Haroon Moghul, fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, Fellow at the New America Foundation, perennial Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, energetic purveyor of the propaganda fiction “Islamophobia,” and defamation peddler, attended Pamela Geller’s recent talk at Brooklyn College, where she was set upon by Islamic supremacist thugs who demonstrated their contempt for free and open discourse by shouting her down, ridiculing her, taunting her, and praising the Islamic State, instead of engaging her on substance.
Instead of being embarrassed by this, as he should have been, and writing a defense of the freedom of speech and Pamela Geller’s right to exercise it, and the importance of rational discussion and debate, Moghul then wrote this vicious, narcissistic and self-pitying screed before the jihad terror attack against our AFDI/Jihad Watch free speech event in Garland, Texas. He published it, however, after that attack, and after the Islamic State vowed to murder Pamela Geller — making it clear incitement to violence.
Moghul’s piece is extremely odd for one primary reason: he writes a lengthy, rambling article about going to a Pamela Geller talk, and the one thing missing from it is…Geller’s talk. He doesn’t include a single quote from Geller, even to illustrate all the claims he makes about how offensive and bigoted she is. This is a very strange and telling omission, revealing that what Moghul is about is not dealing rationally with what Pamela Geller says, and refuting it on substance, but simply defaming her to the point where no one will take her seriously. It’s a common Alinskyite tactic, and reveals (as if there weren’t enough evidence already) that Moghul is not an intellectual, not a thinker, but a hate propagandist on the order of Julius Streicher: he writes in order to get people to hate Pamela Geller, not to engage what she says and have a genuine debate or discussion.
The charge that Pamela Geller and I are “the Anwar al-Awlakis of anti-Muslim terrorism” is breathtaking smear even in a week crowded with them. Let’s examine it up close. Awlaki was actively involved in planning jihad terror attacks. How many “anti-Muslim” terror attacks have Geller and I been involved in planning? None. Awlaki was in contact with the Fort Hood jihad murderer, the Detroit underwear jihadist, and several 9/11 jihadis. How many “anti-Muslim” terrorists have Geller and I been in contact with? None.
Awlaki praised the Fort Hood jihad murderer: “Nidal Hasan is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people. My support to the operation was because the operation brother Nidal carried out was a courageous one.” How many “anti-Muslim” terror operations have Pamela Geller and I praised? None. Awlaki said: “I pray that Allah destroys America.” How many Muslim countries have Geller and I prayed would be destroyed? None.
Awlaki called for jihad terror in America: “To the Muslims in America, I have this to say: How can your conscience allow you to live in peaceful coexistence with a nation that is responsible for the tyranny and crimes committed against your own brothers and sisters? I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad (holy struggle) against America is binding upon myself just as it is binding upon every other able Muslim.” Have Pamela Geller and I ever called for any violence anywhere? No.
Moghul bases his libel on — you guessed it — Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, because he cited our work. He doesn’t tell his Religion Dispatches readers that Breivik wrote about me and others: “If these authors are to [sic] scared to propagate a conservative revolution and armed resistance then other authors will have to.” (Breivik, 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, p. 743) In other words, the very thing Moghul is accusing Geller and me of doing — inciting Breivik to violence — is ruled out by the killer himself, who explained that it was actually Moghul’s co-religionists of al-Qaeda who incited him to kill. Also, Breivik’s massacre is a curious example of “anti-Muslim terrorism,” since no Muslims were killed. But Moghul has abundantly demonstrated in the past that he is a tendentious propagandist, not an honest reporter of facts, and so again here. He apparently wants to demonize Pamela Geller and me, and to open us to more abuse and violent threats. If the facts don’t fit his case, he will trim and misrepresent them until they do.
After two of his fellow Muslims tried to commit mass murder at our event, and then specifically said they were trying to kill Geller, you’d think that Haroon Moghul would be ashamed to liken us to a mastermind and planner of mass murder, and would instead write about the need for mosques in the U.S. to confront the jihad ideology. You’d think wrong.
