Culture War Dispatches

from a Progressive People's Republic

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Right to Be Heard

Professor Nadle argues in “Will Obama be a n0-go to racism conference” (4/13/09) that the U.S. should attend the upcoming U.N. racism conference, even though it promises to be another hate-fest with human rights paragons like Libya, Cuba and Algeria issuing statements criticizing the human rights records of Israel and America—alone among nations. Although she admits that some of the statements from the 2001 conference in Durban were “ugly” and “anti-Semitic,” she claims it is wrong to limit “people's right to speak their feelings and be heard.”

I believe in free speech as well—for instance, the right of Geert Wilders to show his film criticizing Islam, and in freedom of the press—the right for Danish newspapers to publish cartoons.

No one is trying to limit anyone’s right to speak at the conference; the anti-Semitic carnival will go on whether or not the United States attends.

But if we offer anti-Semites the microphone, no corresponding right exists to “be heard.” Colin Powell did the right thing to walk out of the 2001 conference and President Obama is doing the right thing to stay home.