Thoughts of an American Centrist

Friday, August 05, 2005

In Defense of Tony Blair

Good job, Tony. The British Prime minister announced his plans to introduce legislation that would deport radical Muslim clerics (and anyone else, I suppose), who engage in "acts preparatory to terrorism," and outlaws "indirect incitement" of terrorism. I think this is a good idea. If Great Britain graciously allows individuals to immigrate in the hopes that they can experience the liberties and freedoms of the country, why shouldn't they then have the right to expel them when those same people act in a way which undermines that very democracy? After all, they probably would have been denied their visa or green card (or whatever permanent residency is called in the UK) if they had been honest up front with the immigration officers and told them that they were coming over to advocate terrorism.

Free Speech? Not really.
People are making all kinds of noises that this is free speech issue, but is it? We've established long ago in all democracies that freedom of speech is not absolute (read the US SCOTUS decision proclaiming that we cannot cry "fire" in a crowded theater). The question remains: if the threat is not immediate, is dangerous speech still overridden by safety concerns? I would argue that it is.

But this is all beside the point. Remember, the British government is not criminalizing this activity. Nobody is going to jail. Instead, Prime Minister Blair is pretty much stating that "If you side with the terrorists, you are no longer welcome here." What is so awful about that?

Not Profiling
Another point that should be made is that this is not racial profiling. We're not going to go around deporting peaceful Muslim clerics, here. The only ones who need to be worried about this are people who are speaking out in support of terrorism. That has nothing to do with race, speech has to do with actions. By very definition, profiling is something that occurs because of personal factors beyond our control. This situation has nothing whatsoever to do with racial profiling. In fact, peaceful Muslims in Britain are applauding this measure!

This is just a common-sense measure that should be passed. I encourage our own congress to introduce similar legislation.


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