One cannot tell the truth or venture one’s opinion about Islam or about Muslim behaviors without risking being slandered, heckled, censored, sued, impoverished, physically attacked, and, more rarely, murdered.
And that’s for those of us lucky enough to be living in the free West. What happens to dissident and feminist thinkers and writers in Muslim-majority countries is far worse; their bravery continues to inspire me at a very dark moment in history.
The Western punishments are as follows:
One loses one’s left, liberal, and feminist friends. One is not invited to their parties, funerals, or conferences. One is not invited to lecture. One’s past contribution is written out of their history. Meanwhile, one is forced to debate vicious liars and propagandists in order to be “heard” at all. One is shouted out of classrooms and lecture halls or forced to speak under hostile, tense, oppressive, and potentially dangerous working conditions. One requires bodyguards on campus.
In short, hate speech and delusions of appeasement have, increasingly, appropriated for themselves all the rights and privileges of free speech in the West and, in the United States, the protection of the First Amendment. Truth goes begging and truth-tellers are sued. They are not funded by the Saudi (Wahabi-Salafist) Lobby which has funded Middle East Studies programs, conferences, and scholars all over Europe and North America, nor are they funded or supported by the Iranian Axis of Evil (Syria, North Korea, Hezbollah, and Gaza’s Hamas, which has just joined with the West Bank’s Fatah in a national unity government.)
But there is also good news.
Earlier this week, Hans Erling Jensen wrote and called to inform me that he and Kurt Westergaard, the Danish Mohammed cartoonist, have just established The Westergaard Foundation to “support free speech” and to fundraise for truth-tellers whose reputations and incomes have suffered because they have dared to tell the truth about Islam. As he explained his ideas, I said: “You want to establish an economic base for those of us who are publishing samizdat, who, as thinkers and writers, have been sent to the gulag.” “Exactly,” he said.
Well, this new foundation has arrived, and not a moment too soon. I first discovered this myself in 2003 when I had to be hustled out for my own safety during a lecture. I had already begun to write and speak about Jew hatred, the demonization of Israel as the new anti-Semitism, and of course, about Islamic gender and religious apartheid and jihad.
Like many others, I have been mocked, ostracized, and slandered for my continued work in these areas. I have lost friends and colleagues. I have also lost publishers as well as lecture opportunities — in short, I have been economically “fined” for my work. Here are only two among hundreds of examples.
A book that I published in 2005, The Death of Feminism, documents the way in which Islamic gender apartheid has penetrated the West. My American-based publisher had me work very closely with a First Amendment lawyer, full-time, for a solid month, almost around the clock. He was entirely satisfied — but the British-parent company still chose not to risk publication in the UK.
Not a single European publisher has translated this (dare I say) very powerful and still relevant book.
Just today, I received word that the Europe-based editor of many of my previous books, who is now at another publishing house, had rejected this work which had been hand-carried to him by a mutual friend. He said that the work was too “pro-Israel, not critical enough,” and that it failed to condemn the Sharansky vision of universal human rights which President Bush presumably relied upon. In other words, this German editor is still suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome.
Anyway, he lied to our mutual friend. The book barely touches upon anti-Semitism and Israel. Its main focus is on Islamic gender apartheid and on the western feminist failure to take a strong stand against it and on behalf of universal human rights.
I am among the lucky ones. I still have many (mainly conservative) internet outlets for my writing and modest funding for my research. I have not been sued or death-threatened. I do not have to publish under an assumed name. I do not live with bodyguards. I do not live in hiding. But Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist, does. And now he wants to reach out to help other writers and artists.
According to Hans Jensen:
The fund is based on the idea that freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy, crucial to a dynamic dialogue and development of society. [It is a] fund for artists and other creative people who are suffering from violence or persecution because of their expressions….The nominees will all be people who have shown the courage to stand up against oppression. People who for example through poems, movies, by painting, singing, in theatrical or other artistic creativity showed persistence to remain true to their beliefs notwithstanding violence, prosecution, death threats, etc.
Who are these amazing Danes, these wonderful Scandinavians?
In 2004, Lars Hedegaard founded The Danish Free Press Society. The Society went international in 2009. One of their activities has been to give an award every year to a journalist who “combines excellence in his/her work with courage and a refusal to compromise.” To date, these awards, called Sappho Awards, have been given to Flemming Rose (2007), Kurt Westergaard (2008), Melanie Phillips (2009), Mark Steyn (2010), and Rachel Ehrenfeld (2011).
