I noticed during the Presidential campaign Mr Obama's distain for free speech; or at least speech that was critical of him anyway. I asked at the time
Is this what we are in for with an Obama Presidency? A systematic attack on the Bill of Rights?
Now that he has become President, we have seen the trend continue with the White House's open attack on Fox News. When called on it by "friendly" media, that is media perceived as friendly to the White House, their words need to be recalled so they are not branded the next Fox News-like organization.
On National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" Wednesday, NPR political editor Ken Rudin said the White House campaign against Fox News is a bad idea. "It's not only aggressive, it's almost Nixonesque," Rudin said. "I mean, you think of what Nixon and Agnew did with their enemies list and their attacks on the media; certainly Vice President Agnew's constant denunciation of the media. Of course, then it was a conservative president denouncing a liberal media, and of course, a lot of good liberals said, 'Oh, that's ridiculous. That's an infringement on the freedom of press.' And now you see a lot of liberals almost kind of applauding what the White House is doing to Fox News, which I think is distressing."
It's not the usual thing you hear from NPR analysts. Reaction from the NPR audience was negative, and within 24 hours, Rudin was in backtrack mode. "I made a boneheaded mistake yesterday," Rudin wrote on his NPR blog. "Comparing the tactics of the Nixon administration -- which bugged and intimidated and harrassed journalists -- to that of the Obama administration was foolish, facile, ridiculous and, ultimately, embarrassing to me. I should have known better and, in fact, I do know better. I was around during the Nixon years. I am fully cognizant of what they did and attempted to do."
"I apologize for a dumb comparison."
Rudin's full-180 earned warm praise from NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard. "While it was a dumb thing to say, I applaud Rudin for quickly apologizing," Shepard wrote. "Journalists are going to make mistakes -- not intentionally but they will happen. Acknowledging them goes a long way to maintaining credibility."
And thus, disaster was averted.
But it doesn't stop there. In a less well publicized move, the Obama Administration voted to encourage blasphemy laws at the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva a few weeks ago.
While attracting surprisingly little attention, the Obama administration supported the effort of largely Muslim nations in the U.N. Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to free speech for any "negative racial and religious stereotyping." The exception was made as part of a resolution supporting free speech that passed this month, but it is the exception, not the rule that worries civil libertarians. Though the resolution was passed unanimously, European and developing countries made it clear that they remain at odds on the issue of protecting religions from criticism. It is viewed as a transparent bid to appeal to the "Muslim street" and our Arab allies, with the administration seeking greater coexistence through the curtailment of objectionable speech.
The Geneva-based Human Rights Council was established in March 2006 to replace the 60-year-old Human Rights Commission, which lost international credibility after countries with abysmal rights records, such as Sudan and Zimbabwe, were allowed to join and thwart criticism of their actions.
The Bush administration refused to join the new rights body, saying it was not convinced that it represented much of an improvement over its predecessor. John R. Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations when the council was created, said at the time that the United States would have more "leverage in terms of the performance of the new council" by not participating in it and thus signaling a rejection of "business as usual."
Reached Tuesday, Bolton denounced the Obama administration's decision. "This is like getting on board the Titanic after it's hit the iceberg," he said. "This is the theology of engagement at work. There is no concrete American interest served by this, and it legitimizes something that doesn't deserve legitimacy."
The Obama administration and rights advocates concede that the Human Rights Council has failed to emerge as a powerful champion of human rights, saying it has devoted excessive attention to alleged abuses by Israel and too little to abuses in places such as Darfur, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
Participating is one thing, actively endorsing blasphemt laws is something else entirely.
But it seems to be consistent with the current Administrations apparant disdain for free speech.
Hope you're not an atheist.
Or a Fox News employee....