria, Islam is officially recognized, whereas it is not in Switzerland. According to the Swiss government, therefore, the model applied in Austria does not apply to Switzerland, as “One cannot demand obligations without rights”. Instead, the Federal Council evidently believes that the risks posed by extremist Islamist preachers and communities can be combated within existing law.

There are approximately 250 mosques in Switzerland, but the authorities do not know who finances them. The authorities have no jurisdiction to collect data on the financing of Muslim associations and mosques apart from exceptional cases in which internal security is threatened. By rejecting the proposal compelling mosques to disclose who finances them, the Swiss authorities can now remain willfully blind.

Several experts have pointed out the foreign Muslim networks at work in Switzerland. In 2016, Reinhard Schulze, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Bern, pointed out that donations from the Muslim World League, based in Saudi Arabia, and other funds from Saudi Arabia were flowing to “those mosques and organizations that are open to the Wahhabi tradition”. Another expert on Islam in Switzerland, Saïda Keller-Messahli, has spoken and writtenwidely on how “Huge sums of money from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Turkey are flowing to Switzerland”, and how the Saudi-based Muslim World League is behind “a whole network of radically-oriented mosques in Switzerland… with the clear intention of spreading Salafist thought here”.

In addition to the Salafist influence, there are an estimated 35 Turkish mosques, financed by Turkey’s official Religious Affairs Directorate, known as Diyanet. (Previous reports have mentioned 70 Turkish mosques in Switzerland).

According to a report published by Diyanet in 2017, Islam is “superior” to Christianity and Judaism and “Interfaith dialogue is unacceptable”. Turkey supports the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist off-shoot Hamas.

In fact, the building of another Turkish mosque was just given the go-ahead in the Swiss town Schaffhausen. The people behind it reportedly claim that the 1.5 million Swiss francs (approx. $1.5 million) will be collected locally, and not from Turkey, but the imams for the mosque will nevertheless be sent from Turkey.

None of these facts, however, appears to bother the Swiss government, which seems to want to continue the flow of foreign funding of mosques and Islamic centers into the country.

Above all, the Swiss government seems not to have considered the rights of Swiss non-Muslim citizens, who are the ones left to live with the consequences of the government’s ill-thought-out policies.

One such consequence was recently on display in Swiss courts, as three board members of the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ISSC) were on trial for charges of having produced illegal propaganda for al-Qaeda and related organizations. One of them, Naim Cherni, was given a suspended prison sentence of 20 months for publishing an interview he conducted with Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Muhaysini in Syria in 2015, in which al-Muhaysini called on young Muslims in Europe to join the jihad. The two other board members, chairman Nicolas Blancho and Qaasim Illi, were acquitted.

In contrast to Switzerland, Austria recently announced plans to shut down seven mosques and expelling up to 60 imams belonging to the Turkish-Islamic Union for Cultural and Social Cooperation in Austria (ATIB), a Muslim group close to the Turkish government, on the grounds of receiving foreign funding.

The response from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman was that the policy was part of an “Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory wave” in Austria.

The strong message that the Swiss government is sending to those Muslim states and organizations that are fueling radicalization in Switzerland by funding Salafist, Turkish and other radical mosques, is that they are welcome to continue doing so; the Swiss government has no intention of stopping them, let alone asking any unpleasant questions. It might as well put up a sign, saying, “Radicalization Welcome”.

(Switzerland photo by Monk/Wikimedia Commons)

Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

45% increase in terror attacks across Europe

Tribute to the victims of the Manchester bombing – Photo Credits: lonndubh / shutterstock.com

Voice of  Europe, June 21, 2018:

Frightening figures were released on Wednesday by the EU police agency, Europol, as part of its terrorism report. The number of attacks in 2017 rose by a massive 45 percent compared to 2016 figures.

The number of terrorist attacks increased from 142 in 2016 to 205 in 2017. Last year 68 people were killed and 844 injured. In 2016, 142 people were killed, but fewer than half were injured, with 379 victims.

That there were only half as many deaths is down to the fact that attackers are ‘less organised’ than previously and also due to emergency services prompt intervention.

Of the 68 deaths in 2017, 62 were attributed to Islamists. By far the most attempted or actual attacks were again in the UK, followed by France.

The report was published Wednesday and presented in The Hague.

