Freedom Of Speech On Trial
“Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.”
-- Salman Rushdie, London Guardian, Nov. 8, 1990
Michael Savage is in for the fight of his life. He has brought suit against the Council on Islamic-American Relations, or CAIR. This group did not like what he was saying and brought pressure to bear on his sponsors to drop him. There are varying reports as to the monetary damage done to him, but there is undoubtedly some.
Perhaps more important, and certainly related, is the prospect of silencing this voice. Savage is almost alone in denouncing those who support the organizations in this country that funnel money to terrorist groups. Either the other talk show hosts are uninformed about this or are being bullied into silence. Savage seems to be in the unique position of being independent enough to speak his mind on the subject. Others may know what he knows, but their bosses will not let them speak about it.
According to WorldNetDaily:
“The San Francisco-based talker originally accused the Islamic organization of copyright violations, but later amended the action to include allegations the group ‘has consistently sought to silence opponents of violent terror through economic blackmail, frivolous but costly lawsuits, threats of lawsuits and abuses of the legal system’.
‘The action in U.S. District Court in Northern California also accused CAIR of using extortion, threats, abuse of the court system and obtaining money via interstate commerce under false and fraudulent circumstances - calling it a ‘political vehicle of international terrorism’ and even linking the group with support of al-Qaida’.”
WorldNetDaily, leading the way on this story, also reports:
“The federal government, in fact, recently named CAIR, based in Washington, D.C., as an unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged scheme to funnel $12 million to the terrorist group Hamas.”……
“Groups like CAIR have a proven record of senior officials being indicted and either imprisoned or deported from the United States”, said U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., co-founder of the House Anti-Terrorism/Jihad Caucus.”
Savage’s suit claims:
“CAIR has links to both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Terrorism expert Steven Emerson has stated before Congress that CAIR is a front for Hamas”.
These are serious charges made by knowledgeable people. Yet, a Clinton appointed judge, Susan Illston, has sided with CAIR. It would probably be too much to expect a judge appointed by Clinton to do otherwise. Judgeships are very often patronage positions and it is a rare judge who bites the hand that feeds her/him, so to speak.
The climate in California is so liberal that Savage is not likely to find any judges there who might treat him fairly. Indeed, he has said that he would take his case to the next level, the notoriously liberal, most frequently overturned court in the U.S., the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of appeals. Savage stated on his program:
“What I may try to do is have the case removed from California because I cannot get a fair trial. I may remove it to Alabama, for example, where maybe I could get a fair trial - maybe where there’s still America. It certainly doesn’t exist here in California.”
This is commonly known as court shopping and is regularly employed by such groups as the ACLU. When so many judges have been appointed by liberal presidents, the ACLU does not have to go far to find a sympathetic judge. Conservatives are not so fortunate and must often go far afield to even find a judge they consider observant of the U.S. Constitution.
Some important parts of the suit listed by WND:
“The copyright infringement was done to raise funds for CAIR so that it could perpetuate and continue to perform its role in the RICO conspiracy set forth in Count Two and to disseminate propaganda on behalf of foreign interests that are opposed to the continued existence of the United States of America as a free nation.”……
“The Council on American-Islamic Relations is a Muslim Brotherhood front organization. It works in the United States as a lobby against radio, television and print media journalists who dare to produce anything about Islam that is at variance with their fundamental agenda.”……
“CAIR receives significant international funding. For example, in 1999 the Islamic Development Bank gave a $250,000 grant to CAIR to purchase land for a national headquarters. In 2002, the World Association for Muslim Youth, a Saudi government-funded organization, financed distributing books on Islam free of charge and an advertising campaign in American publications. This included a quarter page in USA Today each Friday, for a year, estimated to cost $1.04 million In 2003, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal donated $500,000 to distribute the Koran and other books about Islam in the United States. In 2005, CAIR’s Washington branch received a donation of $1.366,466 from a Saudi Arabian named Adnan Bogary. In 2006, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and UAE minister of finance and industry, financed the building of a property in the U.S. to serve as an endowment for the organization. This gift is thought to generate income of approximately $3 million a year.”
While Savage is not a poor man, it is evident that his resources cannot match those of CAIR and its foreign based supporters. He has set up a legal defense fund on his website to help with the costs that are sure to escalate as his case goes to a different court.
Many Americans are frustrated by the lack of interest shown by their government as to the activities of these questionable groups. They are stirred to action and ask what they can do. Supporting Michael Savage will show CAIR that a sizeable number of this citizenry is concerned enough to do something. Savage’s name may be on the court documents, but he represents the twenty-five thousand plus people who have contributed to his case and who join him in spirit.
It is in the public interest to see this case continued, not only because it is a free speech issue, but because a successful appeal could give us heretofore hidden facts about CAIR’s associations and sources of funding, which could come to light in any discovery phase.
Why should I care? Why should you care?
Anyone who has an opinion and speaks or writes it should care. Savage is a test case. If a speaker of opinion as powerful as Savage is successfully silenced, all of us are at risk. Even if you do not speak or write, you still want to get all sides to a story. That is why the internet is so popular. There are many differing opinions there, some nutty and some profound. That is the beauty of free speech. You are the one who decides for yourself which is which.
When Salman Rushdie wrote his book, “The Satanic Verses”, American citizens were bemused. The reaction to Rushdie’s book seemed all out of proportion to his claims. Being accustomed to free speech, we were puzzled at the vehemence of the attacks against him. The Iranian leader at the time, the Ayatollah Khomenei, issued a fatwa, (death sentence), against him. Rushdie went into hiding and is still very guarded in his activities. CAIR and other groups know they cannot do the same in this country. They use the courts to silence their opposition. Because our citizenry is not well educated as to the threats these groups pose, they have been more successful than they should be in our courts.
Salman Rushdie evoked an extreme reaction, but there is more than one way to silence people with whom you disagree. Before we were really listening, Rushdie warned us all.
Michael Savage is warning us now. Are we listening yet?
Barbara Anderson is a Capitol Hill Coffee House staff writer.