The Real Threat to Intellectual Freedom
If there is one line from my "infamous" September 2005 Chronicle article that explains my dispute with the bulk of the library profession, it's this one:
...I believe that the primary threats to our freedom are named bin Laden and Zarqawi, not Ashcroft and Gonzales. My main worry is not FBI agents with subpoenas but the supporters of a totalitarian ideology of death that represents the antithesis of everything our profession is supposed to stand for.
While much of the library profession has engaged in single minded opposition to the Patriot Act, often to the point of fear mongering, American librarians have been virtually silent in response to the murder of Theo Van Gogh and the violent reaction to the Danish Mohammed cartoons.
Just this week, Al Qaeda offered additional evidence of where the real threat to intellectual freedom lies. On May 29, a message from American Al Qaeda member Adam Gadahn appeared on a jihadist web site. Included in Gadahn's remarks was a list of those demands that America must meet before Al Qaeda will cease its war against us. MEMRI has posted a transcript of the speech, as well as a link to the video itself. Here are the list of Al Qaeda demands expressed by Gadahn, taken directly from the MEMRI transcript:
"One: Pull every last one of your soldiers, spies, security advisors, trainers, attachés, and so on out of every Muslim land from Afghanistan to Zanzibar. Should so much as one single American soldier or spy remain on Islamic soil, it shall be considered sufficient justification for us to continue our defensive jihad against your nation and people.
"Two: Stop all support and aid, military, political, economic, or otherwise, to the 56-plus apostate regimes of the Muslim world, and abandon them to their well-deserved fate at the hands of the soldiers of Islam. Should you fail to comply in full, we will deem it sufficient justification to continue to fight and kill Americans.
"Three: End all support, moral, military, economic, political, or otherwise, to the bastard state of Israel, and ban your citizens, Zionist Jews, Zionist Christians, and the rest from traveling to occupied Palestine or settling there. Even one penny of aid will be considered sufficient justification to continue the fight.
"Four: Cease all interference in the religion, society, politics, and governance of the Muslim world. And leave us alone to establish the Islamic shura state, which will unite the Muslims of [the] earth in truth and justice. A single word of American protest shall be silenced by a thousand Islamic bombs.
"Five: Put an end to all forms of interference in the education curricula and information media of the Islamic world, and impose a blanket ban on all broadcasts to our region, especially those designed to alter or destroy the faith, minds, morals, and values of our people.
"Six: Free all Muslim captives from your prisons, detention facilities, and concentration camps, regardless of whether they have been recipients of what you call a fair trial or not. Your refusal to release them will mean the continuation of our just struggle against your tyranny until the last kidnapped Muslim has been liberated.
As you can see, Al Qaeda's demands go well beyond an American withdrawal from the Middle East. It is not enough that we allow them to impose their barbarous totalitarian ideology and stage Holocaust 2.0. We have to give up some of our own freedom in the process. Al Qaeda demands that we prevent Americans from so much as traveling to Israel; that we stay silent on the pain of "a thousand Islamic bombs" while the jihadists gleefully murder "heretics and freethinkers"; and that we offer Muslims no alternative to the Islamists' ideology of death. In essence, they insist that we surrender our free expression. I think the ridiculous notion that Al Qaeda's war against us is motivated solely by disputes over policy, and has nothing to do with their hatred of tolerance and pluralism, can safely be put to rest.
BTW, Gadahn also deflates the hopes of those who think that running away from Iraq will appease the jihadists:
"Let Us Be Clear: A Pullout From Iraq Alone, In The Absence Of Compliance With The Remainder Of Our Legitimate Demands... Will Not Save You From Our Strikes"
It seems to me that a global totalitarian movement that openly threatens America with censorship by terrorism is a far greater threat to intellectual freedom than the FBI wanting to know who sent an anonymous e-mail threat from a Connecticut library computer.