ROGER KIMBALL: ANNE BARNHARDT… CULTURE HERO
SEE THESE VIDEOS:
Even if you don’t do anything else today, please take a moment to look at the two videos that Ann Barnhardt, an intrepid Colorado resident, made a couple of days ago responding to Senator Lindsey Graham’s spineless attack on Terry Jones, the Florida minister who presided over a “trial” and burning of a Koran late last month. I link to them at the end of this post.
A recap: When publicized and condemned by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and officials in Pakistan last week, Jones’s bonfire provided the occasion for the deadly riots in Afghanistan that (so far) have left a dozen people dead, including U.N. and NATO personnel. The instant response from the liberal establishment was condemnation — not of the rioters who were, as is their wont, murdering for Allah, but of Terry Jones. As I noted in this space Monday, Islamophiliacs from Time’s Joe Klein to Senators Harry Reid and Lindsey Graham blamed Jones for the rampage. Even General David Petraeus condemned the Koran burning as “hateful, intolerant, extremely disrespectful.” On Face the Nation, Lindsey Graham said
“I wish we could find some way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. During World War II you had limits on what you could do if it inspired the enemy. Any time we can push back here in American against actions like this that put our troops at risk, we ought to do it.”
Sobering, isn’t it, to realize how quickly folks entrusted with upholding the Constitution are willing to dispense with its protections? I was moderately tart about these latest exhibitions of what I called “preemptive capitulation.” But my response was a veritable valentine compared with Ms. Barnhardt’s eloquent demolition. There are some theatrics in her presentation. She repeatedly calls Graham a “jackass” — a “stupid, stupid jackass” on one occasion. In part two, she reads various passages from the Koran — those memorable bijoux that advocate the murder of Jews, infidels, and apostates, the rape of women prisoners, pedophilia, and beating of insufficiently submissive wives, etc. — and then rips out the offending pages and burns them a glass fire-bowl. Crowning detail: she has bookmarked the passages with rashers of uncooked bacon. (“Raw bacon,” she explains, “makes the best Koranic bookmark.”)
Ms. Barnhardt describes the reading and burning of the Koran as “the main event.” It is a riveting performance, her declamation and analysis of all those goads to violence and mayhem, followed by the the incineration, one leaf after the next, of the dozen or so pages she chose: “Evil, evil garbage, in it goes and up in flames!”
But perhaps even more impressive is Ms. Barnhardt’s excoriation of Lindsey Graham and his contemptible suggestion that the free speech of American citizens should be curtailed in the face of Islamic intimidation.
Read it again: “I wish we could find some way to hold people accountable,” said this U.S. Senator. “Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. During World War II you had limits on what you could do if it inspired the enemy. Any time we can push back here in American against actions like this that put our troops at risk, we ought to do it.”
Ms. Barnhardt picks this apart phrase by disgraceful phrase. “Hold people accountable”? Accountable for what? she asks.
“For exercising their Constitutionally protected and divinely ordained right to freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion? Hey Jackass, have you not read the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States?”
What Lindsey Graham wants to do, she continunes, is to “elevate the totalitarian political system masquerading as a religion called Islam to a status which
supersedes and overrides the First Amendment to the Constitution and thus places it in a position of specially protected legal superiority wherein criticism of Islam or failure to show proper and sufficient deference and honor for Islamic texts is a crime. Hey Lindsey, you Jackass, you know what that’s called? It’s called Sharia. What the hell is wrong with you?”
Delicious, no? Ms. Barnhardt then announces that she will burn a Koran in a few minutes and invites Little Lindsey to have her arrested and dragged before before Congress and held to account. “Do it. Nothing would make me happier. I would relish the opportunity to explain to you how exactly it is that we do things in the United States of America. If you want to pick a fight, Sir, you go right ahead, but understand that if you pick a fight with me the only way it ends is with you sobbing in the men’s room.”
Why can’t we have Senators like this?
Ms. Barnhardt then moves on to Little Lindsay’s declaration that “Free speech is a great idea but we’re in a war.”
Point One: free speech is not just a great idea, it is “bedrock principle of Western civilization and the United States.”
Point Two: “Individuals are free sovereign agents. Individuals are not property or drones of the state. The government doesn’t tell the people what to think and say. The people tell the government what to think and say through the mechanisms” representative government.
Point three: Intellectual snobbery. Ms. Barnhardt discerns it in Little Lindsey’s remarks. Terry Jones is a redneck Southern preacher with a drawl and a handlebar mustache to match. No fancy Ivy league education. Ergo, he’s not eligible for the same sort of Constitutional protection that, for example, Little Lindsey and his peers enjoy. “Listen, Jackass, it doesn’t work that way. The First Amendment applies to all American citizens equally. It does not operate on a sliding scale based upon how expensive an education one received, what one’s income is, or whether or not one is invited to tony soirées in Georgetown.
Ms. Barnhardt then takes up and demolishes Little Lindsey’s invocation of World War II as a precedent for clamping down on free speech. “Lindsey, you Jackass, the only prohibitions on speech during World War II and all other wars pertained to speech which would give aid and comfort to the enemy, not speech which demoralized, discouraged, or degraded the enemy.” She then enumerates various examples from those World War II posters depicting the Nazis and Japanese as deranged animals to cartoons that “ruthless mocked and degraded” Germans, Italians, and the Japanese. “The informal prohibition during the war was on speech that was defeatist or conciliatory towards the enemy, which is exactly what you are engaging in, you stupid, stupid, Jackass.”
And so it goes. Little Lindsey wants to “push back” against people like Terry Jones who burn the Koran or otherwise criticize Islam because, he says, it “puts the troops at risk.” “Push back?” Ms. Barnhardt asks. “Since the free speech in question is by a loyal, law-abiding American citizen against the sworn enemy of the United States and its Constitution — which is Islam — and you Senator Graham are talking about ‘pushing back’ using the force of the government of the United States, it sure sounds to me like you have decided that the United States government is allied with Islam against the people of the Untied States who do not show sufficient deference and respect for Islam.”
Oh, and as for putting our troops at risk, “the only thing that is putting our troops at risk at are the suicidal, defeatist rules of engagement which prevent our brave soldiers from actually fighting and defeating the enemy. You hang our boys out on the lines of battle and then refuse to give them ammunition, refuse to allow to engage the enemy without permission from a flipping attorney, and refuse to allow them to engage ‘civilians’ while fighting a force that is 100 percent comprised of civilians. How dare you accuse us of putting our troops at risk.”
There’s more. Watch both videos. They are inspirational. Ann Barnhardt opens with the observation that she is “apparently one of the very, very last people left in Western Civilization who possesses any quantity of brains and balls simultaneously.” She is probably right. Thank God for her.
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