The data refers consistently to attacks that have been carried out, thwarted and failed, said the new Europol director, Catherine de Bolle and Manuel Navarrete, head of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC).

47 Groups Weighing SPLC Lawsuit Warn ‘Editors, CEOs’: ‘You Are Complicit’ in Hate Group ‘Defamation’

Southern Poverty Law Center Hate Map

PJ Media, June 20, 2018:

On Wednesday, no fewer than 47 nonprofit leaders maligned by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) — many if not most of whom are considering a lawsuit against the organization — warned a vast array of executives and leaders that if they parrot the SPLC’s damaging “hate group” labels, they would be “complicit” in “defamation.”

“Editors, CEOs, shareholders and consumers alike are on notice: anyone relying upon and repeating its misrepresentations is complicit in the SPLC’s harmful defamation of large numbers of American citizens who, like the undersigned, have been vilified simply for working to protect our country and freedoms,” the signatories wrote.

The letter followed news — broken at PJ Media — that no fewer than 60 organizations are considering suing the SPLC following a groundbreaking settlement in which the organization formally apologized to a Muslim reformer, Maajid Nawaz, for branding him an “anti-Muslim extremist.”

In 2016, the SPLC published its “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists,” listing Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz, a practicing Muslim, as one such extremist. The left-wing group listed various and changing reasons for including him, even at one point mentioning that he had gone to a strip club for his bachelor party. On Monday, the SPLC apologized and paid $3.375 million to settle a lawsuit Nawaz had filed.

“We haven’t filed anything against the SPLC, but I think a number of organizations have been considering filing lawsuits against the SPLC because they have been doing to a lot of organizations exactly what they did to Maajid Nawaz,” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told PJ Media on Tuesday.

Representatives of the Family Research Council (FRC), the Ruth Institute, and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) told PJ Media they were considering “legal options.”

Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit against the charity navigation organization GuideStar for defamation after GuideStar adopted the SPLC’s “hate group” list. That lawsuit is ongoing.

Staver further told PJ Media, “There are probably about 60 organizations that we’re talking to — there’s at least 60.”

The letter published Wednesday featured roughly the same list of groups that denounced the SPLC’s “hate list” in an open letter to the media last year. The SPLC has admitted that its “hate group” list is based on “opinion.”

Worse, in 2012, a terrorist broke into the Family Research Council (FRC) with a semi-automatic pistol, aiming to kill everyone in the building. In later FBI testimony, he admitted to targeting FRC because it was on the SPLC’s “hate map,” and that he intended to shoot up other organizations once he finished there.

The letter’s legal threat should be abundantly clear. Ken Cuccinelli, former attorney general of Virginia, signed the letter, as did PJ Media’s J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. Michael P. Farris, president, CEO, and general counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), represents an organization that has won eight Supreme Court cases in the past seven years.

“We, the undersigned, are among the organizations, groups and individuals that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has maligned, defamed and otherwise harmed by falsely describing as ‘haters,’ ‘bigots,’ ‘Islamophobes’ and/or other groundless epithets,” the signatories declared. “We are gratified that the SPLC has today formally acknowledged that it has engaged in such misrepresentations.”

The out-of-court settlement with Nawaz was formally announced Wednesday, and the signatories mentioned it as “tangible proof that the SPLC, which amounts to little more than a leftist instrument of political warfare against those with whom it disagrees, fully deserves the infamy it has lately earned.”

“Journalists who uncritically parrot or cite the SPLC’s unfounded characterizations of those it reviles do a profound disservice to their audiences,” the signatories wrote.

Some might argue — like Reason‘s Robby Soave — that suits against the SPLC are a threat to free speech. In an interview with PJ Media, DJKM spokesman John Rabe explained that the SPLC  has “supplied government and law enforcement with their information.” Given the 2012 attack and SPLC’s work with the government, “it’s no longer a free speech issue, there’s a substantive issue with these false and slanderous claims that the SPLC makes.”

“Slander and malice are never protected,” and such factors loom large in litigation. Rabe argued that DJKM and other organizations suing the SPLC should win partially because the left-wing group has a documented malice against these groups.

The threat to journalists should be taken particularly seriously, as CNN uncritically shared the SPLC “hate map” last year, and outlets like ABC News and NBC Newsuncritically marked ADF a “hate group” using the SPLC label.

