The day after a horrific shooting spree by what appears to be a radicalized Muslim man and his partner in San Bernardino, California, Attorney General Loretta Lynch pledged to a Muslim advocacy and lobbying group that she would take aggressive action against anyone who used “anti-Muslim rhetoric” that “edges toward violence.”
Speaking to the audience at the Muslim Advocates‘ 10th anniversary dinner Thursday, Lynch said her “greatest fear” is the “incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric” in America and vowed to prosecute any guilty of what she deemed violence-inspiring speech.
“The fear that you have just mentioned is in fact my greatest fear as a prosecutor, as someone who is sworn to the protection of all of the American people, which is that the rhetoric will be accompanied by acts of violence,” she said.
“Now obviously this is a country that is based on free speech, but when it edges towards violence, when we see the potential for someone lifting that mantle of anti-Muslim rhetoric—or, as we saw after 9/11, violence directed at individuals who may not even be Muslims but perceived to be Muslims, and they will suffer just as much—when we see that we will take action,” said Lynch.
After touting the numbers of “investigations into acts of anti-Muslim hatred” and “bigoted actions” against Muslims launched by her DOJ, Lynch suggested the Constitution does not protect “actions predicated on violent talk” and pledged to prosecute those responsible for such actions.
“I think it’s important that as we again talk about the importance of free speech we make it clear that actions predicated on violent talk are not America,” said Lynch. “They are not who we are, they are not what we do, and they will be prosecuted.”
Assuring the pro-Muslim group that “we stand with you,” Lynch said she would use her Justice Department to protect Muslims from “violence” and discrimination.
“My message not just to the Muslim community but to all Americans is ‘We cannot give in to the fear that these backlashes are really based on,'” said Lynch.
It is painfully clear that, like her predecessor Eric Holder, Lynch is far more concerned with promoting the social justice agenda than protecting the Constitutional rights of American citizens. What exactly is speech that “edges toward violence”? What exactly are “actions predicated on violent talk”? In the end, it is whatever she decides it to mean.
At a press conference Thursday, Lynch termed the San Bernardino shootings a “wonderful opportunity” to change the nature of police work. “We’re at the point where these issues have come together really like never before in law enforcement thought and in our nation’s history and it gives us a wonderful opportunity and a wonderful moment to really make significant change,” she told reporters.
UPDATE: After strong backlash against her comments on speech that “edges toward violence,” Lynch seemed to, as Politico puts it, “recalibrate” her language in a press conference Monday, underscoring that her department would only prosecute “deeds not words.”
Partial transcript via BuzzFeed. This article has been updated and expanded to include more statements from Lynch.