“Pamela Geller in Brooklyn: Free Speech, Hate Speech, and the Futility of Arguing with a Bigot,” by Haroon Moghul, Religion Dispatches, May 4, 2015:
Author’s Note: I wrote this article before the tragic and unacceptable attack in Garland, Texas, last night, at an event associated with Pamela Geller. Given what happened, and the conversation around Islam and free speech, I asked the editors to go ahead and publish my original article—because it shows that I, a Muslim, went to her event, heard her out, and then came home.
What does he want, a medal? As you can see from the video, most everyone who went to the event had no intention of hearing her out. Moghul made no attempt to remonstrate with them or exhort them to respect the points of view even of those they hated.
It should be noted that this was the exact approach taken by every mosque in the Garland, Texas, area: To not only respect Geller’s right to free speech, but to decline their own right to peacefully protest.
It should also be noted that two Muslims from Phoenix opted for a somewhat different approach.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
They’ve already started lining up, braving the rain. I take a good long look at the lot of them, drenched but energized, and know I can’t. I don’t even have an umbrella. I do however have an RSVP. I’ll wait it out at the closest Starbucks.
My Starbucks name is Dwayne.
Poor victim! Moghul, a determined “Islamophobia”-monger, apparently wants us to believe that Muslims in the United States are so severely threatened that he can’t even order at Starbucks using his real name, for fear of an “Islamophobic” backlash. Or does he think that the redneck, racist yahoo behind the Brooklyn Starbucks counter will be unable to pronounce the difficult foreign name “Haroon”? Not to worry, “Dwayne” — you can just tell him or her that it rhymes with “maroon,” which is what Bugs Bunny would call you.
There’s a long line here too, full of bored coeds fiddling with their phones. I debate ordering a classic coffee cake, still one week away from discovering that ‘coffee cake’ isn’t a kind of cake made with coffee, just cake you eat with coffee.
It doesn’t seem like anyone here (most of whom are Brooklyn College students) has any idea she’s speaking, or even I’d guess who she even is. Not to mention that the title of her event, ‘The First Amendment and Social Criticism,’ sounds like a snoozefest.
Dwayne orders a Grande English Breakfast. Sans cake.
I suppose Haroon/Dwayne finds this narcissistic noodling cute. But talk about “snoozefests.” Skipping ahead to when he actually gets to something on point:
…6:42Back outside the student center, there’s a crowd of doused and disappointed undergraduates, largely Arab, Muslim or sympathetic, who’ve been refused entrance by security. Many, but not all of them, are with Students for Justice in Palestine.
Moghul would have us believe that those who hated Geller were refused entry. Watch the video and see how true that is.
I, however, point to my name on a soaked printout, and am quickly let through. After a cursory check of my bag—I’m reading Åsne Seierstad’s brilliant One of Us: Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway—I’m on my way to the elevator.
There’s an older couple already inside. They’re white, and know I’m not, and look as if they haven’t had a bowel movement in several days.
Note the charm with which Haroon Moghul describes those whom he hates and despises.
The gentleman asks if I’m a professor, inelegantly attempting to ascertain whose side I’m on. Neither, it’ll turn out.
Released to coincide with his attack, Anders Breivik’s manifesto, 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, frequently cites Geller; her buddy, Robert Spencer, gets in dozens of mentions. They’re the Anwar al-Awlakis of anti-Muslim terrorism.
See above on this libel.
Brooklyn College needed a new student center twenty-five years ago. Thank God they’re not wasting public funds on this.
The front few rows have been occupied by a largely greying audience, and will spend much of the event looking like jilted retirees. The rest of the room seethes with oppositional energy, buzzing, unable to stand let alone sit still. I get it, because fifteen years back, I was them. Which means I know how this’ll turn out. Badly.
On Tuesday, a judge sided with Geller against the MTA. Her latest ‘advertisements’, which declare not only that Muslims want to kill Jews, but that our religion instructs us to, are not incitement to violence. Or material support for terrorism. (Imagine if I said that—think I’d be treated the same?)
I can imagine all kinds of unsavory characters would be jubilant that messages encouraging the indiscriminate murder of Jews will be posted in the world’s biggest Jewish city. I’d imagine this would make Jewish New Yorkers, never mind Muslim New Yorkers, deeply unwelcome in their own city. Is that her purpose? Or Dr. Seidemann’s?
