Opinion

KASSAM: Australia’s Left Wants To Ban Me; Is This What Tolerance Looks Like?

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Raheem Kassam Contributor

Conservatives are banned and stifled on social media and by traditional media outlets, too. This we know to be true, despite CNBC’s sloppy protests to the contrary.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) recently implored national networks in the United States: “Don’t let Neo-Nazis on TV.”

Of course, neo-Nazis don’t really go on television. And when they do, it is usually in the form of CNN attempting to use them as a stick by which to beat President Trump.

So when AOC tweets about keeping “neo-Nazis” off the airwaves, she’s not talking about actual neo-Nazis. She’s talking about ordinary conservatives who she brands neo-Nazis in order to vilify and de-platform them.

I am one of those ordinary conservatives, and in the last few weeks I have witnessed — though scarcely been a part of — a national debate in Australia as to whether or not I should be allowed into the country to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Australia.

Bemusing, for sure. Especially since almost no Australian outlets have bothered to contact me for comment about the alarming allegations made against me. I’m not allowed a say. Because I’m not really the left’s target. I just happen to be a decent enough reflection of conservative nationalists in general. They think taking me out represents some big victory. It doesn’t. I’ll just go back to playing ping pong and getting massages.

I guess I represent modern conservatism well enough for me to be one of the leading spokesmen for our movement, as far as the Australian left is concerned. I’ve delivered speeches on the main stage at the CPAC conference in Washington, D.C. for the past three years now.

I don’t think I said anything particularly incendiary, apart from taking a few deserved pops at London’s feckless mayor, Sadiq Khan – a man who once asininely told a journalist that I was behind death threats aimed at him.

If Khan wants to learn about death threats, try being an apostate and a public figure in the conservative movement. 

And for the record, I don’t think anyone should be violent toward Sadiq Khan, AOC, Australian Sen. Kristina Keneally — who has said unkind things about me — nor anyone else. It’s never really been in my nature. As the Spectator recently pointed out, I’m a lover, not a fighter. Ahem.

The Barry Goldwater quote springs to mind: “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

The left — be they Black Lives Matter protesters, Antifa, or otherwise — appear to agree with Goldwater.

“No Justice? No Peace!” is a common refrain at their rallies.

So this isn’t a question of whether or not dissent (in pursuit of justice) is tolerated. It is a question of who gets to dissent.

Sen. Keneally doesn’t want me in Australia (tough luck, she’s not in government) because I have expressed concerns over the role of fundamentalist Islam and fundamental interpretations of the Koran in public.

I grew up in Islam. I have studied the Koran at length. As the poet Omar Khayyam (who would probably be denied entry to Australia under a Keneally regime) once noted: “The Koran! well, come put me to the test / Lovely old book in hideous error drest / Believe me, I can quote the Koran too, The unbeliever knows his Koran best.”

For Keneally and her comrades to brand me an extremist for having the temerity to criticize the religion and/or its founding texts is tantamount to declaring that I should have never left Islam.

That somehow it continues to own me 13 years after I lapsed as a member of the faith. And that criticism of it, from one of its past adherents, is intolerable.

Can you imagine the same thought process applying to a former Christian? Of course not.

Former Christians are lauded by the left. They throw parties for them, put them on television, and demand the world listens to their stories of how someone was mean to them in Sunday school once. Or of how their liberal, metropolitan upbringing was at odds with the church’s teachings on LGBT matters or otherwise.

I don’t think of myself as an extremist though, even in defense of liberty, I’m afraid. I believe I am a reasonable and rational person, which is what leads large companies to publish my books, and the likes of BBC, Wall Street Journal, and even the Washington Post, the Guardian, and BuzzFeed journalists to regularly call me asking my opinions.

I am the second child of two Indian immigrants to Britain (via Tanzania), and I grew up in a pretty normal London suburb. The only thing “extreme” about me is my love for a pint of Whitstable Bay ale. But I’m even cutting back on that.

I’m not on the defensive over this for my own public relations purposes. This is about the shape of things to come in the United States, unless urgent action is taken to re-establish the freedom-orientated principles of America’s founding.

In recent weeks we have heard countless testimonials of how America’s founding principles must be circumvented in the interests of modernity and modern leftism. The re-raging gun control argument is always an integral part of this.

And what happens when the left does get their candidate into the Oval Office in the next few decades?

Will we see Senator Keneally-style politicians — elitist snobs — banning people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who suffered dearly under fundamentalist Islamic edicts?

Will ordinary conservatives be proscribed from the airwaves, because AOC and her “squad” falsely claim we are radicalizing people, because we oppose things like jihad or female genital mutilation?

Australia may be 8,000 miles away from the West Coast of the United States, but the illiberal and intolerant thought processes of the left are becoming very real, very fast.

It’s not enough to complain about social media bias, anymore. The de-platforming has now reached the real world.

Stopping a 33-year-old man like me entering a supposedly free and democratic nation because someone was upset by something I said reflects an irreversible downfall if we allow it to take root.

I don’t want to leave that world to my children.

Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) is a Claremont Institute fellow and speaker at CPAC Australia. He is the author of two bestselling books: “No Go Zones” and “Enoch Was Right.”


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.