Brooks: Don’t Expect Radical Islam to Tolerate ‘Offensive Talk’ if US College Campus Don’t

On Friday’s broadcast of PBS’s “NewsHour,” New York Times columnist David Brooks discussed the free speech implications of last week’s terror attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

According to Brooks, Charlie Hebdo would have difficult time on any college campus in the United States, to which he argued if we’re to expect radical Islam to embrace tolerance regarding speech, we should start by setting an example at home.

“The thing about war is your enemies define — remind you who you are,” Brooks said. “And so we are reminded of our belief in pluralism and our belief in multiculturalism. But there are just a range of issues. How is Europe going to react from this?  Will they go to Le Pen?  Will they not?  How do we think about our security issues? When I think back home, I think of how we think about tolerance. And the point I try to make that everyone was saying, I am — Je suis Charlie, or I am with Charlie Hebdo. But if Charlie Hebdo, the magazine, newspaper tried to open up on any college campus in this country, they would be shut down in 30 seconds. They would run afoul of every political correctness, every hate speech code, because they are offensive in some ways.”

“And so my point for this country is that if we are going to tolerate offensive talk, or if we’re going to expect, frankly Islamist radicals to tolerate offensive talk, then we have to tolerate offensive talk,” Brooks continued. “And we have to invite people to speak at our campuses who are offensive some of the time. And we have to widen our latitude in that area. And this should be a reminder that we have cracked down on that and we have strangled debate. And if you are going to stand up and say I’m with Charlie, then you should also stand up at home and say, I protect people even if they offend me.”

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor


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