Moghul implies that Geller made up the claim, as he puts it, “not only that Muslims want to kill Jews, but that our religion instructs us to.” He doesn’t bother to mention that our ad actually comes from a Hamas video that ran on its official TV station, containing the words, “Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah” — which is what our ad said. But for Haroon Moghul, Geller is evil for calling attention to it.
Dr. Seidemann, Deputy Chair of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has invited Pamela Geller—not, as he was careful to note in an email exchange with me, his department, or anyone else at Brooklyn College. In fact no student organization wanted anything to do with her either.
So why did Dr. Seidemann? He’s not an expert on the topic she’s not an expert on, so maybe the well-educated man isn’t that well-educated. Though I find that terrifically hard to swallow. The unhappier answer is that he thinks she has something worth saying, which means he’s sympathetic to bigotry.
But he has the right to encourage hate speech.
Moghul here displays the attitude that Leftists and Islamic supremacists always display: that their point of view is axiomatically true, and anyone who deviates from it is either stupid or evil, or both. Not that Moghul would ever dare debate Pamela Geller or me or anyone else whom he smears as “Islamophobic” — he knows that if he did, he would lose, and be exposed. So he acts as if it is a matter to be taken for granted that he is correct, knowledgeable and righteous and we are wrong, stupid, and evil, and hopes that no one will call him on his Emperor’s-New-Clothes act. And in academia and the mainstream media today, no one will.
Anyway, more narcissistic blather, and then more of what he thinks establishes the stupidity of Geller’s supporters:
…He’s a nice fellow, though he believes Palestinians would have a different view of Israel if only they ‘visited’ (not seeming to understand that they cannot, and many would not be visiting so much as returning to places they were expelled from).
They could come, he volunteers, and ‘wear a bikini, or go to the beach’—a position firstly ironic, since his family owns a kosher coffee shop in a conservative Jewish neighborhood, and secondly, well, seriously bro? That’s what you think this is all about?
Well, bro, there is an aspect to this struggle (or “jihad,” if you prefer, “Dwayne,”) that involves the freedom vs. the subjugation of women, so, yeah, there’s that. And also, “Dwayne,” there are all those Israeli Arabs in Israel, even in the Knesset, etc. Where are the Jews in government in Muslim countries? Oh yeah, never mind, “Dwayne,” they were all massacred or exiled.
We are treated to a long, condescending introduction to free speech as an American value. During which the moderator pronounces ‘academia’ as if it rhymes with ‘macadamia.’ (Hey, it’s a free country.) The patriotic force of the moment dissipates with a reminder of the dire penalties awaiting those who disobey school and state law.
Dwayne has finished his Starbucks beverage. Fortunately his name is Dwayne and not Muhammad or Haroon, so when he steps out to use the bathroom, it’ll just be because he had to go, not because he hates his/your/our freedom.
Poor victim! In reality, the thuggish Muslim students who attended the talk constantly disrupted it by getting up, walking toward the stage, and leaving the room, only to return moments later, in manifestations of their contempt and hatred for Pamela Geller — because they do, demonstrably, hate our freedom.
Seeing Pamela Geller after so many years is weirdly heartwarming. It’s like I’ve come across an old friend, one who once made my life difficult and still does, though I’m rather less frustrated by her now. Because she’s exactly the same—and I’m not.
Poor victim? How did Pamela Geller ever conceivably make his life difficult? Was she once a Starbucks barista who refused to serve “Haroon” and insisted on calling him “Dwayne”?
I should ask Dr. Seidemann if she can be immune to change, immune to evolution or even erosion, or better yet, make up a theory myself, and demand we sacrifice our nation’s resources based upon it.
Asking a question might have been a good idea, but note that Moghul only thinks about doing so. He repeatedly shows that actually debating those who he hates and fears is beyond his capabilities and outside of his interests.
I’ll call it “The Process of Erosion and the Defense of Our Freedoms.” (‘I’m not a scientist, but some of my best friends are canyons.’) You’ll have to RSVP. Stupid’s the coffee, and First Amendment’s the cake.
Geller can’t get in more than a sentence or two before the students applaud her with deafening conviction. They’ve decided to mock her with faux enthusiasm. At least, it’ll start so. It’ll end just as I predict it will: With Geller running away.
