Canadian Analyst Highlights US Hypocrisy on Freedom of Speech
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A Canadian political expert highlighted the US government’s double standards on the freedom of speech right and said Washington has no problem with hate speech against Muslims but rejects “any corresponding right to speak freely in criticizing Zionism”.
“…we are now seeing that the establishment has no difficulty whatsoever invoking freedom of speech to defend the right of people to engage, for example, in hate speech against Muslims, or against nations which resist US hegemony and therefore are deemed to be the enemy, while rejecting any corresponding right to speak freely in criticizing Zionism or other forms of political extremism that are fully embraced by the Atlantic World establishment,” Barry Grossman, who is based on the Indonesian island of Bali, told Tasnim in an interview.
Barry Grossman is a political analyst specializing in Public International Law, who has resided in Indonesia for more than 20 years, frequently commenting on current affairs and geopolitics. He graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1984 and from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto in 1987, after which he worked as a commercial litigator with a large Toronto law firm before moving to Australia to take up an academic position with the University of Melbourne Law School and, after that a lectureship at Monash University Law school. In addition, he worked for a number of years as a senior litigation consultant to a large, national law firm in Australia and is widely published by refereed Academic journals and as a writer of reference works for the legal profession.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: Some Western powers which call themselves defenders of freedom of speech and interfere in the internal affairs of independent countries under this pretext have acted differently when it comes to their own countries. In the latest instance, the US voiced its support for violent protests in various sovereign states around the world ranging from Iran, Iraq, and Venezuela to China’s Hong Kong. However, many critics slam the lack of free expression in the US, itself. What do you think?
Grossman: Well, I think it is now quite clear that the members of political apparatus in Western nations, the US in particular, typically support the notion of free speech only when it comes to speech that is either benign or supports the narrow range of positions which are considered by them to be legitimate.
As a result, we are now seeing that the establishment has no difficulty whatsoever invoking freedom of speech to defend the right of people to engage, for example, in hate speech against Muslims, or against nations which resist US hegemony and therefore are deemed to be the enemy, while rejecting any corresponding right to speak freely in criticizing Zionism or other forms of political extremism that are fully embraced by the Atlantic World establishment.
Even worse, the concentration of ownership and cross-ownership rules which once regulated the mass media industry have been completely abandoned, with the Atlantic World security apparatus now working hand in hand with private sector media outlets and online platforms to quietly censor inconvenient truth and views which cannot be reconciled with official policy positions. That ubiquitous censorship is of course entirely free from accountability through the courts based on any constitutionally enshrined personal rights or civil liberties.
The net result of this is that the Emperor stands naked for all to see, as the US and its allies not only intervene to stir up civil unrest in nations around the world, while Western governments criticize their regional counterparts for taking action against individuals stirring up unrest and violence and, at once, shut down all criticism of similar responses by Atlantic World governments when they move to quell unrest, as we have been seeing for many months now in France, and repeatedly in other countries like the US.
Tasnim: If an academic association in the US criticizes Washington’s Israeli policy, it will lose its federal funding. That is the message the Department of Education recently sent with its threat to withdraw federal support for the Consortium for Middle East Studies, operated jointly by Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, if it does not alter the content of its programming, according to a recent report published by the Guardian. How do assess academic freedom in the US?
Grossman: Like so many notions once heralded as bedrock values in the US and wider Atlantic World system, the principle of Academic Freedom was abandoned when neoliberals subverted the tertiary education system and turned Universities not only into user-pay institutions but into profit centers. That happened in the 80s long before the contrived war on terror provided ideologues with a convenient cover for infiltrating the management of Universities everywhere and quietly ensuring that academic appointments only go to politically correct candidates and that nobody who actively rejects Zionism or other compulsory ideological views is given tenured positions. Academic freedom, in short, has gone the way of “the rule-of-law”, civil liberties, political freedom, tolerance, and the dodo bird.
Tasnim: The French government’s crackdown on yellow vest demonstrators is another example that refutes the world power’s claim to be a defender of freedom of speech. The protests began a year ago over high fuel prices but evolved into a broader social movement over income inequality and President Emmanuel Macron's leadership. How do you assess the crackdown and the free expression situation in the Western European country?
Grossman: It would be foolish not to recognize the challenges presented by often contrived protest movements in this new era that sees the standard of living for ordinary, often uninformed, working people in Western countries falling drastically, as the corporate sector struggles to remain competitive in a world dominated by cheap labor, low taxes, and lack of regulation, while, at the same time, developments in information technology have given ordinary people a voice they have never before had and a related power which, using the same technology, is easily manipulated by others who all too often seem to have a completely different agenda from those they manage to stampede into some form of ill-advised political action.
I think we must all remain open-minded about the difficulties faced by the government in maintaining order and trying to find productive solutions to chronic problems, all too often aggravated by people from very different backgrounds and belief systems who feel the need to take to the streets without a clear, practical, or informed agenda.
On the other hand, we must, wherever we happen to be, remain vigilant to guard our lawful right to resist that which is anathema to us, to productively take part in the political process and, in extraordinary circumstances, to protest in a manner which does not cause more harm than it seeks to readdress.
The problem with all of this, it should be obvious to everyone, is that the elements which now control Atlantic World governance no longer consider themselves bound by their own laws, let alone by the complex web of international conventions, treaties, and customs we once called “international law”; and if that is not already bad enough, they have also become transparently hypocritical in disingenuously misrepresenting and vilifying some forms of perfectly legitimate political speech, while protecting other less than legitimate forms of speech which also happen all too often to violate the very principles Atlantic World nations claim lie at their foundations.
As a result, we are now constantly seeing clear examples of an entirely unaccountable security apparatus clandestinely engineering civil unrest, violence, and military backed overthrows in nations targeted by the West, while condemning those same nations for doing with complete legitimacy what Western governments are now routinely doing domestically with little or no legitimacy at all.
Needless to say, if we continue down this path at the current rate, we will soon pass a tipping point which is likely to see still more authoritarian changes and perpetual war ratcheted into the way the US and its Atlantic world allies work to maintain control in their own nations while fighting against the tide of history in an effort to maintain the 500 years of unwarranted privilege and power they have already enjoyed. It is difficult to see how any of this can end well for the Western powers.