By David French — December 4, 2015
Loretta Lynch at Muslim Advocates
In her response to what appears to be a deadly, ISIS-motivated domestic terror attack, Attorney General Loretta Lynch has offered an almost Onion-level self-parody of liberal pieties.
Per Obama administration protocol, the attorney general was determined to never let a crisis go to waste. There is now a “wonderful opportunity and wonderful moment to really make significant change,” Lynch declared the day after 14 innocent Americans were murdered and 23 injured at the hands of a Muslim couple who’d reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS. And what is this change? New gun-control measures, of course, including stripping the constitutional rights (without due process) of Americans often arbitrarily placed on the vastly over-inclusive terror watch list.
Lynch addressed the Muslim Advocate’s tenth-anniversary dinner and declared that she is concerned about an “incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric . . . that fear is my greatest fear.” Her greatest fear is — not terrorism — but a nonexistent Islamophobic backlash? ISIS has demonstrated that it can bring down passenger jets, strike the heart of a great Western capitol with urban assault teams, and inspire horrible carnage in California. We also know that ISIS has pledged to keep attacking the U.S. and possesses chemical weapons. Yet it’s politically incorrect speech that strikes fear into the heart of our attorney general.
What about blurring the distinction between speech and violence? Lynch is so serious about stopping Islamophobia that she’s sending a clear message to those who engage in “anti-Muslim rhetoric” — the Department of Justice is watching you:
When we talk about the First amendment we [must] make it clear that actions predicated on violent talk are not American. They are not who we are, they are not what we do, and they will be prosecuted.
And yet, there is no legally meaningful category of “action[s] predicated on violent talk.” Lynch spoke against rhetoric that “edges towards violence,” but the law obviously prohibits violent actions — she’s speaking in terms alien to the First Amendment. True threats are unlawful, and true “incitement” isn’t protected by the Constitution, but these are extraordinarily narrow legal categories. Is it not enough to declare that the Department of Justice will enforce the law and uphold the Constitution?
The First Amendment protects an enormous range of speech — even speech that’s anathema to the Obama administration. Americans are perfectly within their rights to not just condemn jihad but also to make sweeping and angry statements about Islam. If the administration disagrees with this speech, it’s free to make its own statements, but when it starts making up legal categories of problematic speech, it is getting disturbingly close to discarding the Bill of Rights.
Unfortunately, when the Constitution conflicts with the demands of social justice, discarding the Bill of Rights is part of the Obama administration’s mission statement. The First Amendment takes a back seat to the administration’s desire to build a national “safe space” for Muslims. The Second Amendment should be tossed aside (without due process, no less) if a person’s name appears on a bloated bureaucratic watch list — a list so over-inclusive that it has included such nefarious characters as TheWeekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes and the late senator Ted Kennedy.
A competent attorney general shouldn’t even be talking about her “greatest fears,” much less that her greatest fear includes free speech. A competent attorney general should be speaking the language of vigilance, courage, and resolve. We know the Obama administration is capable of resolve. It is resolved to fundamentally transform our nation. It is resolved to advance the sexual-revolution agenda of the radical Left. It is resolved to turn our nation’s military into an engine of social justice. But it is not resolved to defend our nation and Constitution from a vicious enemy who seeks to soak our streets in blood. And that lack of resolve is worse than a shame — it’s a disgrace.
— David French is an attorney, a staff writer at National Review, and a veteran of the Iraq War.