Rose published Westergaard’s Mohammed cartoons in the Jyllands-Posten; subsequently, Westergaard and Rose were nearly assassinated. Ever since, Rose and Westergaard have required bodyguards. Their alleged crime was really committed by Islamists who slipped their own more offensive cartoons into the mix in order to incite anti-infidel riots.
In 1996, Phillips received the (British) Orwell Prize, and in 2003, she received the (British) Islamic Human Rights Commission’s award as “The Most Islamophobic Media Personality of the Year.”
In 2007, Steyn and Ehrenfeld were forced to legally defend themselves because of their work about Islam. Both triumphed after very costly struggles. Ehrenfeld obtained legislation protecting authors in both New York State (2008) and in the United States (2010).
Something has been specifically rotten in Denmark for quite a while. For example, two Danish heroes, Lars Hedegaard and Jesper Langballe, were accused of hate speech. What hateful speech did Langballe utter? He exposed honor killings among Muslims and was actually convicted for doing so. According to Ahmed Mohamud, the Vice President of The Danish Free Press Society, and Katrine Winkel Holm, Chief Editor of Sappho, the Society’s magazine:
In the past year, the Danish public prosecutor has been waging a lawfare offensive against outspoken critics of Islam and Muslim practices. On December 3, 2010, Member of Parliament Jesper Langballe was convicted of ‘hate speech’ – or as the judge in the lower court of Randers put it: ‘racial discrimination’ – for having called attention to honour killings in Muslim families.
And what exactly was Lars Hedegaard’s crime?
“His crime has been to point to the great number of family rapes in areas dominated by Muslim culture. This well documented fact has brought him an indictment under the Danish penal code’s ‘racism’ clause…”
According to Mohamud and Winkel Holm, both MP Langballe and Lars Hedegaard long ago “emphasised that they did not intend to accuse all Muslims or even the majority of Muslims of such crimes. This made no impression on the public prosecutor. We fear that the public prosecutor intends to stifle open debate on Islam and Muslim culture. And we fear that he is doing so with the tacit approval of the governing parties, which first signalled their intention to remove the racism clause from the penal code but have recently recanted.”
This new initiative by Westergaard and Jensen joins the precious handful of individual philanthropists and anti-Islamist/pro-Israel think tanks and website which are attempting to support truth-tellers. If we do not fund the truth in the war of ideas we will lose the war. Thus far, those who believe in such Enlightenment values as universal human rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, separation of religion and state, human rights, women’s rights, gay rights, have lost this war because the warriors have not only not been funded, they have also been economically and socially penalized. Some have been impoverished. The enemies of truth are powerful, organized, and wealthy and have been funding disinformation campaigns on every continent.
If we do not tell the truth and if we do not recognize those who are truth-tellers, we will lose the ability to distinguish between the truth and a lie, and between good and evil.
But there is more good news. For the longest time, my work (2003-2010) appeared in Scandinavia, mainly in Norway, in English, at the online website Human Rights Service. In 2010, the American author, Bruce Bawer and his Norwegian colleagues, Hege Storhaug and Rita Karlsen, were accused of “racism” and “Islamophobia” by Norwegian leftists and Islamists; in June, 2010, the Norwegian government de-funded their excellent online website which publishes work about Islam and women’s rights. Their online publication is still going strong, but their ability to pay their writers has been fatefully compromised for the moment. Hege Storhaug has been tracking the Islamification of Europe in general, and most specifically, the plight of Muslim women immigrants and the epidemic of honor killings in Europe. Storhaug has published an important book, just translated into English, But the Greatest of These Is Freedom: The Consequences of Immigration in Europe. Of course, I plan to read and review it.
Now, in our conversation this week, Hans Erling Jensen told me that Lars Hedegaard has just published a new book, Muhammad’s Girls: Violence, Murder and Rape in the House of Islam, in which he mentions my work “quite a lot.” Well, I am pleased and honored — indeed thrilled to have my work acknowledged in Denmark by such major heroes.
© 2011 Phyllis Chesler. This article was originally posted on NewsReal Blog’s website. Cross-posted with permission.
Related: Activism, Europe, Extremists, Feminism, Human Rights, Islam, Media/Blogsphere, Political Correctness, War Against Islamo-fascism