One might wonder why Fox News and Sean Hannity continue to give airtime to ridiculous radical Muslims like Anjem Choudary, but the inevitable drama is apparently too juicy to resist. There were fireworks on Thursday night when Choudary appeared on Hannity’s show to debate Pamela Geller, the host of the Muslim cartoon contest that inspired the Garland terror attack last weekend. With Geller and Hannity on one side and Choudary on the other, it wasn’t long before the fur started to fly.
Hannity asked Choudary if he supported ISIS calling for Geller’s “slaughter.” Choudary hedged, saying that Geller knew what she was getting into when she chose to engage in blasphemy. He insisted that many Muslims considered blasphemy an offense worthy of death, leading Hannity to yell back, “You want her to die!”
Choudary didn’t exactly deny this. He said it was appropriate that Geller be brought up on charges and punished under sharia law. Geller said it was ridiculous to blame her for the shooting in Garland or for the fatwa that followed. Not much in the way of constructive conversation followed; the debate evolved into a shouting match, ending with Hannity deriding frequent guest Choudary as “evil.”
Choudary is as much a figure of spectacle as he is a true Islamic radical – if there is a Muslim equivalent of Al Sharpton, he might well fit the bill. But the truth is that his version of reality is not far off from what many Muslims believe. Scarier still, his idea that Geller is the one to condemn in the wake of the Garland incident is one that a great many liberals can get behind. More has been written in the last week about the limits of free speech than about the scourge of radical Islam.
Would the world be better off without deliberate attempts to stir up religious hostility? No doubt. But it’s worth remembering that it didn’t take a mocking cartoon to inspire Al Qaeda to fly planes into the World Trade Center. Blasphemy was not cited as an excuse for the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Were it not for these and other tragedies, would Pamela Geller be interested in a “Draw Mohammed” contest? Almost certainly not. These instances of mockery come as a result of radical jihad. To try and twist it around and pretend as though the cause is the result is to bury your head in the sand.
Free speech is a much more important value than tolerance. Sad to say, but not every idea is of equal worth. Not every lifestyle has to be accepted. There is a deep incompatibility between Islam and American democracy. Calling for the death of a “blasphemer” only widens the gap. If Islam’s leaders want the West to accept their religion, they are going to have to accept the West. Otherwise, this conflict will continue. And though the current administration is loathe to engage, Obama won’t be president forever.
The next guy might not be quite so tolerant.