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28173
“U.S. Criminalizing Free Speech?”
by Gatestone Institute / Judith Bergman   
January 6th, 2016

Eighty-two leading Democrats have cosponsored a House Resolution (H.Res. 569) "Condemning violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States".

The Resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives by Democrat Donald S. Beyer (Virginia) on December 17, 2015 -- a mere 15 days after Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook gunned down 14 innocent Americans and wounded 23 in an ISIS-inspired terror attack at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, California.

The House Resolution states, "the victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes and rhetoric have faced physical, verbal, and emotional abuse because they were Muslim or believed to be Muslim," and the House of Representatives "expresses its condolences for the victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes."

What victims? Of all 1,149 anti-religious hate crimes reported in the United States in 2014, only 16.1% were directed against Muslims, according to the FBI. By contrast, over half of all anti-religious hate crimes were directed against Jews – 56.8%. The fewest, 8.6% of anti-religious hate crimes, were directed against Christians (Protestants and Catholics).

The Resolution goes on to denounce "...in the strongest terms the increase of hate speech, intimidation, violence, vandalism, arson, and other hate crimes targeted against mosques, Muslims, or those perceived to be Muslim."

The House Resolution singles out Muslims in the United States as an especially vulnerable religious group that needs special protection to the extent that the Resolution "urges local and Federal law enforcement authorities to work to prevent hate crimes; and to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those perpetrators of hate crimes."

The reason for the introduction of this House Resolution at this point in time makes more sense if seen in conjunction with statements made by Attorney General Loretta Lynch on December 3, at a dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Muslim Advocates -- an organization that, according to its own website, has "powerful connections in Congress and the White House" and ensures that, "the concerns of American Muslims are heard by leaders at the highest levels of government." Muslim Advocates goes on to say, "As a watchdog of justice, we use the courts to bring to task those who threaten the rights of American Muslims."

At the dinner, Attorney General Lynch stated that she is concerned about an

"incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric... The fear that you have just mentioned is in fact my greatest fear as a prosecutor, as someone who is sworn to the protection of all of the American people, which is that the rhetoric will be accompanied by acts of violence. Now obviously, this is a country that is based on free speech, but when it edges towards violence, when we see the potential for someone lifting that mantle of anti-Muslim rhetoric -- or, as we saw after 9/11, violence directed at individuals who may not even be Muslims but perceived to be Muslims, and they will suffer just as much -- when we see that we will take action."

Is this House Resolution a prelude to the Attorney General taking that action? Has she seen the potential for someone lifting her "mantle of anti-Muslim rhetoric"? And what is "anti-Muslim rhetoric" exactly? Criticizing Islam? Debating Mohammed? Discussing whether ISIS is a true manifestation of Islam? Who decides the definition of what is considered hate speech against Muslims?

Are the Attorney General and the eighty-two House Democrats out to destroy the First Amendment and introduce censorship?

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