15 years ago, that’s what I’d have done to Geller, too. Stooped to her level. (Stupid.) I’d feel very good about releasing all my anger with her at her, absent any concern for how this might make me (or more importantly my cause) look to those on the sidelines.
Even as he expresses mild disapproval of the thugs’ behavior at the talk, Moghul stoops to their level, calling Geller names while not bothering to include a single example of something she says that is so wrong and egregious that it would justify his, and their, hatred for her.
I had no larger vision, no strategy, no game plan. Just go jeer and holler. Shout her down. Game over. The better way is to respond unexpectedly, breaking the alliances upon which one’s adversary depends. Do not unite others in opposition to you.
Rather, break apart what support they have left. I wonder if the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences would be okay with one of their own inviting a speaker who claimed Baltimore and Ferguson reveal who all black people really are.
Or, indeed, who (all) white people really are.
White people, black people — Moghul, as evidenced by his “Dwayne” charade, wants us to think this is all about race, as if the jihad terror of Adam Gadahn was just fine because he was a white ex-Jewish kid from California. And he is suggesting that Geller says that jihad terror attacks reveal who all Muslims really are — but he doesn’t quote her, because she has never said such a thing, as the desperately dishonest “Dwayne” probably knows.
She’s whining that students don’t invite her to speak anymore. There’s an entire conspiracy at work, she assures us, an alliance between incendiary Islamists and leftie-liberals, to shut down free speech in America. Which explains why the last to invite her, Temple University, did so years ago.
Of course, there is a far simpler explanation. The reason Pamela’s not invited to speak on campuses is because people find her offensive or uninteresting. We may not trust peer review, but we can trust the market. Hence stunts like bus ‘advertisements’.
This is ironic, since Moghul found her interesting enough to write this windy smear piece. But again, apart from mischaracterizing her ad featuring the Hamas quote, he has produced nothing whatsoever to show why Pamela Geller is so offensive.
Geller says, ‘I was a freedom lover.’ So am I. As a freedom lover, I’m clutching an empty coffee cup that had had tea in it with one hand, and scribbling with the other. I’m mostly looking down, because I’m worried. Sporadic waves of applause have degenerated into a rawer and unrestrained anger.
People are jeering, mocking, chuckling, hooting. Did they really think they’d hold it together? To bring several dozen young students, champing at the bit, to hear a woman who is most notable, if at all notable, for her ability to aggravate and incite, is a bad idea. It’s a dangerous idea. It’s only unlikely to gain you anything—can’t we be a little more creative?— it can very easily become self-defeating.
Who brought them. No one. They went because they wanted to. They got there early to make sure they would get most of the seats. They went because they wanted to jeer at her and mock her, because for years people like Haroon Moghul have been telling them that she is a terrible person who wants to hurt them. Moghul was present to see what his incitement and hate speech produced, but he never broke character; he continued to insist that the embattled speaker was the hateful one, hoping no one would notice that for all this scribbling he didn’t manage to get on paper any of her hateful and offensive statements.
The students want to rebut everything she says. They don’t even care what she says, except that they challenge it. This is why, when Geller says ‘ISIS is spreading,’ a young woman blurts out, ‘alhamdulillah.’ Arabic for ‘praise God.’ I turned to see who, but couldn’t twist in time.That’s what happens when you argue with a bigot. You end up looking and sounding awfully like a bigot,
But you can be sure Geller heard it, and she was alarmed. I was, too. My own thinking is that this young woman, wanting so very badly to shut Geller up—and not understanding that Geller wants the negativity—simply fired back the opposite. ‘Whatever you say, I’m going to loudly disagree with.’ That’s the likelier explanation.
The unlikelier? She actually thinks this ISIS is a good thing, in which case she is foolish, naïve, or vile. (I heard, from students—without confirmation—that the FBI paid campus a visit thereafter.) Even if she was acting out of emotion, utterly unacceptable. That’s what happens when you argue with a bigot. You end up looking and sounding awfully like a bigot, and benefiting your opponent.
Why is it unlikely that she really supports the Islamic State? Well over 100 Muslims from the U.S. have gone to join it, and more have tried. What is Moghul doing to stop them? Demonizing Pamela Geller:
Can’t we be better than her? (It’s not that high a standard to rise to.)