The threat to CEOs extends to various companies — like Google and Amazon — that use the “hate list” to marginalize certain groups online. Large companies have also partnered with the SPLC in other ways. Apple pledged $1 million to the organization, along with other key benefits, while J.P. Morgan chipped in $500,000. Companies like Lyft and MGM Resorts have partnered with the group, while Pfizer, Bank of America, and Newman’s Own have each contributed over $8,900 to the SPLC in recent years.

The scope of this potential lawsuit is hard to determine, and the threat is real. News outlets, companies, and organizations that champion the SPLC’s “hate list” should be quaking in their boots.

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The IG Report Should End Mueller’s Obstruction Investigation

Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill in 2013. (Reuters file photo: Yuri Gripas)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, June 21, 2018:

The same logic that spared FBI and Justice Department officials harsher treatment in Michael Horowitz’s report should inoculate the president.

While generally cautious about criticizing Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the Clinton-emails investigation, Trump supporters have taken aim at its chief logical flaw: Although key investigators harbored anti-Trump and pro-Clinton bias, and even made statements indicating an intention to act on that bias, the IG did not find that this bias was the proximate cause of any particular investigative decision.

This conclusion is easy to rebut; I did so myself in a column last week. Yet, the Trump camp should also be embracing it. Why? Because if this is the Justice Department’s position, then Special Counsel Robert Mueller has no business investigating the president for obstruction.

The IG’s rationale has been vulnerable to attack because of the way it has been distorted by FBI director Christopher Wray and congressional Democrats. They blithely assert that the IG found no bias in the FBI’s decision-making. That claim insults our intelligence.

The report documents a surfeit of political animus. Chapter Twelve, in which the IG marshals text messages and other recorded communications between investigators, is breathtaking. The report does not say that the investigators’ manifest loathing of Trump, their expressed intent to derail his presidential bid, and their desire to bring about his impeachment were irrelevant. It says that (a) because there were legitimate policy considerations that could have informed every one of their investigative decisions, and (b) because, as a matter of law, the FBI and Justice Department have broad discretion to make such judgment calls, (c) it is not the IG’s place to second-guess those decisions.

In other words, if there were plausible legitimate grounds to support a discretionary investigative call, the IG must give investigators the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they acted on those legitimate grounds. Given that this is surely the Justice Department’s position, it should pull the plug, forthwith, on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s obstruction investigation of President Trump.

While Mueller was ostensibly assigned to conduct the Russia counterintelligence investigation (i.e., the probe of the Kremlin’s cyberespionage operation against the 2016 election), his appointment by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was triggered by the president’s firing of FBI director James Comey on May 9, 2017. That firing induced Comey to leak to the media his memo about a meeting with Trump four months earlier (on February 14), in which Comey says Trump leaned on him to drop any criminal investigation of Michael Flynn, the former national-security adviser whom Trump had fired the previous day.

To that point in time, Trump had repeatedly been assured by Comey that he was not a suspect in the Russia probe. Thus, to the extent that Trump became a subject of a Justice Department investigation when Mueller took over, it was on the theory that the president had potentially obstructed justice by (1) firing Comey (on the theory that this impeded the FBI’s Russia investigation) and (2) weighing in on whether Flynn should be investigated (on the theory that Flynn was a Trump political ally and a potential witness against him in the Russia probe).

I have argued from the start that Mueller’s appointment was illegitimate, because Rosenstein did not comply with federal regulations, which, among other things, do not provide for appointment of a special counsel to conduct a counterintelligence investigation. More saliently for present purposes, I have also contended that the obstruction investigation is illegitimate because the president undeniably has the constitutional authority to remove the FBI director (he does not need a reason) and to exercise prosecutorial discretion by opining on the merits of an investigation (since the Constitution makes prosecutorial discretion a unilaterally executive power).

The logic of the IG’s report gets us to exactly this position, albeit by a slightly different route.

Mueller would apparently circumvent the president’s constitutional defense through an untenable theory of corrupt intent. That is, the special counsel would posit that if the president takes a lawful action for an arguably corrupt purpose, he can be accused of obstruction. We have countered that this is specious. There is no doubt that a president can legitimately be accused of obstruction based on clearly criminal actions (e.g., witness tampering — see: the Nixon and Clinton impeachment proceedings). But if a president’s actions are lawful on their face, it is not the place of a subordinate executive officer, such as a prosecutor, to question the chief executive’s motives — especially under circumstances in which the president does not need any reason to take the action at issue.

