From our No-Good-Deed-Goes-Unpunished comes this Toronto Star article, "Town puzzled by memorial to slain teen," about the memorial for honor killing victim Aqsa Parvez in Pelham, Ontario.
The memorial to Aqsa in Pelham is a textbook case of how political correctness and self-aggrandizement can ruin a good initiative. In the Toronto Star piece, Scott McLeod and everyone else backpedals furiously to make sure that no one gets the idea that their memorial has anything to do with Islam or Pamela Geller. In reality, she is the one who started it, in December 2008, as you can see here. She first published photos of Aqsa's unmarked grave, which McLeod just happened to see somewhere, on December 12, 2008. McLeod only entered the scene in February, in consultation with Pamela Geller. Nor is this a case of simple journalistic bias, for McLeod has been acting this way for many months.
If this had just been a case of someone taking credit for someone else's work, I wouldn't have said anything about it -- but when the one who is responsible is not only not credited, but demonized, it becomes important to speak out. For this same tactic hamstrings such efforts whenever they're attempted, and those who are defending human rights against Islamic supremacism and violence should not let it go unchallenged. We have to stop living in fear. If the people in Pelham wanted to memorialize Aqsa and the victims of honor killing, they should have done so wholeheartedly and without apology. Instead, they've put themselves in the position of doing something and apologizing for it at the same time, and furiously dissociating themselves from the one who started the whole thing.
We will win no battles, much less wars, that way.
Dear Mr. McLeod,
I am writing to you this morning because I am appalled at some remarks you made in today's Toronto Star piece about the Pelham memorial to Aqsa Parvez.
You kindly wrote to me some months ago to thank me for my role in the attempt to honor Aqsa's memory, and I responded by telling you that the initiative was entirely the brainchild of Pamela Geller. I provided some logistical assistance, but the idea to honor Aqsa and, by extension, all the victims of honor killing, and to show thereby that Western nations would not let this barbaric practice stand, was all Pamela's. You also indicated that you clearly knew that this was Pamela's initiative when you more recently gave her and me honorary firefighter status in Pelham.
The Toronto Star story, however, suggests that you saw "a haunting photo of her burial site" and decided that something must be done, and that "about the same time, Pamela Geller, author of the controversial U.S.-based AtlasShrugs.com blog, got involved and was later joined by Robert Spencer of the Jihad Watch blog."
I expect that this was no coincidence. I expect that you saw the photo of Aqsa's unmarked grave on the Atlas Shrugs site, and got involved in trying to further Pamela's efforts, rather than just coincidentally happening to start working on the same track she was at the same time.
But that's not the worst of it. The worst of it is that you threw her under the bus in the article, when you took a quite different tone in your earlier communication with me. The Star says that Pamela's blog "has an anti-Muslim tone." Instead of standing up and defending her site as a bastion of clear thinking and defense of the West against the horrors of Islamic supremacism that took Aqsa's life, you accepted the Star's tendentious characterization: "McLeod said he was aware of Geller's blog and its reputation but insists there was no political motive or anti-Muslim sentiment behind his decision to find a way to remember the Mississauga teen."
I am sure there wasn't any "anti-Muslim sentiment" behind your memorial -- as is evidenced by its silly, stupid, meaningless inscription, "Remembering new Canadians lost to the quest of integrating cultures."
Aqsa wasn't murdered by the "quest of integrating cultures." Aqsa wasn't "lost" to any such quest, the way an army would lose a soldier in battle or a construction crew would lose a worker who slipped through the scaffolding on a highrise. Aqsa was murdered by her father, who was acting upon deeply ingrained Islamic principles cheapening the lives of women and legitimizing the killing of children by their fathers. These principles are enshrined in Islamic law (and yes, I can give you chapter and verse.) It isn't "anti-Muslim" to stand against that. It is anti-human to dissemble and lie about it. It just enables honor killings to keep happening.
But my main point is not your weaselly inscription. My main point is that you distanced yourself from Pamela Geller -- not once but twice, as when you say later in the article: "We never took any of the money raised through the initial fundraising campaign organized by Geller." I know that to be true, but once again you had an opportunity to credit her with originating this initiative, and to defend her full-hearted commitment to women's rights and human rights, and to refute the hateful mischaracterizations of the Star.
But you didn't.
I was always uneasy about your effort, both because of the politically correct dissembling of the inscription and because of your earlier distancing yourself from Pamela and her work on this.
Without Pamela, you would not have your memorial in Pelham, and you know that. Without Pamela, it would not say "remembered and free," which you ripped off from the gravestone inscription Pamela devised for Aqsa, "Beloved, remembered, and free." I can give direct testimony to the fact that that tripartite inscription was Pamela's idea, as she said it in a phone conversation with me, and we agreed it would be perfect for Aqsa's gravestone.
It is not Pamela Geller who is the self-aggrandizing opportunist here. It is you. I hope that every time you pass that Aqsa memorial, you feel a sense of shame. In closing all I can say is that I hope you were misquoted and misrepresented. If so, you owe Pamela Geller a public clarification. If you were quoted accurately, you owe her a public apology. In either case, man up.