This is the second time in a week that I have answered, point-by-point, a lengthy exercise in character assassination against Pamela Geller and me written by Cathy Young, a contributing editor at Reason magazine and a longtime apologist for jihad terror. Young’s hit piece on us from last week appeared not in Reason but in the much larger Daily Beast, and as lengthy as it was, was clearly intended to be the go-to piece for Leftist journalists needing quick help to show their readers that despite being targeted for murder by Islamic jihadists for standing up for the freedom of speech, Pamela Geller and I were the real villains.
The only problem with Young’s bid to become the curator of the Hating Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer Museum and leader of the The Problem Is Geller and Spencer, Not the Jihadis brigade was that her Daily Beast piece was full of tendentious arguments, false claims, and outright lies, as Pamela Geller and I demonstrated here. And so now she has gone back to her home base at Reason to try to repair some of the damage in a new hit piece on us that is just as windy, just as dishonest, just as tendentious, and just as mendacious as her previous effort.
What is behind Cathy Young’s obsessive vendetta? Her first piece was 2,300 words; her new one is 2,800. That’s over 5,000 words that Cathy Young has produced defaming Pamela Geller and me since Ibrahim Simpson and Nadir Soofi tried to kill us in Garland, Texas. How many words has Cathy Young written about Ibrahim Simpson and Nadir Soofi and the phenomenon of jihad and violence Sharia enforcement in the U.S.? None. How many words has she devoted to a defense of the freedom of speech against those who would shut it down by violence? None, other than a bit of defensive lip service in the piece below, meant to deflect charges that she was effectively siding with the jihad force and our would-be killers. Simpson and Soofi wanted to kill us with AK-47s. Cathy Young wants to kill us figuratively with her torrent of words charging us with all manner of evils. The effect is the same: the Islamic jihadists and Young both want us silenced. They both want what they regard as our baneful influence ended. Young desperately wants to end the national discussion about the freedom of speech that began with the jihad attack on our event, while the jihadis want to shut down the freedom of speech and force the West at gunpoint to accept Sharia blasphemy restrictions.
What could be her motive? Is this woman really so hateful and authoritarian that the sight of two people standing for free speech and targeted for death for it arouses such bile in her that she drops everything to devote all her attention and energies to destroying us?
Either way, it’s not a pretty sight. Much more below.
“Pamela Geller is a Terrible Poster Child for Free Speech—and Against Islamist Extremism,” by Cathy Young, Reason, May 17, 2015:
Here’s what I think about activist Pamela Geller’s recent “Draw the Prophet” contest in Garland, Texas, where two wannabe jihadists were killed trying to carry out a terror attack: Geller had every right to organize that contest, and she should not be chided for supposedly abusing that right. When extremists use deadly violence against speech that offends them, tut-tutting “just because you can do it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea” is unseemly and misguided.
After writing that, Cathy Young probably realized that if her next word was “but,” the hollowness of her defense of the freedom of speech would be exposed, so instead she camouflaged it, but it’s effectively there nonetheless:
I also believe that, as I argued in The Daily Beast, Geller and her associate Robert Spencer are terrible poster children not only for free speech, but for combating Islamist extremism—because they routinely blur the lines not only between “anti-jihadism” and a war on Islam, but between criticism of Islam and Muslim-bashing. I don’t believe Mohammed cartoons are an attack on Muslims, and I actually thought the contest winner made an excellent point. However, as I documented, Geller and Spencer have spent years stoking anti-Muslim hysteria. I’m not fond of the term “Islamophobia,” which lumps together criticism of a religion and hatred toward its adherents; but “bigotry,” in this case, is not too strong a term.
What does it mean, exactly, that we are “terrible poster children not only for free speech”? Cathy Young follows this by making a lot of false claims about us. So evidently she is saying that we should not be seen as champions of free speech because our ideas are bad. Only those with ideas of which Cathy Young approves, apparently, are worthy of being “poster children for free speech.”
And that is why Cathy Young not only is not a poster child for free speech, but doesn’t even believe in free speech at all. She is saying that only people with worthy ideas should be heralded for defending free speech. Those with unworthy ideas, even if they get targeted for assassination by foes of free speech, are only to be shunned and vilified. This reveals the malevolent authoritarianism at the heart of Cathy Young’s thinking, and her implicit opposition to the concept of the freedom of speech altogether. If the freedom of speech doesn’t cover speech that some regard as offensive, such that even those with opinions people like Cathy Young consider offensive can champion it, then it doesn’t exist at all, and those in power can silence the powerless by claiming their speech is “offensive” and that they do not qualify as worthy “poster children for free speech.”
