Or: There’s a holy war out there for everyone
Jihad in the name of Islam has been with us for a long time. We see images of it every day. Scruffy looking guys with beards and AK 47’s having what must be a great time shooting at infidels, blowing themselves up, screaming the praises of Mohammed, Allah, and Islam, while threatening to kill us by whatever means possible. I mean, it must be fun, because human nature being what it is it’s doubtful so many would go through so much trouble for something that wasn’t. Never mind ideology. These people seem to be enjoying what they do.
And when the usual shooting and bombing became passé, the ante was upped. We got ISIS, or ISIL, depending on whether or not you are working for the Obama administration. Now you can not only shoot the infidel, but you can crucify his children, cut his head off, and make a YouTube video of the entire mess. It’s an absolute laugh riot. The problem is, it’s just not right for everybody.
Maybe you’re Jewish. You like to have fun as much as the next guy but Islamic Jihad really isn’t your thing. What then? Or maybe you’re an American. Shooting yourself in the name of Allah isn’t quite as much fun as shooting someone else. Unless, of course, you have strong suicidal tendencies, in which case you can join ISIS/ISIL. So while the radical Islamists are out there partying like it’s 1999 what are the rest of us supposed to do for entertainment?
Glad you asked. In the past several years a couple of causes have been put forward offering the opportunity for the rest of us to have almost as much fun as our radical Muslim brethren. The first of these is global warming, or climate change, or climate chaos, pretty much depending on the current weather. The thinking here is that global temperatures are rising because humans are pumping vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere via the use of fossil fuels. This carbon dioxide is then trapping heat by producing a green house effect. Ice caps are shrinking, glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, and we will either all drown or develop fins and gills sometime in the next couple of centuries.
To combat this existential threat Obama, the EPA, and certain climate scientists have declared jihad on carbon dioxide. That’s right. CO2. The stuff plants convert to oxygen during their respiratory cycle. Finally, a crusade for the rest of us. Millions have taken up the banner with true religious zeal. They march, they shout, they demand an end to the use of coal, oil, and even natural gas. They vilify anyone who dares question their premise, the core of their belief system. They call them ‘deniers’ with the same scorn and disgust Aristotle must have felt toward the flat-earthers, or the radical Muslims toward Episcopalians. They are having an absolute ball.
It is unthinkable they could be in error. It is unacceptable to consider a dissenting opinion, devoid as it must be of any rational or scientific support. This despite the fact there has been no actual atmospheric warming in something like twenty or twenty-five years, sea levels are stable, and the Antarctic ice cap is increasing in size. Also not up for discussion is the science behind the dogma, based as it is on making a number of dubious assumptions that can then be used to support a foregone conclusion. It is, after all, a jihad. Resistance is not only futile, it is punishable by social death.
So this winter, when polar bears are strolling down Michigan Avenue in Chicago’s loop, snuggle up to the fireplace, sip an Irish coffee, and think about all the fun you and your pals are going to have come July. By then it will be hot, like it pretty much always is in our hemisphere that time of year. What could be better than spending your summer blaming big oil, big coal, and the guy next door with the F150 for those dog days? Just don’t mention China or India. That would just be a buzz-kill.
But maybe science, pseudo or otherwise, isn’t your thing either. Now you are really getting envious. The Islamists and climate crusaders are out there having the time of their lives while you are just sitting there. Bored stiff. It’s not fair. It’s not equitable. It’s discriminatory. Hmm.
Fortunately, there’s something for you, too. If, like me, you are old enough to remember the sixties, meaning you are actually in your sixties, you probably remember the free speech movement. Mario Savio, Sproul Plaza, the marches, the slogans, the tear gas. Man, was that ever fun. It wasn’t exactly jihad, we didn’t know too much about that in those days, but it was a hell of a good time. And we won. Free speech, free love, the whole thing. Let’s hear it for the First Ammendment.
Well, the good times are rolling once again, though they’re on a bit of a different track. Speech is back in the news, just not the free kind. Instead, those who claim to be among the best and the brightest among us are campaigning for a different kind of speech. The politically correct kind. And for those of us still feeling left out, uncomfortable with both Islamic Jihad and the Climate Crusade, we can join the fight to suppress free speech. Yep. The jihad against the First Amendment.
Like the free speech movement itself, this battle began on college campuses. The same ones, like the one I attended, U.C. Berkeley, that gave birth to the first speech wars. In fact, much of the senior leadership, the intellectual brass leading this fight, are the same people who were marching, shouting, and sucking tear gas forty years ago. Except they aren’t students any longer. They are tenured professors.
What they are professing is that free speech is harmful. It can make some people uncomfortable. Feelings can be hurt, self-esteem can be damaged. Certain ideas are so far from the mainstream, meaning inconsistent with their worldview, that they should never be given voice. If you must think a certain thought, make sure you think it through before opening your mouth.
The First Amendment was, after all, written in the eighteenth century by a bunch of white guys. ‘White’ and ‘guy’ both being words the speech jihadists would prefer dropped from our lexicon. What possible good or relevance could such a document have in today’s world, they ask.
That the First Amendment was created to protect everyone’s speech is unimportant. That the very sort of speech needing protection is the kind that could be insulting or hurtful to some is likewise of no consequence. Maybe someone should explain this to the leaders of the rap music industry. Hatred, violence and misogyny are bad things, except when they are coupled with some catchy samples and a loud drum track. Then they are just Baad.
So onward you euphemistic soldiers. Shut those mouths, close those minds. Because you know what’s best. You know everything. Just like you did when you were twenty. Just like the Islamists and the Climate Crusaders. There’s nothing better than being right. Nothing’s more fun than a righteous war. And now there’s a jihad for everyone.