Why Pamela Geller is Wrong

Published: June 5, 2015

By Jim Lichtman
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Religion is always a touchy subject. So is politics, but that hasn’t stopped Pamela Geller, who specializes in provoking religious groups, to continue to inflame under the guise of free speech.

Political Activist Pamela Geller

Welcome to the new American zeitgeist where the Second Amendment is now used as an umbrella ideology to justify all manner of rationalizations.

Geller has been waging a one-woman jihad against what she refers to as, the Islamization of America. In fact, her 2011 book, Stop the Islamization of America, rails against, “…the creeping encroachment to introduce Islamic law into this country, step-by-step and bit-by-bit, until finally America wakes up to a country transformed into an Islamic state.”

Geller’s anti-Islamic sentiments go back to post-911 when she stridently opposed the construction of a planned 13-story Islamic Community Center located two blocks from the World Trade Center site. (The owner has since proposed a museum for the site.)

Earlier this year, Geller stepped into the fray again after attacks on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Several editors were murdered by terrorists as payback against the magazine for repeatedly running political cartoons picturing the prophet Mohammed. While the world community rallied around banners proclaiming Je suis Charlie (“I am Charlie), in support of freedom of speech and press, Geller chose to take the protest to the next hateful level by promoting a “Draw the Prophet” cartoon contest. Held in Garland, Texas, the event ended in gunfire. (Gee, I wonder why.)

Geller made the news recently after Boston police shot and killed a terror suspect brandishing a military-style knife and threatening police. An investigation uncovered that Geller was the intended target of his attack.

On Wednesday (June 4), CNN Journalist Chris Cuomo hosted her on his morning show to discuss her reasoning.

CUOMO: “Have you thought that, ooh, maybe I went too far? This wasn’t worth it. I’m going to change how I do what I do now?”

GELLER: “Drawing a cartoon, an innocuous cartoon warrants chopping my head off? That’s too far? I just don’t understand this. They’re going to come for you, too, Chris. They’re coming for everybody. And the media should be standing with me… [they] should have understood that by kowtowing and submitting to Islamic law that is what you are doing.”

CUOMO: “How?”

GELLER: “By not running the cartoon, by saying that Pamela Geller goes too far in running a cartoon. It’s the First Amendment. What happened to ‘Give me liberty or give me death?’ And we see the…”

CUOMO: “The question that I think your behavior raises is why so slight for slight with the Muslims? Why not do what we often teach as a function of virtue when we’re dealing with savagery, which is show that we are better than this? Not show that we can poke them in the eye in a way they don’t like it?”

GELLER: “That’s not what you’re doing. You are submitting, and you are kowtowing. And they are saying if you draw a little cartoon, if you draw a stick figure and say it’s Mohammed, we’re going to come and kill you. And so you say, OK, we won’t draw it. CNN won’t show it. And like the other major networks.”

CUOMO: “You know that one of my problems with that is that I did show the cartoon after Charlie Hebdo. But I also understand the security concerns of CNN as an organization, and you should as well. Because if you hold another event, you knew there was a risk before. Not everybody can have 24 hour security. People who come to this event in their role as their form of patriotism, and they may be exposed to violence because you’re dealing with crazy people.”

GELLER: “They’re not crazy, they’re devout…”

CUOMO: “No, they are not just devout.”

GELLER: “You gave them that power. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Danish cartoons in 2005, they were very innocuous. Not one American media outlet would run those cartoons. You gave the violent jihadist the power.”

CUOMO: “Because members of the Muslim community who aren’t terrorists said they found it offensive.”

CUOMO: “But you also make it sound like this is what the war is about, is these cartoons.”

GELLER: “Yes, it is.”

CUOMO: “No, it isn’t.”

GELLER: “It’s about freedom!”

CUOMO: “It’s about — ISIS wants control of territory. They want everyone to live their way. The cartoon is the least of it. It just seems like you’re throwing a stone at something that doesn’t really help anything.”

GELLER: “Throwing a stone at something that can get my head chopped off. And it’s getting people’s heads chopped off all across the world.”

CUOMO: “But that’s why I’m talking to you about it, because it’s one thing to say they don’t like the cartoon. I’m going to show it, which is exactly what I did after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.”

GELLER: “…This is a fight; it’s about freedom or submission. You are submitting. You can say I’m not doing it for that reason, but you’re doing it.”

CUOMO: “But here’s the thing, you say it’s submitting because we won’t show the cartoon. When I talk about these guys, I say they’re crazy. You say they’re devout. That’s me being more hostile toward them than you. I won’t say their names. We call them murderers. We say about terror what it is, which is cowardice. That’s how we talk about it all the time. It’s far more provocative than just showing an inane cartoon, like you’re doing. So it’s not about surrender; it’s about sensibility.”

Geller’s strategy is one of the great rationalizations of our time: “you must fight fire with fire.” That’s simply wrong.

I too believe in an individual’s Second Amendment rights, but while Geller is eager to recite chapter and verse about her rights, she remains clueless as to the responsibilities that go along with those rights.

In a commentary entitled Rights vs. Responsibilities (Mar. 26, 2010), I wrote, “…some people are so focused on rights that they forget about the corresponding responsibilities.  The right to free speech carries with it the responsibility to speak in a  civil manner”; to treat all persons with respect without intimidation, coercion or violence.

“Ethics,” Justice Potter Stewart wrote, “is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.”

By actively inciting radical Islamists, Geller has chosen to not only ignore common sense but common decency.

Check out the NEW Let’s Be Honest page.


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