Chilling the unwilling

Joel Mowbray in the Washington Times notes the string of legal actions brought by Islamist organizations nationwide to stifle criticism, including criticism of their connections with terrorists. Mowbray focuses in particular on the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB). This outfit somehow obtained a sweetheart deal with the city of Boston enabling it to purchase nearly two acres of prime real estate for $175,000, less than half of what the city appraised it at, and perhaps one-tenth of its real value. According to Mowbray, when local Boston media outlets started looking into the deal, they found that ISB was connected with high-profile radical Muslims, and that its longtime leader was a co-founder of a virulently anti-American and anti-Semitic organization that apparently raised cash to support Islamic terrorism. When these connections were reported, ISB responded with a lawsuit. One of the defendants is the well-known expert on terrorism, Steven Emerson.
Mowbray considers ISB’s case “flimsy,” but notes that it still may be costly to defend. For that reason, lawsuits like this one can chill legitimate criticism of Islamic radicals in the U.S. who preach hatred of the west and its values.
On the other hand, you sometimes wonder whether the Islamic radicals need to go to the trouble of suing. There’s plenty of evidence that the MSM has little desire to criticize Islamic radicals or to acknowledge the existence or source of their radicalism. For example, Diana West (also writing in today’s Washington Times) points out that the MSM declined to report the statement of Father Joseph D. Fessio, SJ, that his friend and former teacher, Pope Benedict XVI, believes Islam to be incapable of reform because “in the Islamic tradition, God has given his word to Mohammed [and] its an eternal word” leaving no possibility of reinterpreting the Koran.
Now it’s possible that the Pope doesn’t actually believe this. It’s also possible that the Pope believes it, but is wrong. Finally, it’s possible that the Pope is correct as a matter of theology, but that as a practical matter Islam will prove compatible with reform. Nonetheless, the Pope knows a thing or two about theology, and if he’s right that Islam is incapable of change then the prospect that, in West’s words, it can be propelled into “happy co-existence with modernity” shrinks considerably. Yet, it seems that not a single mainstream media outlet took notice of the report on the Pope’s view.
I don’t attribute this to fear of lawsuits.


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