In their “rebuttal” on Breitbart.com, Geller and Spencer call my article “vicious and dishonest.” Without turning this into a point-by-point exchange, some of their charges must be addressed.
I have no interest in polemics over whether, as Geller and Spencer claim, reformation in Islam is a quixotic project ruled out by Islamic doctrine and scripture.
But then — you guessed it! — she engages in some anyway:
People who have deeply studied Islam and political Islamism, and can hardly be accused of naïveté—such as historian Bernard Lewis or Middle East analyst Reuel Marc Gerecht—disagree. Even as strong a critic of Islam as Ayaan Hirsi Ali has come to believe reform is possible. Geller and Spencer cite liberal Muslim Thomas Haidon, who back in 2005 agreed with Spencer that a reformist movement cannot succeed unless it offers “coherent and irrefutable evidence” that its version of Islam is “the ‘correct Islam.'” They do not mention that in the next sentence, Haidon lists several Islamic scholars who he believes have done just that. Nor do they acknowledge his warning against “destructive commentary” that undermine reform “by attacking Muslim reformers as ‘stupid,’ naïve and useless”—the kind of commentary that is their stock in trade.
Whenever Cathy Young provides a link, click on it, and you will invariably see that it doesn’t establish what she claims it does. In her earlier piece, she had claimed that Pamela Geller and I thinking that reform in Islam would be difficult was tantamount to hating Muslims. So we quoted Haidon, a Muslim, agreeing with me that Islamic reform would only succeed if it offered “coherent and irrefutable evidence that the version of Islam envisioned by reformists is the ‘correct Islam.'” Ah ha, says Young now, Geller and I “do not mention that in the next sentence, Haidon lists several Islamic scholars who he believes have done just that.” Young herself doesn’t mention, however, that after praising the reformers he respects, Haidon says, “However, these views are largely shunned by the Muslim majority.” Young then stoops even lower by representing Haidon’s words about “attacking Muslim reformers as ‘stupid,’ naïve and useless” as if he had been talking about me, when actually he is talking about anonymous commenters on blog posts.
That is just the beginning of her dishonesty in this piece.
That aside, the Geller/Spencer piece offers a striking example of why Spencer, the duo’s putative scholar, is simply not trustworthy as an expert.
Defending Spencer’s claim that the relative tolerance toward Jews in medieval Islam (compared to Christian Europe) is a politically correct myth, Geller and Spencer quote the 12th Century Jewish philosopher Maimonides—who “lived for a time in Muslim Spain and then fled that supposedly tolerant and pluralistic land”—on the mistreatment of Jews by “the nation of Ishmael.” The passage they cite, which refers to specific instances of persecution, is the subject of considerable debate among scholars as far as its context and interpretation. But what’s not in dispute is that when Maimonides left Spain after a fanatical Muslim sect came to power, he headed to other Muslim countries: Morocco, present-day Israel, and finally Egypt, where he eventually became the Sultan’s personal physician. His actual view of Christianity and Islam, and of the Jews’ relationship to both, was complex and on the whole probably more favorable to Islam. These are, to say the least, misleading omissions.
Notice here again — nary a quote from Maimonides to substantiate any of her claims. Geller and I included in our earlier rebuttal the quote from him that she dismisses here. Andrew Bostom has another here: “‘The nation of Ishmael…persecute us severely and devise ways to harm us and to debase us…None has matched it in debasing and humiliating us. None has been able to reduce us as they have. We have done as our sages of blessed memory instructed us, bearing the lies and absurdities of Ishmael. We listen, but remain silent…In spite of all this, we are not spared from the ferocity of their wickedness, and their outbursts at any time. On the contrary, the more we suffer and choose to conciliate them, the more they choose to act belligerently toward us.’ —Maimonides, Epistle to the Jews of Yemen (1172) [Stillman translation].” Bostom has much more in this vein here from Maimonides and his contemporaries. The fact that he went from Spain to Morocco, “present-day Israel” and finally Egypt establishes nothing without a close examination of his circumstances, the political situation of the time, the possibilities and risks of travel, etc. It certainly doesn’t establish what Young is trying to fool her readers into thinking it establishes — that Maimonides, despite his clear words, had as naive and roseate a view of Islam as Cathy Young has, and when he grieved over the persecution of the Jews by the “nation of Ishmael,” he really meant the nation of Ishmael except for its members in Morocco, “present-day Israel,” Egypt, etc.
Geller and Spencer accuse me of omissions of my own when it comes to Spencer’s sympathetic statements about moderate Muslims. Yes, in more than a decade of blogposts on Spencer’s site, JihadWatch, one can find such occasional lip service—nearly always in the context of stressing the isolation of moderate Muslims and the hopelessness of their cause. (For the record, the besieged “Moroccan cleric” Geller and Spencer credit Spencer for praising, Ahmed Assid, is actually a secularist intellectual and Berber nationalist.)
