Here is a useful summary piece on the hypocrisy of the mainstream media in blaming Pamela Geller for the jihad attack on our Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest. “Why Won’t Pamela Geller Shut Up?,” by Rich Lowry, Politico, May 6, 2015:
How dare Pamela Geller get targeted by terrorists bent on committing mass murder.
That’s been the reaction of a portion of the opinion elite to news that Geller’s “draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas, was (unsuccessfully) assaulted by two heavily armed Muslim men in an attack the Islamic State took responsibility for.
The Washington Post ran an article on Geller headlined, “Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas.”
News that the Post has yet to break about other terrorist targets: “Malala Yousafzai refuses to admit fault for seeking an education”; “Coptic Christians won’t concede error for worshiping wrong God”; “Unrepentant Shiites continue to disagree with Sunnis.”
Yes, these are more sympathetic cases, but it is no more legitimate to shoot someone for drawing Muhammad, than it is to shoot a girl for going to school, or a Copt or a Shia for his or her faith. Expecting apologies from these victims would be almost as perverse as expecting one from Pamela Geller.
Respectable opinion can’t bear the idea that she has become a symbol of free speech, which once upon a time was — and still is, when convenient — one of the highest values of the media and the left.
If Geller were a groundbreaking pornographer like the loathsome Larry Flynt, someone would already be planning a celebratory biopic of her life. If she were a gadfly sticking it to a major Western religion rather than to Islam, she might be considered more socially acceptable.
Instead, her provocations are deemed almost as shameful as the intentions of the men who wanted to kill her and her cohorts.
To say the reaction to Garland has been confused is charitable. On “Hardball,” NBC terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann descended into a morass of contradictory clichés when discussing Garland. He said Geller and her ilk are “trying to provoke a response from the Muslim community, and unfortunately, this was predictable.”
Then he maintained that the ensuing inevitable attack from the sorely provoked Muslim community had “nothing to do with Islam.” The perpetrators and supporters of the attack would beg to differ, but what do they know? They aren’t terrorism analysts on a broadcast TV network.
Linda Stasi wrote a column for the New York Daily News titled, “With Pamela Geller’s Prophet Muhammad cartoon stunt in Texas, hate rears its ugly face again.” The hatred referred to wasn’t that of the attackers who wanted to murder people for attending an uncongenial art contest but of Geller.
In perhaps the most obtuse and least grammatical sentiment committed to print in the aftermath of Garland, Stasi argued that “Geller, like ISIS and al Qaeda, revel [sic] in hate…”
This is a little like saying that the Finns and the Red Army both reveled in shooting guns during the Winter War, without taking account of who invaded and occupied whom. Geller holds events and writes blog posts deemed offensive by many, all of which are fully protected by our laws. ISIL beheads people and blows them up, all of which is criminal by any civilized standard.
“While we have freedom of speech,” Stasi continued, “we also have freedom of religion, which shouldn’t be impinged upon.” This is both a truism and a non sequitur: Tasteless speech doesn’t impinge upon anyone’s freedom of conscience or religion. The glory of the First Amendment is that it guarantees freedom of both speech and worship.
Taking a similar tack in a piece on CNN’s website, Haroon Moghul said Geller is “using one democratic value to subvert other democratic values,” namely by polarizing America and alienating Muslims.
Yet scurrilous, scatological and, yes, hateful speech and cartoons — many of them involving religion — have featured in Anglo-American history going back centuries. They are part of the warp and woof of a free society. In this context, a drawing of Muhammad is mild.
The only reason it seems different is that there is a small class of Muslim radicals willing to kill over it. Which is exactly why Pamela Geller’s event wasn’t purposeless.
The event was placing a stake in contested ground, in a way it wouldn’t have if it had offended Quakers or Roman Catholics, who don’t massacre people who insult them. It was a statement of defiance, of an unwillingness to abide by the rules of fanatics.
“I feel that sometimes Muslims in America have become the last group in which public officials, organizations and others are allowed to publicly demean, ridicule this group, in ways we don’t do it with other groups per se,” NBC reporter Ayman Mohyeldin opined the other day.
What country does he live in? The new atheists merrily deride Christianity with no worries for their health or safety. Meanwhile, cartoonists who draw Muhammad have to go into hiding. Even the otherwise fearless “South Park” has had to back off, because no one wants to get threatened or killed.
For better or worse, we live in a society in which nothing is sacred. If we are to accept the assassin’s veto, the only exception (for now) will be depictions of Muhammad, which would be perverse. A free society can’t let the parameters of its speech be set by murderous extremists.
Give her this: Pamela Geller understands that, whereas her scolds don’t. Some of them can’t even tell the difference between her and her would-be killers.