Karen Lugo

Having participated in numerous community events aimed at combating Islamists trying to limit free speech, I am convinced we will only protect speech rights in this country if we have the help of patriotic American Muslims. There are several reasons for this, but chief among these is the fact that, rather than mounting a principled defense of foundational liberties, American reporters, city officials, school board members and county supervisors usually default to anything that looks like a tolerant and multicultural negotiation.

Though it is a short-term fix, local politicians and media commentators consistently opt for the incremental compromise that may restrict freedom just a bit because it mollifies a complainant. Therefore, when up against politically activist groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), it is critical to have the voice of allied American Muslims endorsing unfettered speech and equal rights. This exposes the aggrieved Muslim political action groups as tacticians simply looking for excuses to claim offense while working to gain one more ounce of veto power over criticism of Islamist activity.

A recent example is that of Orange (CA) Councilman Jon Dumitru, who posted a Sept. 11-related comment on his Facebook wall talking about Muslims and the World Trade Center attack. CAIR’s swift demand for an official apology for “falsely linking Islam to 9/11 attacks” went to the entire city council and followed what Dumitru describes as an ambush conference call in which more than a dozen reporters waited on the line as a Los Angeles CAIR official asked Dumitru to defend his comments.

The Orange City Council duly placed an item on the next meeting’s agenda to consider a formal response to CAIR’s complaint. The public session that evening must have impressed both the council members and CAIR as vigilant community members presented mostly thoughtful and organized comments on the dangers of allowing any group to restrict speech according to arbitrary and subjective standards. CAIR and the many politically driven Islamist organizations know that if free and open debate is incrementally limited - and squelched - our only effective tool to define and defend our culture will be lost.

Karen Lugo

Karen Lugo is the Founder of the Libertas-West Project and a co-director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.