Step back for a moment and remember the context of all this: Young is castigating Pamela Geller and me for having a dim view of the prospects of Islamic reform. So here is someone, Ahmed Assid, actually calling for that reform, and he is targeted for death — and instead of conceding the point, Young retreats to quibbling about Assid’s CV. The fact that Assid is living under death threats illustrates the truth of precisely what Young is excoriating us for: “the isolation of moderate Muslims and the hopelessness of their cause.” (In reality, I’ve never said that their cause is hopeless, but it is extremely difficult.)
But did I misrepresent Geller and Spencer’s treatment of Muslim reformers, past and present? Two examples will suffice.
- I wrote that Spencer “ignores the work of such 20th Century thinkers as Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, who made the case for the abrogation of the Quran’s later, harsher texts by the earlier, more peaceful ones.” Spencer and Geller counter by citing a 2014 JihadWatch post in which Spencer notes that the Sudanese government executed Taha for heresy, and a 2006 guest post “on the death of Mohammed Taha.” I was prepared to concede error until I checked the links. Spencer’s post from last year is a long critique of a statement by Muslim scholars denouncing ISIS as un-Islamic; the reference to Taha is a throwaway line challenging one of their assertions (that Islam forbids declaring people non-Muslim unless they have declared disbelief). This has little bearing on my point: that Spencer’s claims about the lack of theological basis for Islamic reform ignore scholars who have formulated such a basis.As for the 2006 guest post, it’s about the wrong Taha: Mohammed Taha Mohammed Ahmed, a Sudanese journalist (and moderate Islamist) abducted and killed by terrorists. The sloppiness would be laughable if it weren’t for the tragic subject matter.
Once again, Young glides by the evidence we provided of her false claims about us, and hopes her readers won’t notice. Young claimed that I ignored Mahmoud Mohammed Taha; we showed that I had mentioned him in a 2014 blog post. That proved her claim to be false, so now she responds by claiming that I only mentioned Taha in a “throwaway line” (I also discuss Taha in my 2009 book The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran). In both of her pieces, meanwhile, Young completely ignores the main point: Taha was executed by the Sudanese government in 1985 for apostasy, for his reformist views of Islam. For Young to use him as evidence of the Islamic reform that we supposedly ignore is something worse than sloppiness; it is naked dishonesty, for Taha’s execution proves the point that Young is claiming makes us terrible people for saying — that genuine Islamic reform will be extremely difficult. As for the other link, yes, we were putting together our rebuttal in great haste, and I pulled an article about the wrong Mohammed Taha from Sudan. The “tragic subject matter” here, however, is Young’s putting forth a man who was murdered for trying to reform Islam as evidence of the wonderful prospects for Islamic reform. Young must know Taha was executed, as it was in our first piece; that she ignores it is evidence of how brazenly she is misleading her readers.
- Geller and Spencer dispute my assertion that they conducted a smear campaign against American Muslim reformer Zuhdi Jasser in 2011; they think it was a “spirited and substantive disagreement.” Well, Jasser thought it was a “vicious attack” and “libelous character assassination.” The Geller/Spencer piece also congratulates Spencer for defending Jasser against attacks by the Council on American-Islamic Relations last year. But that “defense” was mainly a broadside against CAIR and a rebuttal to its accusations against Spencer himself; Jasser got about 90 words in a 750-word piece.
Jasser’s hyperbole is just that: hyperbole. Nothing Pamela Geller or I wrote about him was false, as Geller demonstrated here. And as for her word-counting, now Young is just getting silly. How many words would be sufficient in her mind? She doesn’t mention (of course) that I praised Jasser as “a strong voice against Hamas-linked CAIR and other malignant Islamic supremacist forces.” That was in our first rebuttal, so Young must know it, but she doesn’t see fit to inform her readers of the fact, and instead scolds me for not using enough words to praise Jasser. I didn’t realize there was a minimum length requirement! Next time I will satisfy Young’s inner high-school English teacher and write that Jasser is “a very very very very very very strong voice against Hamas-linked CAIR and other malignant Islamic supremacist forces.”
Meanwhile, here’s what Spencer has said about moderate Muslims:
“I have maintained from the beginning of this site and before that that there is no reliable way to distinguish a ‘moderate’ Muslim who rejects the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism from a ‘radical’ Muslim who holds such ideas, even if he isn’t acting upon them at the moment.” (From a 2007 post on an Israeli Arab politician caught aiding Hezbollah; a correction notes that the culprit was a Christian, but Spencer clearly felt that his point still stood.)
