We know that when Michele Bachmann speaks, even fact-checkers can’t fully cover all of her dubious and debunked claims in just a single article. Now that Bachmann is completely engrossed in promoting her latest conspiracy theory focusing on the supposed Muslim Brotherhood “penetration” of the US government, she took to The Janet Mefferd Show to misrepresent President Obama’s address to the United Nations General Assembly to claim that Obama is not only refusing to defend the freedom of speech but may be even actively backing the curtailment of speech rights in favor of Sharia law.
The congresswoman told Mefferd that Islamic countries may be using “riots and terrorism” to ensure that “Sharia law will dominated over our United States Constitution.” “Our president either doesn’t know what’s happening or he’s playing along with what their goal is,” Bachmann said. “Either option is very dangerous for the free speech rights and the protection and safety of the American people.”
She also failed to mention that when Obama criticized “those who slander the prophet of Islam” it was part of a larger chastisement of religious bigotry, including against desecration of images of Jesus Christ, the destruction of churches and Holocaust denial.
Bachmann: We have just had four Americans killed, including two marines and an ambassador, and our President says to the UN the future does not belong to those who speak against the prophet? We need to remember that the fifty-seven Muslim governments across the world have what they call a ten year plan, it began in 2005 and their goal by 2015 is to criminalize any speech anywhere in the world that speaks against Islam or against the Prophet Mohammad. This is their plan. So their pretext is to find something they can point to and then have riots and terrorism and then force the rest of us to give up our free speech rights so that then that means their law, Sharia law, will dominate over our United States Constitution. That’s really what’s happening. Our president either doesn’t know what’s happening or he’s playing along with what their goal is. Either option is very dangerous for the free speech rights and the protection and safety of the American people.
Bachmann also maintained that Obama was simultaneously fashioning himself to be “‘Emperor of the World,’ telling the world what to do,” while also catering to the wishes of Muslim countries. She said that the President refused to make clear that “under no circumstances will the United States ever subvert the Constitution to Sharia law” and did not “articulate American values” against the coming global Islamic caliphate.
Bachmann: It almost sounds like he’s trying to speak as “‘Emperor of the World,’ telling the world what to do, as opposed to being the President of the United States who should be adamant and say it’s outrageous that these Islamist countries should be calling on the United States to take away the constitutional protections of the American people. This is very important to think that the United States would restrict speech of Americans. Now the president did talk in his remarks about the fact that we do have a constitutional right to free speech but really the only focus of that speech should have been under no circumstances will the United States ever subvert the Constitution to Sharia law. We didn’t get that kind of a forceful statement from our President.
Mefferd: No and that goes back to the day right after the consulate attack I think Mitt Romney did so much better than the President himself and saying we’re Americans, we believe in free speech, this was unacceptable. From Obama, it was sort of a ‘Chris Stevens was a really great guy’ and that was about it.
Bachmann: It was; it was ridiculous. Here we’ve been attacked, these were acts of war, what happened to us in Cairo, what happened to us in Libya, these were acts of war. Again, don’t forget these fifty-seven Muslim governments have a ten year plan: their goal is to criminalize speech against Islam. Why? Because they intend to establish a Caliphate, an Islamic government, across the entire world so that it isn’t just our speech rights that we would give up, we would have to give up all rights eventually and we would have to conform to Sharia law, the Islamic law. As women know, this would be a disaster for women, for freedom, for free speech. We’re not an Islamic nation, people can believe whatever they want to believe here, but we’re not an Islamic nation, we believe in freedom and I only wish our President would articulate American values. That’s one thing we’re getting from Mitt Romney, we are not getting it from Barack Obama. I’ll say it again, I believe he is the most dangerous president we have ever had on foreign policy and for that reason alone he must not have a second term.
Clearly, Bachmann missed the part in Obama’s speech (or all of it) where he forcefully defended the freedom of speech, expression, and religion as American values and unambiguously rejected violent extremism and discrimination against women and minorities.
I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. And the answer is enshrined in our laws: Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.
Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. As President of our country and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day -- (laughter) -- and I will always defend their right to do so.
Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views, even views that we profoundly disagree with. We do not do so because we support hateful speech, but because our founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities. We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech -- the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.
Now, I know that not all countries in this body share this particular understanding of the protection of free speech. We recognize that. But in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how do we respond?
And on this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence. There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There’s no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There’s no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.
The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt -- it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted, “Muslims, Christians, we are one.” The future must not belong to those who bully women -- it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons.
The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country’s resources -- it must be won by the students and entrepreneurs, the workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people. Those are the women and men that America stands with; theirs is the vision we will support.
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.
Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims and Shiite pilgrims. It’s time to heed the words of Gandhi: “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies, that’s the vision we will support.