In FrontPage this morning I take the Leftist media’s campaign against my colleague Pamela Geller as a case study in how the Left — and the Right — operates:
Over the last year, as I have been working with Pamela Geller on various initiatives in defense of human rights against Islamic supremacism, I have witnessed her rise to becoming one of America’s foremost and most prominent voices for freedom on the scene today. In response, the Leftist media establishment has mounted an all-out assault against her, with hit pieces coming virtually every day, following classic Alinskyite tactics. Her treatment in the media has been a textbook case of how the Left follows Rules for Radicals author Saul Alinsky’s playbook to destroy its most formidable opponents. And the response from the Right? Silence — raising larger questions of how such a fractious group can ever achieve victory.
“Pick the target,” Alinsky directs, “freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Because of her work in raising awareness of Islamic honor killing and the death penalty for apostates, and above all in opposing the Ground Zero mega-mosque, Pamela Geller’s public presence increased swiftly. She appeared on the Hannity Show and other Fox shows, as well as on 60 Minutes, CNN, Joy Behar’s show, and numerous other Left-leaning media outlets in the U.S. and Europe. She was the subject of a lavish but slyly contemptuous profile in the New York Times. And as her notoriety grow amidst all this, she was picked as the target.
First, the hard-Left self-styled media watchdog Media Matters drew up a dossier full of distortions, half-truths, and outright lies about Geller. They directly and explicitly challenged media outlets, as the Times profile noted, “to stop presenting her as an expert” – but they did so “ineffectually.” Ineffectual or not, however, some of the Media Matters farrago was featured in that same Times piece, including material Geller herself remarked upon in delineating the Times’ spin-by-omission:
Here is credentialed journalism: they say without explanation that I “posted doctored pictures of Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court justice, in a Nazi helmet .” They don’t bother to mention that the Kagan photoshop came after it was revealed that Kagan had cited in her thesis a German Marxist who became a Nazi when Hitler took power . They claim that I said that “a young Barack Obama slept with ‘a crack whore,'”  without mentioning that in that post  I was making a point about unfair journalists (like these Times writers), constructing a reductio ad absurdum about media bias.
This casual acquaintance with the truth became a hallmark of the attacks against Geller, which began coming virtually every day as her role solidified as the national leader of the movement against the Ground Zero mosque. Oft-repeated were wholly false claims that she supported white supremacists and neo-Nazis, which depended on willful misreadings of what she had actually written, along with previously constructed Leftist propaganda about various groups or individuals about which she had spoken favorably. Another staple of the attack plan was the charge that she had declared Barack Obama to be the illegitimate son of Malcolm X; never repeated was the two-year-old disclaimer on Geller’s Atlas Shrugs website, explaining that that claim was made as part of a larger presentation written by someone else, which Geller believed had merits aside from that claim, and moreover, wrote Geller, “I do not believe that Barack Obama is Malcolm X’s love child, and never did.”
The general haste to advance the false claim that Geller believed Malcolm X to be Obama’s father, and the utter indifference to her explanation to the contrary, recalled another Alinsky rule: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.” Hit pieces in The Guardian, Salon, The Atlantic, Talking Points Memo, and elsewhere among the Leftist mainstream media tried their best to portray Geller as ridiculous, even affecting a faux puritanical streak (“she filmed a video blog wearing a bikini!”) to try to make the characterization stick. Abetting this were Islamic supremacists such as Reza Aslan, a Board member of a group widely regarded as an apologetic organization for the bloody Islamic regime in Iran, the National Iranian American Council. Aslan, out of apparently deliberate malice, misrepresented Geller’s call for a boycott of Campbell’s Soup for working with the Hamas-linked Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) as a hysterical claim that halal soup meant the imminent imposition of Sharia in America.
But above all, the attempt to portray Geller as ridiculous, and to “freeze” and isolate her as a result, depended upon a refusal to engage her actual arguments. When Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic enlisted the help of his friend, Islamic scholar Reuel Gerecht, to attack Geller, Gerecht did so by setting up straw men and responding to them rather than dealing with what she actually said. For example, Gerecht and Goldberg took Geller’s quite reasonable observation that translations of the Qur’an into English often softened the book’s roughest edges as a claim that the Arabic Qur’an contained secret messages for Muslims calling on them to conquer the world – something she had not said or implied. When I refuted Gerecht’s substantive points about the Koran and Islam, Gerecht did not reply, and Goldberg resorted again to posting Internet half-truths, distortions, and outright lies about Geller – and again ignoring her explanations and refutations.
Eventually the relentless assault began to bear fruit. When Salon pointed out that Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell listed Geller among her endorsers, and in the process repeated many of the circulating lies about Geller’s statements and associations, O’Donnell unceremoniously and without explanation deleted Geller’s endorsement from her website. It was an unfortunate moment for those who had hoped for more integrity and resoluteness in the face of mainstream media dirty tricks from O’Donnell, but it was emblematic of the Right’s general response to the smear campaign against Geller.
While Leftists display a notable unity, and rarely betray or abandon one of their own, the nation’s conservative voices have generally stood by silently as the Leftist media has savaged Pamela Geller. This may stem from the Left’s collectivist bent as opposed to the value the Right places on individualism, but it raises larger issues as well, far beyond the particular case of Pamela Geller: if conservatives are not going to defend their own, and stick up for their own, then Alinskyites will pick us off one by one, and never themselves be exposed.
Leftists in the mainstream media and their Islamic supremacist allies are wholly intellectually bereft — and so they cannot engage their opponents on the level of ideas, but must instead bludgeon them into silence. The treatment of Pamela Geller is a case in point. It is imperative that conservatives stand up for her and for all voices of freedom; otherwise, she will by no means be the last victim of the vicious politics of personal destruction that the Left pursues so assiduously.