One would think Cathy Young would be embarrassed to make this point after Ibrahim Simpson and Nadir Soofi took up an AK-47s and drove from Phoenix to Garland, Texas to commit mass murder at our free speech event. Usama Shami, the President of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, said that Simpson and Soofi were “two members that, they didn’t show any signs of radicalization or any signs of even thinking about those things in that manner. So when that happens it just shocks you. You know? How good did you know these people? that’s the question that people ask themselves.” Shami had no reliable way to distinguish a moderate Muslim who rejects the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism from a radical Muslim who holds such ideas, even if he isn’t acting upon them at the moment. Is he, too, a bigoted Islamophobe? My point in that statement is that Muslim leaders have not pronounced takfir upon, or excommunicated, those who hold jihadist ideas. They move in and among “moderate” Muslims.
Simpson and Soofi were by no means the first examples of this. The Tsarnaev brothers and other jihad terrorists were members of the Islamic Society of Boston. Not long after 9/11, none other than Anwar al-Awlaki was hailed in the New York Times as one of “a new generation of Muslim leader capable of merging East and West.” In 2002 he even led Muslim prayers on Capitol Hill, with those noted “civil rights activists,” Nihad Awad and Ibrahim Hooper of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations, in the crowd. Then there was Maher “Mike” Hawash of Portland, Oregon. A well-regarded Intel executive who made $360,000 a year began around the year 2000 to become more religious, growing his beard long, rejecting the nickname “Mike,” and attending the supremacist Islamic Center of Portland. Ultimately he served a seven-year prison term for conspiring to aid the Taliban. The most prominent example of this phenomenon in America is Abdurrahman Alamoudi of the American Muslim Council, who was the nation’s most prominent and influential Muslim (and a close friend of Grover Norquist) in the 1990s. Alamoudi, who met with Presidents Clinton and Bush, is now in prison for acting as a financial courier for al-Qaeda.
“The first thing we would have to do is…understand that really, anybody who professes the Islamic faith, if he delves into the teachings of his own religion, is somebody who could end up being very dangerous to us.” (From a 2010 debate at Thomas More College, where Spencer argued that “the only good Muslim is a bad Muslim”—one who doesn’t follow and probably doesn’t even know the tenets of his or her faith.)
Young presents this as self-evidently false, when in reality, the examples I adduced above (and there are many, many more) show that it is perfectly true. I said a devout Muslim could end up being dangerous, not that a devout Muslim necessarily would end up being dangerous. Look around the world and tell me that isn’t so.
And then there’s this advice from Spencer’s elusive ex-associate Hugh Fitzgerald:
“Understand how very useless is the concept of the ‘moderate’ Muslim—because it is impossible to know when someone’s ‘moderation’ is real or feigned. Experience shows that Muslim dissimulation—whether called taqiyya, kitman, or simply dissimulation—comes naturally. Also, by his mere presence a ‘moderate’ Muslim can swell the ranks, and hence the perceived power, of Muslims… And also because even the ‘moderate’ can be transformed, sometimes very quickly, into the ‘immoderate’ Muslim, or can have children who themselves will turn out, in a seeking-your-roots or disaffected-from-the-West attitude, to become ‘immoderate.'”
More guilt by association. I am not Hugh Fitzgerald and Young’s quoting of him, when I have written 14 books, hundreds of articles, and 40,000 blog posts, shows the weakness of her case against me — she has to go to other people to find mud to throw at Pamela Geller and me. That said, here again, the statement is not self-evidently false, and is substantiated by the examples above.
(So much for Geller and Spencer’s charge that I can’t “produce an actual damning quote” to support my claim that Fitzgerald—whom they describe as a “former writer” for JihadWatch, but who was vice president of its board of directors—describes even peaceful Muslims as a threat to the West.)
Fitzgerald is a former writer for Jihad Watch, and he is also former Vice President of the Board — the two are not mutually exclusive. In any case, Young here again misrepresents the point, no doubt willfully. Fitzgerald was not saying that there are no peaceful Muslims, but that there was no reliable way to tell peaceful Muslims who would always remain peaceful from those who, in the current parlance, would at some point become “radicalized.”
Geller and Spencer say that I wrongly accused them of opposing Muslims’ First Amendment freedom to worship; the article I cited, they claim, merely shows Geller backing legitimate zoning concerns about the building of a mosque. In other words, we are to believe that when Geller posts a screed titled “Mosqueing the Neighborhood,” she is concerned only about traffic congestion and noise, just as she would be if it were a megachurch. Unfortunately, there is ample evidence that the wave of opposition to mosques and Muslim centers following Geller’s campaign against the “Ground Zero mosque” was steeped in overt religious animus. And there is Spencer’s 2010 blogpost candidly stating that “it is entirely reasonable for free people to oppose the construction of new mosques in non-Muslim countries.”
