Donald Trump is wrong on the First Amendment. He's wrong on the cornerstone of our democracy. The freedom of speech is elemental. If he doesn't get that, he couldn't possibly be a good President.
For a man who so very much enjoys his freedom to speak, his attack on our defense of it is curious. Trump calls me a "terrible messenger"; how would he know? Based on what, exactly? He hasn't read my books, my blog, or the cases of our numerous First Amendment lawsuits. He opposed the Ground Zero mosque, a battle on which we were on the forefront.
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Donald Trump has catapulted to the top of the Republican Party Presidential polls because he saying in plain language what so many are thinking about immigration. Immigration is out of control, and even most Republicans are so afraid of the "Latino vote" that the immigration issue has become the third rail. But Trump has numerous weaknesses – notably a huge blind spot about the jihad threat, including a disturbing willingness to kowtow to jihadist intimidation and surrender the freedom of speech.
And as always with Trump, it all goes back to his business interests.
After the jihad attack on our free speech event in Garland, Texas, Trump fumed:
I think it's terrible, and we have to act very strongly. But I will say, I watched Pam prior, and it looked like she's just taunting everybody. What is she doing drawing Muhammad?…And it looks like she's actually taunting people — and it's disgusting that it happened and everything else. But why are they doing [sic] drawing Muhammad? Isn't there something else they can draw?"
He also said:
I mean it's disgusting. Isn't there something else they could be doing? Drawing Muhammad?…They can't do something else? They have to be in the middle of Texas doing something on Muhammad and insulting everybody? What is she doing? Why is she doing it? It's probably very risky for her — I don't know, maybe she likes risk? But what the hell is she doing?
Megyn Kelly subsequently asked him about those remarks, and he said: "I think Pam Geller is a terrible messenger. I think she's terrible. We have enough problems without taunting and driving everybody crazy."
Kelly gave him the opportunity to reconsider his sharia outburst. Perhaps Donald had time to rethink his initial knee-jerk reaction and give thoughtful consideration to the implications of his dangerous position. He had weeks to investigate and educate himself between his initial remarks on May 4 and his appearance on The Kelly File on May 21. Weeks. But no, he dug himself in even deeper.
Kelly challenged him: "What do we stand for as Americans if not for freedom of speech, ability to express yourself, this speech in particular which was in defiance, it's like the cartoon that won the contest it had Muhammad standing there saying you can't draw me and the person looking up to him saying, that's why I draw you." But Trump doubled down, insisting: "I'm not the only Conservative Republican that feels this way. They're lucky to be alive. Why with all the problems we have, why taunt?"
It isn't about taunting, Mr. Trump. It's about defending the freedom of speech against violent intimidation.
Trump, meanwhile, is under fire for his remarks on Mexican immigrants. Because of them, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched a comprehensive investigation of Trump holdings. Trump said: "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."
Trump was taunting Mexicans, was he not?
And while what de Blasio is doing is outrageous and wrong, Trump cannot complain. He's a "terrible messenger."
The case of Donald Trump is one of the basic freedom of speech, in New York and in America in general. For everyone, not just for the Donald.
What Trump clearly doesn't understand is that the freedom of speech is the foundation of a free society. Without it, a tyrant can wreak havoc unopposed, while his opponents are silenced.
Putting up with being offended is essential in a pluralistic society in which people differ on basic truths. If a group will not bear being offended without resorting to violence, that group will rule without any opposition being possible, for all others will be living in fear, curtailing their activities to appease the violent group. This results in the violent group being able to tyrannize the others.
Islamic law forbids criticism of Islam, Quran, and Muhammad. If they cannot be criticized in the United States, then we are in effect accepting Islamic law as overriding the freedom of speech. Is that what Donald Trump wants? This would establish Muslims as a protected class and prevent honest discussion of how Islamic jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism.
What is behind Trump's willingness to abandon the freedom of speech? Money – lots of Trump money, in Muslim countries. Arabian Business reported in 2014 that in Dubai, "the Trump Estates includes more than 100 luxury villas overlooking a Trump-branded golf course." When a journalist asked him, "Mr. Trump, the workers who build your villas make less than $200 a month. Are you satisfied?" Trump refused to answer.
Trump has extensive holdings in Dubai. His golf club there was voted "the Best Golf Development in the Middle East." Lawrence Glick, the executive vice president of strategic development for The Trump Organization, explained how Trump sees Dubai as a huge money-making opportunity: "When you take a look at our database, which is millions of customers that buy two-plus homes all over the world, one of the places they want to come to is Dubai. It's kind of like a Beverly Hills meets Las Vegas."
And that makes it clear why Trump, while addressing immigration, doesn't speak about the hundreds of thousands coming over from Muslim nations unvetted, battle-hardened from jihad. And while he viciously attacks me for refusing to adhere to Islamic law, what has he said about the Indian national who was charged in the United Arab Emirates with "insulting Islam?" Dubai is the UAE's most populous city. He has also not said a word about the American who was jailed in the UAE for "cyber slander against Islam."
At his announcement of his presidential candidacy, Trump said this about the Islamic State (ISIS): "And, I can tell, some of the candidates, they went in. They didn't know the air-conditioner didn't work. They sweated like dogs. They didn't know the room was too big, because they didn't have anybody there. How are they going to beat ISIS? I don't think it's gonna happen."
The fact is that Donald Trump struck a chord when he spoke out on immigration. He said a lot of things that a lot of people are thinking, and the fact is that immigration is a critical issue, particularly now, with our national security hanging by a thread.
But he's wrong on the First Amendment. He's wrong on the cornerstone of our democracy. The freedom of speech is elemental. If he doesn't get that, he couldn't possibly be a good President.
America would be hard-pressed to trust a President with extensive investments in sharia nations.