Cliff May

Just hours after the papers landed on doorsteps, the Powerline blog’s John Hinderaker was asking why the Times had not bothered to compare the murder rate among veterans to the murder rate for young American men generally. Hinderaker and others crunched the numbers themselves and found the murder rate much higher for young men who stayed home. Columnist Ralph Peters estimates that recent war vets are about one-fifth as likely to be implicated in a homicide as the average 18- to 34-year-old man.

In what other hearts does the Oxford Union spirit dwell? A group of Muslim scholars recently wrote a letter to Christian leaders asserting the need for “peace and justice” between these two great religious communities. Good for them. But the Christian leaders responded with a letter asking “forgiveness” for Christian sins against Muslims “in the past (e.g. in the Crusades) and in the present (e.g. in excesses of the ‘war on terror’).” Note the quotes around that last phrase. Note that sins committed by extremist Muslims against Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and moderate Muslims were not mentioned.

At the Oxford Union, there was, at least, respect for freedom of speech. In Canada, today, by contrast, Orwellian “human rights commissioners” are persecuting Mark Steyn, author of “America Alone,” for simply arguing that Western civilization is worth defending and for predicting that, if current trends continue, Europe will soon be Arab- and Islamic-dominated. Such ideas, Steyn’s critics charge, “promote ill will” toward Muslims and must be punished.

Also summoned by government commissioners – commissars? -- was Canadian publisher Ezra Levant who dared to re-print Danish cartoons lampooning Islamist terrorism. Levant stood up to the Grand Inquisitors, saying: “We have a heritage of free speech that we inherited from Great Britain that goes back to the year 1215 and the Magna Carta. We have a heritage of eight hundred years of British common law protection for speech, augmented by 250 years of common law in Canada.”

Yes, but there also is the tradition of the Oxford Union circa 1933. And right now it is not certain which tradition will prevail.


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.