Once again, click on the links, because Young almost always lies about them. The point regarding the New Jersey mosque was not that Geller’s only concern about mosques was about traffic congestion and noise. The point was that the Justice Department was persecuting the town for rejecting the mosque on legitimate zoning grounds. Geller’s concern, and mine, about mosques stems from the fact that four separate studies since 1999 all found that 80% of U.S. mosques were teaching jihad, Islamic supremacism, and hatred and contempt for Jews and Christians. There are no countervailing studies that challenge these results. In 1998, Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, a Sufi leader, visited 114 mosques in the United States. Then he gave testimony before a State Department Open Forum in January 1999, and asserted that 80% of American mosques taught the “extremist ideology.” Then there was the Center for Religious Freedom’s 2005 study, and the Mapping Sharia Project’s 2008 study. Each independently showed that upwards of 80% of mosques in America were preaching hatred of Jews and Christians and the necessity ultimately to impose Islamic rule.
In the summer of 2011 came another study showing that only 19% of mosques in U.S. don’t teach jihad violence and/or Islamic supremacism. Specifically: “A random survey of 100 representative mosques in the U.S. was conducted to measure the correlation between Sharia adherence and dogma calling for violence against non-believers. Of the 100 mosques surveyed, 51% had texts on site rated as severely advocating violence; 30% had texts rated as moderately advocating violence; and 19% had no violent texts at all. Mosques that presented as Sharia adherent were more likely to feature violence-positive texts on site than were their non-Sharia-adherent counterparts. In 84.5% of the mosques, the imam recommended studying violence-positive texts. The leadership at Sharia-adherent mosques was more likely to recommend that a worshiper study violence-positive texts than leadership at non-Sharia-adherent mosques. Fifty-eight percent of the mosques invited guest imams known to promote violent jihad. The leadership of mosques that featured violence-positive literature was more likely to invite guest imams who were known to promote violent jihad than was the leadership of mosques that did not feature violence-positive literature on mosque premises.” That means that around 1,700 mosques in the U.S. are preaching hatred of infidels and justifying violence against them.
Click on Young’s links. The post from which she draws my quote about mosques also contains this: “Recently we have seen mosques used to preach hatred; to spread exhortations to terrorist activity; to house a bomb factory; to store weapons; to disseminate messages from bin Laden; to demand (in the U.S.) that non-Muslims conform to Islamic dietary restrictions; to fire on American troops; to fire upon Indian troops; to train jihadists; and much more.” For Young, being concerned about mosques in light of all this is evidence that Pamela Geller and I oppose First Amendment rights for Muslims. In reality, we oppose sedition and jihad violence. We have no problem with mosques that teach against jihad violence, Islamic supremacism, Sharia misogyny, Islamic anti-semitism, etc. in an honest and transparent manner.
As it happens, the same blogpost offers additional evidence for another charge Geller and Spencer decry as unfair: that they routinely distort and mislead to whip up hysteria about “creeping sharia.” One of Spencer’s examples of the mosque menace is that here in the U.S., mosques have demanded that “non-Muslims conform to Islamic dietary restrictions.” The link leads to another JihadWatch post about “stealth jihad in Knoxville,” where a mosque was allegedly seeking to “impose Islamic restrictions on alcohol upon non-Muslims.”
The mosque, it turns out, was objecting to the planned opening of a restaurant with beer, music and dancing less than 200 feet away. But is there anything uniquely Islamic about such objections? Knoxville has a city ordinance that prohibits selling alcohol within 300 feet of a house of worship (with a loophole for establishments that have a state liquor license). In Texas, that notorious sharia stronghold, such a prohibition is mandated by state law; twenty-four other states and numerous municipalities restrict the sale of alcohol near places of worship. In 2011, a Baptist church in Queens, New York tried to block a beer and wine license for a hookah lounge next door, arguing that alcoholic beverages were unacceptable “in God’s sight.” Somehow, Geller missed this shocking religious tyranny right in her backyard. But she reported the Knoxville dispute under the not-at-all-hysterical tags “AMERABIA: LOSING AMERICA” and “CREEPING SHARIA: AMERICAN DHIMMITUDE.”
All this about laws prohibiting restaurants serving alcohol from being too near houses of worship is just a red herring: Young doesn’t mention (of course) that the owner of the Knoxville restaurant said this about the mosque’s complaints: “I am in compliance with the codes and laws of the state of Tennessee and Knox County so I don’t know what else to do.” The mosque, in other words, wasn’t trying to get existing laws enforced. They were trying to get an establishment that was complying with the law to bend to their will. Another red herring Young throws out here: neither Pamela Geller nor I have ever said that objections to establishments serving alcohol being near houses of worship are “uniquely Islamic.”
