By Barry Rubin
I have just been informed that my article published here and at PJ Media, “Egypt: As Grim Islamists March Toward Power, The Naïve Dance in Tahrir Square”
has been barred on sites used by officials of a European government–hint, they speak English there and it is the birthplace of modern democracy and free speech–on the grounds that this article is “hate speech.” What this means is that if you work for any institution that is part of this government–including the Foreign or Defense ministries–you cannot read this PJ Media column on your computer that’s part of such a server.
The message reads: Access denied — reason given : hate speech.
My reader asks sarcastically if complaining about this action would constitute a “thought crime” on his part.
This is only the first time I’ve been informed of this and perhaps it has been happening for months or even years.
Even rejecting this kind of nonsense when applied to contemporary writing on the Middle East or things connected to Islam, this specific article is so ridiculously distant from such a claim as to be even more ridiculous. (Take a look if you wish by clicking on the link, above.) Indeed, my article doesn’t even deal with Islam as a religion or anything that could be construed even by a raving maniac radical leftist as hateful or offensive.
In other words, I cannot figure out who I am supposedly telling people to “hate.” Is it “hate speech” to argue anything other than that the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate pro-democratic group? Why isn’t the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hizballah, and other such groups being banned for “hate speech” given their open statements advocating genocide against Jews?
Well, Western democracies have finally accepted censorship based on the clever lie that they are only protecting people from racism and those who want to incite violence and murder. The door that this is opened has now made possible what liberals and democrats have warned against for more than a century–even though people claiming such positions are responsible for this–giving authorities to block and ban political views that they don’t like.
It’s one thing to defend the rights of those who are being provocative in some way. But we have gone far beyond that: the censorship of straight political analysis that conflicts with the “official line.” Of course, such things have happened to other people but now apparently saying that Egyptian liberals are mistakenly throwing away any hope for freedom, that Islamists are gaining power in Egypt, and that the army is repressive but perhaps not the main threat is not permissible.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and Middle East editor and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/. His latest books include Israel: An Introduction (Yale, 2012); The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).