What does it say about America when an ex-Soviet dissident finds refuge here from totalitarianism yet gets thrown in jail for exercising his First Amendment rights on the campus of a public university? It says we have woefully fallen away from being “the land of the free.”

Oleg Atbashian’s memories of his former Soviet Union came rushing back when George Mason University police tightened the handcuffs around his wrists on November 4th and threw him into a cramped prison cell for 14 hours and all because he spoke out against the rabid anti-Semitism that thrives on GMU’s politically correct campus. Atbashian was charged with a class 6 felony for destruction of property and now faces five years in prison for hanging removable posters that confront the terror-tied campus hate group Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP).

“I have designed posters that expose the genocidal nature of anti-Israel activism and the deadly consequences of supporting pro-terror groups,” Atbashian said. “On the eve of the SJP gathering at George Mason, I posted stickers with these designs in various conspicuous spots on campus. They were noticed. The GMU authorities became annoyed enough to mobilize their police force to look for the perpetrators.”

On one of the posters, there are three shadowy figures. The first is a terrorist holding a machine gun representing Hamas, the terror group seeking complete annihilation of Israel, standing over bodies in pools of blood. He is playing marionette with the second figure representing the Hamas-funded American Muslims for Palestine, a group formed by a UC Berkeley professor who also co-founded the final puppet of the trio, SJP: “The chief sponsor of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activities on campus,” as the poster states.

The second poster asks, “Think the terrorist war won’t come here? Think again.” These words are accented with three silhouettes representing Europe, America, and Israel. A giant target centers on the Jewish state. Atbashian teamed with the David Horowitz Freedom Center to produce these posters tagged, “#StopCampusSupport4Terrorism.”

Campus police claimed Atbashian “super-glued” the posters around campus; a bold-faced lie. It was a water-based glue that washes off in the rain. Any of the stickers that were used could easily be peeled off or removed with a simple cleaner, but the police estimated the cost of the damage at $2,500. Also a lie. The arresting officer even failed to read Atbashian his Miranda rights and tightened the handcuffs hard enough to leave bruises. Bail was set at $8,000 which his wife posted.

“Back in my Soviet dissident days, when I was collecting signatures in defense of Andrei Sakharov, I was screamed at, threatened, and lectured by the KGB and Communist functionaries,” Atbashian said. “What I never imagined was that in the United States, the land of the free, I would not only be subjected to similar treatment, but go to jail.”

“What I did was non-violent and non-destructive mischief, exclusively to irritate the powers-that-be and, hopefully, to provoke them and others to start talking about our message and thus acknowledging the existence of opposing viewpoints,” he added.

“I did, after all, break the law,” Atbashian continued. “And so did Rosa Parks when she broke the law in order to draw attention to the injustice. Her example, followed by many, proved that civil disobedience can be effective in changing unjust laws and customs. I can argue that in our case, we were handcuffed and spent a day in jail not as much for the fact of posting the stickers, but for breaking a much more important, unwritten campus law – we confronted ideological uniformity, also known as political correctness, which in today’s American universities is as oppressive as racism was in Alabama in 1955.”

“I went to that campus to challenge that uniformity, not to get arrested. But if being thrown in jail will help break the cowardly silence on campus, I will consider it a small price to pay for starting an honest conversation about the festering ideological intolerance, lack of free speech, and totalitarian impulses at GMU and other American universities.”

These anti-Semitic groups have free rein on campus to spread hate and lies about Jews with the blessing of passive administrators who cater to the politically correct mobs that are now in control. But say when this student said one thing in opposition to these Islamic-funded groups, and he breached protocol. We are witnessing a time in America when pro-terrorism speech is protected, and pro-Jewish sentiment is punishable by law. Fascism is alive and well in America.

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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