In essence, IG Horowitz is saying the same thing in his report.

The IG finds abundant evidence of corrupt motivation on behalf of the officials who were running the Clinton-emails investigation. And there is a plausible theory — indeed, a very persuasive one — that a corrupt motive (viz., political bias) drove the decision-making: The investigators wanted Clinton to win the election and feared a Trump presidency, so they tanked a solid criminal case against Clinton, then turned their dedicated attention to framing Trump as a traitor based on such “evidence” as the Clinton-campaign-generated Steele dossier.

Nevertheless, Horowitz reasons that the law and Justice Department policy do not permit such a conclusion. The FBI and the Justice Department have broad executive discretion to decide whether charges should be filed, what investigative avenues to pursue, and which investigative techniques should be used. Even if they could have had corrupt motives, the IG says the Justice Department must assume law-enforcement officials exercised their broad discretion legitimately as long as it is possible that valid, non-corrupt reasons supported their decisions — e.g., a belief that precedent did not support charging Clinton with an Espionage Act offense; a belief that granting immunity rather than charging an accomplice with lying to the FBI was a better investigative approach; a belief that consenting to limit their examination of evidence in order to get quick access to it was more prudent than issuing a subpoena that might have resulted in time-consuming litigation.

So, let’s compare. President Trump clearly has broader executive discretion than the FBI and the Justice Department. He is the executive; their powers are limited by their subordinate status and the fact that they are created and heavily regulated by statute. It is incontestable, moreover, that the president had abundant legitimate reasons to fire Comey and to weigh in on whether Flynn merited investigation.

As Horowitz points out, when we are evaluating a discretionary judgment call, the question is not whether we agree with it, or whether it was right or wrong. What matters is whether it was rational. Horowitz’s own report finds major faults with Comey’s performance as director; in this, it echoes Rosenstein’s memorandum written at the time of Comey’s dismissal.

As for Flynn, let’s assume the truth of Comey’s post-dismissal claim that Trump pressured him — even though, just days before being fired, and four months after he discussed Flynn with Trump, the former director testified that he had never had the experience of being pressured to drop an investigation for political reasons. It was nevertheless perfectly reasonable for the president to request (no one has ever claimed that Trump issued an order) that the Flynn investigation be dropped. Flynn had just been fired the previous day; after a distinguished career of combat service to the United States, he had been laid low: removed from a coveted high-level position, with his professional and financial prospects dimmed. Flynn, moreover, should never have been investigated as a criminal suspect; the same Justice Department that would not bring Espionage Act charges against Clinton despite daunting evidence zeroed in on him based on the absurd, never-prosecuted Logan Act. His contacts with the Russian ambassador were proper, and the FBI agents who interviewed him did not believe he lied to them. It was entirely rational, then, for Trump to conclude that Flynn had already suffered enough, and that additional investigation would have been overkill. You can argue that it was unwise for the president to have expressed this opinion, but there was nothing unlawful about it.

The evidence that Trump was corruptly motivated in his actions on Comey and Flynn is scant compared to the evidence that investigators were corruptly motivated in the Clinton-emails probe. And again, Trump’s constitutional discretion to make executive judgments is considerably broader than that of the Justice Department and the FBI.

Consequently, under the rationale adopted by the IG with the implicit endorsement of the Justice Department, there is no basis for a prosecutor to investigate the president for obstruction. Even if it were the special counsel’s place to analyze the chief executive’s motivation in exercising his constitutional prerogatives (and it is not), there were patently legitimate reasons to support the president’s actions; in light of his broad discretion, the Justice Department must assume he acted on them.

So the obstruction investigation should be closed. Should Special Counsel Mueller fail to close it, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein ought to be summoned by Congress to testify, specifically on this question: If the Justice Department accepts IG Horowitz’s premise that it must not second-guess the discretionary decision-making of FBI and Department officials when there are legitimate grounds to support their decisions, on what basis may a special counsel second-guess the president’s decision-making when — as Rosenstein himself has argued with respect to Comey — there are legitimate grounds to support the president’s decisions?

