War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us

Icon for censorship
Icon for censorship (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On July 28, London’s Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, aka “the Old Bailey,” announced the conviction of Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary on charges of “inviting support for a proscribed organization” (the Islamic State). He’ll be sentenced, likely to a long stint in prison, in September.

On August 18, social networking service Twitter announced that it has suspended 360,000 user accounts since mid-2015 — 235,000 of them just since February — for “promoting extremism.” While Twitter is theoretically a private sector entity, the New York Times reports that the company’s actions are motivated by “intensifying pressure on Twitter and other technology companies from the White House, presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and government agencies.”

The United Kingdom is back in the business of holding political prisoners on a scale not seen since before the 1997 ceasefire in occupied … er, “Northern” … Ireland, and American social networks are handing the US government de facto power to censor Internet communications. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s easy to look the other way and whistle when the roundups target people like Choudary and the censorship is aimed at a particular variety of “extremism” enjoying little support in the UK or the US apart from small groups within insular communities.

First they came for the Islamists …

It’s easy not to notice that the terrorists who “hate us for our freedoms” chalk up a win each time those freedoms are diminished, openly or surreptitiously, in the name of fighting terrorism.

It became necessary to destroy the Constitution in order to save it …

We are told the west is at war. That much is true. But the central front in that war isn’t Iraq or Syria or Libya, nor is the enemy the Islamic State. “Daesh” is a gnat in a hurricane, empowered solely by western forces toppling secular regimes and creating power vacuums in which it can set up shop.

The real central front is the west itself and the real enemy is the western governments transforming themselves into totalitarian regimes before our eyes.

Every time an Anjem Choudary is imprisoned, or a Twitter account is shut down for “extremism,” or a beachfront town in France bans “burkinis,” the west looks less like the cradle of the Enlightenment and more like the Soviet Union circa 1937 or Germany circa 1939.

The best weapon against bad ideas is better ideas, not censorship and political imprisonment. Don’t let London or Washington wrest that weapon from us.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Also published on Medium.

  • Very true. But you overlooked one glaring point, Thomas: Just as much censorship and pressure towards censorship is coming from major corporations, banking interests, the elitists behind them, as well as many highly influential and/or rich individuals who, for whatever varied reasons and interests, believe censorship is desirable. The circular revolving-door relationship which allows these influencers to have vastly disproportionate sway over the governments is also a two-way feedback loop which allows governments to use their contacts, pull, regulations, “oversight”, and personal relationships with major business and company interests to continue taking away more and more of our liberty, including the most basic no-compromise liberties like free expression which is furthermore the basis for all free inquiry, philosophy, even basic science and medicine and agriculture, etc., upon which our very lives and survival depend.

  • “But when Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the state over religion”

    I have yet to hear of a region where Muslims are a significant portion of the population that they believe that religion and religious precepts should be strictly voluntary for those that subscribe. I have family members that are Jehovah’s Witnesses, their beliefs seem pretty simply to only apply to subscribers of that belief system. I have yet to hear about people of the Jewish faith imposing their rules on non-members (but I don’t live in Israel so I could easily be missing information). Communists and socialists that do not seek to impose their rules on others are also quite rare in my personal observations.

    It’s a wonder that England simply doesn’t banish the guy and hold an auction to the various governments of the world for “Who wants to have this guy?” I would love to note the bidders in such an auction.

    I am thankful that we both live in a country where you are able to advocate against the imprisonment of Anjem Choudary. I hope that I can continue to be thankful for a very long time.

    Down with the political and military bulls that tread heavily upon the people of the East. People are wondrous creations that should not be broken except in the most trying and immediate of circumstances.

    • Thane,

      “I have yet to hear of a region where Muslims are a significant portion of the population that they believe that religion and religious precepts should be strictly voluntary for those that subscribe”

      I have yet to hear of any region where any adherents of any religious belief are a significant portion of the population that those adherents don’t try to involuntarily impose their religion and/or its precepts on everyone.

      The idea that it shouldn’t be that way is a comparatively young and still not very thoroughly implemented one.