The event has descended into farce. Or tragedy. When Geller tries to speak, she’s booed. During question and answer, students and supporters are practically yelling at each other, and at a few points, her supporters threaten her opponents. It’s impossible to get a real question in, not that I care to try in this environment.
This is not how we should respond to her. The best response I’ve yet seen is Dean Obeidallah and Negin Farsad’s humorous counter-advertisements (see them all here); more provocatively, you could do what Mona Eltahawy did: deface what is on any measure hate speech. Isn’t that free speech, too? Isn’t that what this is all about? And can we not elevate the conversation?
Vandalism is actually not free speech, but the forcible suppression of it. That Moghul would applaud it indicates that he has no idea what the concept of the freedom of speech is really all about.
Geller compares the room, which has something of a free-for-all quality, to a Nazi rally. Really.
Really. National Socialist Brownshirts used to attend anti-Nazi lectures, precisely so as to jeer at, mock, and physically menace the speaker. How was this different?
Security is confused, because while the event has ceased to be the lecture it never got a chance to be, no clear red lines have been crossed. Or the College just doesn’t like Geller enough to intervene.
Probably so. They would have intervened had she been a speaker with the accepted Leftist positions.
Moghul likens the behavior of these new Brownshirts to Geller’s own, again without explaining when and how she has ever actually done what he says she has done: treat Muslims offensively and derisively. At the cartoon contest, you say? One would think that a solid “moderate” like “Dwayne” Moghul would have been happy to appear at such an event, so as to show that he valued free speech and rejected the idea of killing cartoonists for violating the blasphemy laws of a religion they didn’t believe in. But no. Instead, he excuses the thugs’ behavior:
Geller retreats to a soundtrack of chanting students: ‘Don’t come back! Don’t come back!’ They’re beaming, exultant in their accomplishment, slapping each other’s backs, laughing and cheering. It appears the College let her get walked all over. Wednesday night, then, the bully got bullied.
If it’s not obvious, I don’t like Geller, and note the irony of her being treated in the way she treats Muslims—offensively and derisively. She wants to protect the right to offend: She can’t protest being offended. But she doesn’t appreciate her own medicine. She’s not us, and we’re not her.
The way many students responded was irresponsible, especially considering the consequences. But I don’t blame them: They’re still young, and wet behind the ears. I do blame Pamela Geller, and Professor Seidemann, the ostensible adults in the room, who think that picking on a vulnerable minority constitutes a brave stand for freedom.
Because it’s not like it’ll end here. For those kids still live here. They’ll get on buses and trains, and see ads accusing them of being vicious, murderous anti-Semites.
The ad actually quotes Hamas saying that “Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah.” They really said that. Then it says, “That’s his jihad. What’s yours?” That’s it. Where does that ad accuse all Muslims of thinking the same way? A perfectly reasonable response would be for Muslims who don’t believe this to take action against Islamic antisemitism, which is rising worldwide. But Haroon Moghul cares only about defaming Pamela Geller, not tackling that.
Her intention in doing so is not to draw awareness to radical Islam—it’s to increase tension, distrust, and open up a space where people like her, who otherwise have nothing to offer, will be valued—and further increase tensions.
How does he know her intention? He doesn’t, of course.
Hate is the only thing that earns her money. Because it’s the only talent she has. This isn’t free speech, it’s free-market. And to what end? If you link anti-Semitism to Islamophobia, or vice versa, you make it more likely each community will deny the other’s pain. Young Muslims who are expected to accept that anti-Semitism is real, at the cost of denying discrimination against them, are unlikely to.
This is not only the biggest Jewish city in the world, but the biggest Muslim city in the Western hemisphere, too. If her purpose was to increase anti-Muslim sentiment, she may succeed. But if her purpose was to increase anti-Semitism, then she may also succeed. Which is why I’m unsurprised the city stepped in, and banned political speech altogether. Just because you can say something, does it mean you should?
And if you don’t like it, why bother paying any attention to it?
Then you should have stayed home, “Dwayne.” But the chance to pen another libelous hit piece was irresistible, eh?