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The Folly of Multiculturalism

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Rev. Margaret Cave, Dean of Coventry John Witcombe and Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Association of Great Britain Ibrahim Mogra at the start of the Coexist march at the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, London. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

PJ Media, by Raymond Ibrahim, June 19, 2018:

Exactly how beneficial to a society is multiculturalism, this word that is so celebrated in the West?

First one must first define the word: It is “the view that cultures, races, and ethnicities, particularly those of minority groups, deserve special acknowledgement of their differences within a dominant political culture.”

Note the immediate inaccuracies within this standard definition. “Races,” which indicate a people’s innate physical makeup, are conflated with “cultures” — which are neither innate nor physical, but learned and metaphysical.

This mix-up explains why for many in the West, the word “culture” often conjures at most physical, surface differences — “exotic” food or dress. In reality, cultures are nothing less than entire and distinct worldviews with their own unique sets of right and wrongs, often rooted in a religion or philosophy. Cultures bring much more than, say, the convenience of having Indian cuisine down the street.

As Anglo-French historian Hilaire Belloc once explained it:

Cultures spring from religions; ultimately the vital force which maintains any culture is its philosophy, its attitude toward the universe; the decay of a religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it — we see that most clearly in the breakdown of Christendom today.

Put differently, all values prized by the modern West — religious freedom, tolerance, humanism, gender equality, monogamy — did not develop in a vacuum but rather are inextricably rooted to Judeo-Christian principles which, over the course of some 2,000 years, have had a profound influence on Western epistemology, society and, of course, culture.

While they are now taken for granted and seen as “universal” virtues, it’s not for nothing that these values were born and nourished in Western — not Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, or pagan — nations.

All this is missed by those ignorant of the spiritual and intellectual roots of Western civilization. This is, incidentally, why growing numbers of Western people arrogantly see themselves as the culmination of all human history and culture — “enlightened” thinkers who have left all cultural and religious baggage behind — and are thus convinced that cultures offer only minor, or superficial differences (always to be “celebrated”). They embrace notions of relativism and multiculturalism, the idea that all religions and cultures are at most “skin deep,” or more subtly, that they are destined to develop like the West, which is no longer seen as a distinct culture but rather the end point of all cultures.

In other words, if the boons of Western civilization are not a distinct product of Judeo-Christian principles, then they must be standard for and appreciable to all civilizations.

The folly of such thinking is especially on display in the context of Islam and Muslims, who in this new paradigm are seen as embryonic Westerners. Whatever a Muslim may say — calls for jihad, hate for infidels — surely deep down inside he values “secularism,” and appreciates the need to practice Islam privately, respect religious freedom, gender equality, and so on. Thus is he made “in our image” (except, of course, we forget the roots of “our image”).

Overlooked is that the Muslim has his own unique and ancient worldview and set of principles — his own culture — which in turn prompt behavior that is deemed “radical” by Western standards (falsely assumed to be “universal” standards).

Portraying what at root is a Christian paradigm as “universal,” and then applying it to an alien culture like Islam, is doomed to failure. The idea that Muslims can be true to their religion and yet naturally fit into Western society is false. The idea is built on an equally false premise: that Christianity somehow also had to moderate itself to fit into a secular society. In fact, Christian principles, which are so alien to Islam, were fundamental to the creation of the West.

Returning to the initial confusion, that cultures are often conflated with race, it bears stressing that being wary or critical of multiculturalism is in no way the same thing as being wary or critical of other races or ethnicities (that is, “racism”) but rather being wary of disunity. After all, racially homogenous but culturally heterogeneous nations are much more fractured than the reverse. One need look no further than to the United States, where “leftist” and “rightist” whites often abhor one another (as was on regular display during the last presidential election). Or look to the Middle East, where Muslims and Christians are racially, ethnically, and linguistically homogenous, but where the former are ruthlessly persecuting the latter, exclusively over religion.

In short, there’s nothing wrong and much to be celebrated if a nation’s citizenry is composed of every race and ethnicity — but only if they share the same worldview, the same priorities, the same ethics, the same rights and wrongs — in a word, the same culture. Then it will be a strong and healthy nation, perfectly capturing the meaning of E pluribus unum.