Check out the video clip below. It’s also in Meira Svirsky’s inflammatory piece at Stop Radical Islam (www.stopradicalislam.org). US Assistant Attorney General, Tom Perez, is apparently unwilling to respond to what Rep Trent Frank of Arizona claims is a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ question: Will he categorically rule out entertaining legislation that erodes free speech, even if it is against a religion (read: against Islam). Representative Frank repeatedly demands a simple Yes/No answer, even though “the defendant” attempts to explain that the answer is not quite as simple as demanded.
The question and Mr. Frank’s demand for a 1-word answer–without any clarification–degrades the US House of Representatives by turning the Grand Jury session into a inquisition reminiscent of 17th Salem witchcraft trials. Unfortunately, a lot of congressional hearings slip into this mode, because US Senators and members of Congress can confer upon themselves Grand Jury status at will. It’s a slick, legal construct that means the visitor/guest is compelled to appear, has no right to an attorney, no right to cross examine, no right to abstain, and cannot even invoke the 5th amendment to the US constitution—the right to refrain from self incrimination. This wholesale withdrawal of constitutional protection is justified by the fact that the proceeding is part of evidence gathering and that no formal charges, court session or legal action has commenced. Life and liberty are not at stake and so protections be damned.
We’ll save a discussion of Grand Jury ethics for another day. What disappoints me about this particular hearing is that it was posted to stopradicalislam.org as an example of a government official who is soft on the erosion of constitutional freedoms and either soft or blind to the gradual Islamification of western democracies.
The attack by Representative Trent Frank on Assistant AG, Tom Perez, and the implication of reporting it in this way is unwarranted and misleading. It undermines the important mission of radicalislam.org.
First about street cred: I am not in favor of abridging free speech, especially against a growing threat to western democracies, even if disguised as a religion or a different cultural perspective.
I strongly support stopradicalislam.org. The public service watchdog sounds alarms and shines a bright light on a bona fide threat to western civilization. Although the scope of the threat is debated, significant numbers of individuals and a growing body of Islamic organizations are proactively and purposely undermining basic freedoms, including freedom of speech.
I once thought that Islamification was the inflammatory fantasy-fear of rednecks and others who don’t–themselves–embrace a tolerant, inclusive society. But I have grown to understand that these Islamic groups are antithetical to inclusion. They seek to bend every society that offers them sanctuary to their ridged, intolerant views.
Now, about Tom Perez and his refusal to simply say “Yes”: Give the guy a break! The Yes/No demand posed by Trent Frank in the video clip above was not only belligerent; it is intentionally presented in a way that could not be answered with “Yes”. Four times, Assistant AG Perez attempted to explain that the very act of opening a communication and presenting it to his committee could be construed as “entertaining a legislative proposal”. Therefore, he could not rule out “entertaining a bill that would restrict free speech against a religion”. (The question was inflammatory and insincere! It certainly doesn’t mean that the Assistant DA is Communist or that he seeks to overturn the cornerstone of constitutional freedom). Had he been allowed to answer the question without constant bullying, it seems likely that he would have reaffirmed his mandate to uphold the US constitution, including—especially—our right to free speech.
I still identify with the laudable objectives of stopradicalislam.org, and even the alarmist tone to most of their bulletins. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify with any organization that buttresses its argument with bullying and misdirection. C’mon guys…Your battle is too important to water down with unethical or intentionally misleading citations.
 Pssst! Express Yourself: Are the unchecked discretionary powers of a Grand Jury a reasonable tool in a democracy? Ellery has not arrived at an informed opinion. We invite a guest OpEd from an attorney with courtroom experience, clear writing style, and an opinion that can be supported with eloquence.
 For many westerners, the mention of Arabic Islam brings to mind images of terrorists, the suppression of basic freedoms, burqas, honor killings, clitoridectomies, the exclusion of girls from schools & driving, and hacking off fingers for minor infractions against narrow and extreme religious ideology (so called, Sharia Law).
What fraction of those identifying with Arabic Islam match this western impression?
Wild Ducks might debate the fraction of Islamists that exhibit religious zealotry, cultural intolerance and a penchant for violence &
martyrdom (suicide during cowardly acts of terrorism). But few dispute the growing threat of a significant fraction and their front facing proxies. The institutions are just as extreme as the most radical individuals: anti-women, anti-western, anti-pluralism, and culturally intolerant. Propaganda and subterfuge is disseminated by feel-good shills, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and other innocent sounding NGOs. For most westerners, the message is falling on deaf ears, because actions and television pictures speak louder than words. Acts like 911, Bangalore, Madrid, and London followed by jubilant dancing in the streets and a silence by Islamic spokespeople suggest that extremism and intolerance are either in the majority–or at least a very significant minority.
» Ellery Davies is a frequent contributor to Yahoo, CNet, ABCNews
» and The Wall Street Journal. He is also editor of AWildDuck.com.