RECOMMENDED READING: “In Pam Geller’s World, Everybody Jihads”
… treating Islam as a monolith, denying the possibility of reform, and demonizing Muslims en masse is not the answer.
– Cathy Young
Pam Geller and Robert Spencer are being viewed as free speech champions for their “Draw Muhammad” contest, which turned tragic in Dallas last week. But once a moderate Muslim begins speaking, they quickly turn into what they hate.
The day after two gunmen were killed by police while trying to shoot their way into a Garland, Texas community center hosting a Mohammed cartoon contest, reformist American Muslim activist Zuhdi Jasser appeared on Fox News not only to condemn the attack but to unconditionally affirm the right to free expression—including the right to insult Islam—and praise defiance against blasphemy bans.
What Jasser graciously did not mention was that the people whose speech he was defending—contest organizers and anti-Islam polemicists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer—had viciously attacked him in the past. In a 2011 article published by the right-wing website The American Thinker in response to Geller’s screed on the same site, Jasser documented the duo’s smear campaign in which he was sometimes dismissed as a faux Muslim and sometimes denounced as a camouflaged extremist practicing taqiyya, the doctrine which supposedly allows Muslims to lie in the cause of Islam.
This sordid episode is typical of the way Geller and her comrade-in-arms Spencer, co-founders of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, conduct their misnamed “anti-jihadist” battle. It is also a good example of why the two are no heroes for free speech. No, Geller did not “provoke” the terror attack in Garland, as a number of pundits (and even the New York Times editorial board) have deplorably suggested; her cartoon contest is not the moral equivalent of the attack, and she does not need to apologize for the exercise of her First Amendment rights or for the terrorists’ actions. She does, however, have to answer for a lengthy record of peddling anti-Muslim hysteria, targeting Muslims’ First Amendment right to worship, smearing innocent people as jihadists, and even excusing the slaughter of Muslims in the former Yugoslavia. We cannot allow terrorists to curb our speech; but we also cannot allow them to turn hatemongers into heroes.
Whatever valid concerns Geller, Spencer, and their allies may raise about political Islamism wind up being eclipsed by the fact that they not only conflate Islamist radicalism with all Islam but make disturbingly little distinction between criticism of Islam and hostility toward Muslims.
Read the rest of the article at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/10/in-pam-geller-s-world-everybody-jihads.html
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: Young points out that, “… , what’s obfuscated by the hate is that some “anti-jihadists” do have legitimate points that are too often dismissed by liberal commentators in debates over Islam and Islamophobia”. We couldn’t agree more.