Geller and Spencer also devote much space to defending their debunked horror tales of jihad in our midst.
- They state that Sulejman Talovic, the Bosnian-born 18-year-old killed after a shooting spree at a Salt Lake City shopping mall in 2007, wore a necklace with a miniature Koran and “was described as a religious Muslim, attending mosque on Fridays and praying outside of mosque.” In fact, the 745-page FBI report on the shooting said that Talovic had stopped attending mosque once he started working in 2004 and that coworkers never saw him praying. It also concluded that he was not motivated by jihad. (Geller and Spencer clearly think the Koran necklace suggests otherwise; but, interestingly, such necklaces are apparently viewed as profane and even idolatrous by devout Muslims.)
Young represents our assertions about Talovic as if we made them up. She doesn’t mention (of course) that they came from that same FBI report. The fact that the FBI noted these and other points suggesting that Talovic was intending to wage jihad and then concluded that he wasn’t doesn’t prove as much as Young would want it to: the FBI is committed as a matter of policy to ignoring and downplaying the jihad threat, so they’re hardly an unimpeachable source. In any case, this evidence does exist, and so on its basis reasonable people can come to a conclusion different from that of the FBI without thereby becoming hateful bigots. As for the Qur’an necklace being idolatrous in the eyes of devout Muslims, Young should tell that to the prominent moderate Muslim Stephen Schwartz. He is quite antagonistic toward me now, but about ten years ago he and I had a very cordial dinner, during which he proudly showed me his…Qur’an necklace. (Schwartz, of course, is not and never will be a jihad terrorist; Talovic’s Qur’an necklace was just one piece in a large body of evidence.)
- They insist there was evidence of a jihadist connection in the October 2005 suicide-by-homemade bomb of University of Oklahoma engineering student Joel Hinrichs, citing reports (from WorldNetDaily) that “‘Islamic jihad’ material” was found in Hinrichs’s apartment and that he had belonged to a mosque previously attended by September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. But Geller and Spencer fail to mention that none of those rumors were substantiated. The FBI, after an exhaustive investigation, found no evidence that Hinrichs had extremist views or had planned to enter the stadium; the terse note he left on his computer indicated no motive beyond suicide.
Young doesn’t mention that this whole case was shrouded in secrecy. The indictment was sealed, and authorities were stonewalling. The FBI found that it was not terrorism? How compelling is that coming from an administration that insists that the Fort Hood jihad massacre — a man who had been in touch with Awlaki and spoken about jihad violence in a positive manner murdering 13 Americans while screaming “Allahu akbar” — was “workplace violence”? The Hinrichs case may not have been terrorism. But without any of the evidence available to the public, Cathy Young doesn’t have anything to go on to prove that it wasn’t other than that she hates Pamela Geller and me.
- They insist that we can’t be sure Virginia Tech shooter Seung Hui Cho wasn’t a jihadist Muslim, since the “Ismail Ax” inked on his arm remains unexplained. Never mind that the only religious references in the video rant Cho sent to the media were Christian: he compared his imminent death to that of Jesus and spoke of being “impaled upon a cross” by his perceived tormentors.
Here again, there simply isn’t enough available evidence. Cho’s video doesn’t contain everything he ever said in his life. But authorities have not been eager to lay it all out for public inspection.
- Bizarrely, they argue that Geller showed “commitment to accuracy” by deleting a post titled “Vehicular Jihad in Arizona”—based on a news report about a car crashing into a storefront and on the dead driver’s Muslim name—when it turned out the “jihadist” had suffered a heart attack while driving. Journalism 101: if you have published a false report, and a defamatory one at that, the decent thing is not to scrub it but to post a retraction and an apology.
“Journalism 101” is evidently not practiced by the New York Times or numerous other media outlets. On the Internet it is common practice to take stories down if they have been shown to be inaccurate, rather than keep false information floating around. Until Young starts going after the mainstream media for taking stories down, I will reiterate what we said in our first rebuttal: that making this point shows Young’s desperate determination to defame us in defiance of the facts
Geller and Spencer also try to rescue the “sharia judge” canard circulated in 2012 about Pennsylvania magistrate Mark Martin. As I wrote at the time, Martin had chided a complainant—atheist activist Ernest Perce, who was accusing a Muslim immigrant of harassment—for insulting Muslim sensibilities with a Halloween costume that lampooned Mohammed. For this, Judge Martin was rightly criticized. But the story also generated a firestorm based on reports that he told Perce, “I’m a Muslim, I find it offensive.” The judge was quickly confirmed to be Lutheran, and even National Review‘s Andrew McCarthy, who had initially promoted the story, agreed that his remark had been misheard in the audio of the court session. Geller continued to insist that Martin said he was a Muslim and probably was one; she and Spencer still do.
