While many Americans are calling for greater unity in the country, anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan is in Tehran spewing his usual hateful message including reportedly leading a chant of “Death to America” and calling America the “Great Satan.” Despite the reprehensible comments in support of a nation that spreads terrorism and oppresses its own people, I still believe that it is protected speech despite the existence of the Logan Act, which makes it illegal for citizens to intervene in disputes or controversies between the United States and foreign governments. That Act is widely viewed as unconstitutional and has never been used to convict a single U.S. citizen since it was enacted in 1799.
Farrakhan pledged to fight the enemies of the Iranian people and said “I would like to stay alongside you to stop their plots.” On the issue of the new sanctions, he said that this was just the “Great Satan” being the “Great Satan.” He calls upon Iranians to remain steadfast in their movement to create Islamic governments throughout the world and to combat the United States in its efforts.
Farrakhan presence and commentary in Iran is the greatest possible defense for our nation. Surely some Iranians might marvel at the fact that such comments against their own country would lead to arrest if not death. So the country that Farrakhan denounces is the country that allows a hate-spewing anti-Semitic hypocrite like him to continue to speak and thrive.
That does not mean that the rest of us cannot, again, denounce Farrakhan and his Islamic movement. Indeed, leaders like Bill Clinton has been recently criticized for sharing a stage with Farrakhan (even though he once compared Hillary Clinton to Hitler). The stage at Aretha Franklin’s funeral also featured Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson who have previously appeared with Farrakhan as has Barack Obama. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the Democratic National Committee deputy chair has also been criticized for his past association with Farrakhan, though he later denounced Farrakhan’s views. That includes a private dinner of Ellison with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Farrakhan in 2013.
Yet, we can condemn the speaker without criminalizing the speech. That is what distinguishes us from the clerics of Iran. Freedom.