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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/13/17

The Misguided Attacks on ACLU for Defending Neo-Nazis' Free Speech Rights in Charlottesville

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EACH TIME HORRIFIC political violence is perpetrated that is deemed to be terrorism, a search is immediately conducted for culprits to blame other than those who actually perpetrated the violence or endorsed the group responsible for it. It's usually only a matter of hours before the attack is exploited to declare one's own political views vindicated, and to depict one's political adversaries as responsible for, if not complicit in, the violence. Often accompanying this search for villains is a list of core civil liberties that we're told ought to be curtailed in the name of preventing similar acts of violence in the future.

All of this typically happens before much of anything is known about the killer, his actual inspirations, his mental health, or his associations. In the aftermath of the widespread horror such violence naturally produces, the easiest target for these guilt-by-association tactics are those who have advocated for the legal rights of the group of which the individual attacker is a member and/or those who have defended the legal right to express the opinions in the name of which the attack was carried out.

These tactics are most familiar when a Muslim perpetrates violence within a western city, aimed at westerners. Before anything is known about the attacker other than his religious identity, the violence is instantly declared to be terrorism. Then the search is quickly launched to find anyone who can be said to be responsible for the violence by virtue of having "encouraged" or "enabled" Islamic extremism, often by doing nothing more than having defended the legal rights of the group that is being blamed for the attack.

At the top of the blame list one always finds a wide range of imams who preach Islam -- even those who never in their lives advocated violence of any kind -- as well as activists who defend Muslims from bigotry and persecution. But also prominently featured in this vilification game are legal groups, such as the Council on American-Islam Relations (CAIR) and the ACLU, that defend the free speech rights and other civil liberties of Muslims to be free of state persecution and suppression. Recently, even social platforms that allow Muslims to express themselves without state censorship are said to be "complicit."

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Demonizing lawyers and civil liberties advocates by depicting them as "complicit" in the heinous acts of their clients is a long-standing scam that is not confined to the U.S. The Belgian lawyer who represented one of the Muslim attackers in Paris, Sven Mary, said "he had suffered physical and verbal attacks and his daughters had even needed a police escort to school."

Go to The Intercept to read the rest of this article.

 

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Glenn Greenwald is one of three co-founding editors of The Intercept. He is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place (more...)
 

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