Amsterdam: Redefining freedom of speech

Until now the debate has been about whether freedom of speech includes the right to insult somebody else. According to the Amsterdam municipality insulting somebody else is in itself on impingement on freedom of speech.

The city of Amsterdam has developed teaching material warning children against the politics of Geert Wilders, newspaper De Telegraaf yesterday reported. Wilders calls the campaign "sickening".

The newspaper quoted from a letter that the city council has sent to three hundred primary and secondary schools in Amsterdam. Primary school heads believe that the letter is intended to anticipate the anti-Islam film that Wilders, MP and leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV), intends to release in March.

The letter, which the newspaper claims is intended as teaching material, contains cartoons of Wilders, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and a white family that wants nothing to do with a polite Islamic boy. The text reads: 'If you say bad things about someone, they will feel hurt. They may not dare to say anything in return, because they are afraid of being hurt even more. Then there is not much left of freedom of speech,' according to De Telegraaf.

The Amsterdam council, which is dominated by Labour (PvdA), concludes the pamphlet with the words, 'Unfortunately there are politicians who think they will become more popular by being extremely negative about certain groups of people. They think you should be able to say anything, even if it is hurtful. But this does not make things very pleasant in the Netherlands, as before you know it, they are setting one against the other'.

A spokesman for the Amsterdam city council stated that the message did not only refer to Wilders' opinions. Moreover, the 'teaching letter' also calls on pupils to talk to each other and respect each other's views, the spokesman pointed out.

Wilders responded indignantly to the letter. "Sickening. Leaflets like this should not be subsidised. The contents are prejudiced and inaccurate. If you decide to do this, then write about the cowardice of the PvdA and the multicultural drama as well."

Source: NIS News (English)

See also: Dumpert (Dutch)

1 comment:

Gary Fouse said...

This is a posting I wrote last May. I would like to share it with you.

I work part-time at the University of California at Irvine as a teacher of English as a Second Language. All in all, it is a very pleasant place to work. The academic focus of the university is science, pre-med and engineering. I don't know the numbers, but I would estimate that at least half of the student body is composed of Asian-Americans. At the risk of stereotyping, these kids know why they are in school-to get an education and prepare themselves for a successful career. They seem to enjoy their college experience and cause no problems on our campus. Indeed, UCI has, over the years, avoided much of the craziness that has characterized so many other universities around the nation, where left-wing politics and anti-Americanism abound.

Unfortunately, in recent years, UCI has been experiencing considerable tension between Jewish and Muslim students, principally over the issue of Israel and the Palestinians. While it is understandable that these two groups would have differing opinions on the issue, recent activities by the Muslim Students Union (MSU) have taken on not only an anti-Israel tone, but an anti-American one as well.

No other issue at UCI has caused more political demonstrations and friction than the Israel-Palestinian one. What is troubling is that the UCI Muslim Student Union has consistently invited inflammatory speakers to campus,such as the Imam Amir Abdel Malik Ali, who regularly makes anti-Semitic (Jewish), and anti-American comments in his addresses. On at least one occasion that I can speak of from my own eye-witness account, Malik Ali's appearance was advertised by MSU banners with such headings as: "Racism-The American Creed". On another occasion last year, the MSU disrupted a speech by writer, Daniel Pipes, who was giving an address on campus on Muslim terrorism. As they marched outside the auditorium to continue their demonstration outside, demonstrators were overheard to state that while they were using only words, their brethren in the Middle East were acting in deeds. (I am paraphrasing.)

Another radical speaker who has appeared at UCI is Washington DC-based Imam, Abdul Alim Musa, a former Oakland heroin dealer who converted to Islam in prison. He predicts that Islam will one day take over America. Like Malik Ali, Musa believes that suicide bombers are "heroes".

During the past week, the MSU held an anti-Israel week marked by a series of rallies, in which speakers such as Malik Ali and the loony America-hating Colorado University professor, Ward Churchhill appeared. Not only was Israel bashed, but our own country as well. One of my fellow teachers was walking by the activities on Thursday (May 17th) when she almost bumped into a demonstrator with his face covered by an Arabic scarf holding a poster reading: "Death to Israel- Death to America".

This is what they call free speech on American universities campuses. Proclaiming death to America on our own soil! And what is the reaction of our university adminstrators? This is free speech. They also maintain that-in spite of Jewish students' complaints of harassment and intimidation- that UCI is safe for Jewish students and everyone elso as well. The leadership of this university needs to wake up before we experience a tragedy on our campus.

In the midst of all this, the Orange County Register reported last week on an on-campus confrontation between a Muslim demonstrator and an apparent FBI surveillance agent leading to questions as to whether the FBI was actively investigating the MSU's activities.

What the MSU does not seem to grasp is that the American public-at least since 9-11- is asking itself about the true nature of Islam and the attitudes of our Muslim Americans-in other words, are they trully pro-American in the face of this Islamic terrorist movement-or are in they in sympathy with the "Jihadists"? While not attempting to stigmatize all Muslim-Americans in this regard, scenes like those that occur at UCI are leading many to drew negative conclusions.

I can understand why Muslim-Americans may not share the historical American sympathy for Israel. I am certainly no expert on Middle East history and politics, and I can well imagine that Israel's hands are not 100% clean vis-a vis the Palestinian issue. I am sure that Palestinians have legitimite grievances. But in the face of 9-11 and the clearly-stated desire of Muslim radicals to destroy our country, our way of life and our people, demonstrations of the sort that are occurring at UCI are sending a very troubling message to the rest of us.

As for me, I don't know if the FBI is investigating the MSU or not- but I sure hope so.

gary fouse
Orange County, Calif usa