An out-and-out lie. I don’t think Martin is a Muslim and never did. I always thought that what he meant to say was, “If I were a Muslim, I would find that offensive.” Pamela Geller doesn’t think he is a Muslim either, as evidenced by something she wrote in 2012 that we quoted in our first rebuttal: “He now denies that he is a Muslim, but that’s what he said. Ultimately, it is irrelevant if the judge is or isn’t a Muslim. What is germane is his sharia ruling, which is worse if he’s not a Muslim.” That is not “continu[ing] to insist” that he is a Muslim; that is saying that he says he isn’t Muslim, that it doesn’t really matter whether he is or not, and that if he isn’t, what he did was even worse. Cathy Young’s link (always follow this serial liar’s links) doesn’t feature Pamela Geller insisting Martin is a Muslim, but Ernest Perce insisting he is a Muslim. But what cares Cathy Young for accuracy?
(In a hilariously karmic postscript, Geller’s Muslim-bashing atheist hero, Perce, is now a rabidly anti-Semitic preacher leading a fringe Christian ministry—just the kind of hero Geller deserves.)
How low will Cathy Young go? Pamela Geller is not Ernest Perce’s colleague, or coworker, or partner, or relative, or friend. She has had no contact with him since the Zombie Muhammad incident. Is she now responsible for everything he does for the rest of his life? It does make me wonder if Reason magazine has any journalistic standards at all, when they employ someone as unscrupulous and gleefully mendacious as Cathy Young.
Note also that Young is here doing to Perce what she does to Geller and me: for her, Perce is a bad person with bad views, and therefore it is wrong to defend him from an unjust judge — just as in her view, Geller and Spencer are bad people with bad ideas, and therefore it is wrong to stand with them against violent assaults on the freedom of speech.
On the subject of Geller’s tendency to excuse or deny Serb war crimes against Bosnian Muslims, Geller and Spencer respond to the charge of “genocide denial” by claiming that the Bosnian Muslim genocide is a subject of legitimate debate. As proof, they cite a 2005 Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal article which questions the “genocide” classification of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 7,000-8,000 Bosnian males. But the passage they quote clearly shows that the debate is on whether the massacre qualifies as genocide or the somewhat lesser offense of “crime against humanity”—not on whether it happened, or whether the perpetrators were criminals or anti-jihad resisters. “War crime denier” may sound better than “genocide denier,” but not by much.
The debate is indeed not about whether it happened. The debate is about whether it warrants the label of “genocide.” Is that the subject of legitimate debate? The Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal thinks so. Cathy Young says no. Pardon me, but I think I will go with Yale on this one, and I will sit back and wait for Cathy Young to start frenziedly denouncing Yale as a “genocide denier.”
Finally, Geller and Spencer defend a post by Spencer vilifying Kurdish fighter Arin Mirkan as a jihadist because she carried out a suicide bombing against ISIS troops in a besieged town. Their position seems to be that any suicide attack, even in combat, is morally unjustifiable. That’s debatable (there were kamikaze-like suicide missions by Allied pilots during World War II). But, morality aside, Spencer’s post was ludicrously ignorant: it labels Mirkan, a soldier in the military wing of the left-wing, secular Democratic Union Party, a “Kurdish Muslima.”
Any suicide attack, even in combat, is morally unjustifiable. Yes indeed. Follow Young’s link about Allied pilots on supposed suicide missions. None of them appear to be “missions” at all, but pilots facing superior numbers or superior planes ramming enemy planes rather than simply go down alone. Characteristically, Young misrepresents the data. In any case, even if the Allies had mounted suicide missions, this would not make it morally right to do so. As for Mirkan, Young here manifests the touching tendency of Western non-Muslim analysts to assume that secular groups and Muslim groups in Muslim countries are absolutely antagonistic to each other and mutually exclusive. That this is not always the case was recently illustrated by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the former general in Saddam’s secular army who died waging jihad for the Islamic State. Mirkan was a product of a culture in which many people believe that Paradise is guaranteed to those who “kill and are killed” for Allah (Qur’an 9:111). She was a member of a left-wing, secular party. Does that mean she was not a Muslim? Young thinks so, since she calls me “ignorant” for saying Mirkan was a “Muslima.” However, it is extremely unlikely, given Islam’s death penalty for apostasy and cultural ostracism of apostates, that Mirkan was anything but a Muslim, even if she was not devout or observant. Maybe her suicide bombing had nothing to do with Islam, but that point is, to put it mildly, unproven. An al-Arabiya report about her notes that her suicide attack was “a tactic usually used by extremist Islamist factions such as ISIS or Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra.”
Geller and Spencer end their screed with an absurd accusation: that I wrote my article because I see them, not Islamist terrorists, as the real enemy.
Until Cathy Young writes two elaborately detailed defenses of the freedom of speech or explorations of what is taught in mosques that could lead people like Ibrahim Simpson and Nadir Soofi to want to commit mass murder at a free speech event, I stand by that assessment.
Their social-media acolytes have suggested other motives: that I am afraid of Muslims and am trying to placate them, or that I am a “dhimmi” eager to please my Muslim overlords. (This uncannily echoes hostile responses to my critiques of gender-war feminism: I think false accusations are a bigger problem than rape; I’m trying to placate the patriarchy because I’m afraid of male violence; I’m a man-pleaser.)
In fact, I wrote my article mainly for two reasons:
- I believe radical Islamism in all its forms—the ISIS version or the official Saudi version—is the greatest challenge and danger of the twenty-first century, and the Geller/Spencer way of dealing with it is highly counterproductive. Incidentally, I agree that many critics of “Islamophobia” tend to downplay the very real problems of jihadist terror, of the entrenched power of oppressive, fanatical Islamist ideology in much of the Muslim world, and of radicalization in Muslim communities. But panic-mongering “anti-jihadists” give those critics ample ammunition—for instance, by jumping on fake news stories of sharia on the march.
Speaking of fake news stories, Young’s link on that goes to a story trumped up by her fellow smear merchant, the gutter thug Nathan Lean, who has repeatedly endangered the lives of innocent people by publishing information about what he thinks are places I frequent (he’s wrong, but in doing this he could still get people killed). The truth about it is here. I had taken down a story that I discovered to be false, but Lean, who apparently is too moronic to clear his cache, insisted it was still up many days after I had taken it down, and claimed that I was purposefully purveying false information. People like Young and Lean have a clear mania to defame, a desperation to demean, and a cynical disregard for the facts as they do so.
2. I abhor the demonization of any group, especially in the name of a goal I support—be it men demonized under the guise of feminism, or Muslims of anti-Islamism.
It’s a common claim that Geller and I “demonize” all Muslims. It has no basis and is never accompanied by supporting evidence. The only one doing any demonizing here is Cathy Young.
Along with missives from Geller/Spencer fans urging me to buy a Muslim prayer rug or predicting my sexual enslavement by ISIS, two emails thanking me for the article are particularly relevant. One was from a man who asked not to use his name, a self-described secular Jew who said that he was a fan of Geller’s until he started to find her behavior “very troubling”—though he still credits her for raising his awareness of radical Islam. In his view, “she will have ended up giving the ‘counter-jihad’ a very bad name, because she’s given the institutional left, as Andrew Breitbart called it, a whole bunch of ammo with which to smear the entire ‘movement.'”
Fact is, the institutional Left is going to smear the entire counter-jihad no matter how much Young’s correspondent bows and scrapes before them. Might as well stand for the truth instead, as does Pamela Geller, no matter how unwelcome that may be, and how much frenzy it arises in the enemies of freedom.
The other was from Mohammed Al-Darsani, a Muslim U.S. army officer and veteran whom I first met several years ago while speaking at the law school where he was a student. Al-Darsani unequivocally condemned the attack on the Texas event and stressed that the rights of Geller and Spencer (and their supporters) “should be steadfastly protected.” But he also added, “It would be nice to see them use their fifteen minutes of fame to issue a statement of unequivocal support for honest, hard-working Americans who happen to be Muslim [and] to thank Muslim United States Military Servicemembers for their service and sacrifices.” Al-Darsani readily acknowledges that “there are significant problems concerning hatred and violence in many predominately Muslim communities and sects”; but he wishes Geller and Spencer would acknowledge that “that is not the whole story.”
The problems with this are many. As for Muslim service members, the existence of loyal Americans among them doesn’t negate the existence of people like former Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood jihad murderer. Nor does it delegitimize calls for an honest exploration of how future Major Hasans can be avoided. Likewise the fact that there are peaceful Muslims, which neither Geller nor I have ever denied, does not delegitimize concern about jihad terror. Those who insist that we have to discuss Muslims doing good things so as to have permission to discuss jihad violence have, to say the least, a peculiar set of priorities.
These messages go to the heart of why I wrote my article. I stand by every word.
Every lie, every smear, every innuendo, every distortion, every half-truth, every tendentious accusation. In a sane world, Cathy Young’s two smear screeds aimed at Pamela Geller and I would disqualify her from ever being regarded as a serious or fair journalist. But I know this ain’t a sane world.