SAN DIEGO, May 5, 2015 —The good news is that two gunmen for whom ISIS claimed responsibility, in an attempt to wage jihad against the participants of a cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, were stopped by some well-organized security that anticipated the possibility of such action. The bad news is that many are condemning the contest as much if not more than the would-be killers.
Organizer of the event is outspoken Pamela Geller, publisher of the blog “Atlas Shrugs” and president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative. She defended the cartoon-drawing event as being in honor of
Charlie Hebdo, the French newspaper that was attacked a few months ago for its use of satire regarding the Prophet Mohammad.
Frequently accused of being “anti-Muslim,” Geller retorts, “The problem is that a group … attempted to open fire on a gathering of free speech. … No one is saying that there aren’t peaceful Muslims, but there is a problem in Islam, as illustrated last night. And anyone that addresses it gets attacked in this same way.”
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Unfortunately, the politically correct these days are quite adept at throwing around sound bites as an alternative to meaningful dialogue. This is not the first time they have vilified Geller, nor will it be the last. Perhaps those who wish to speak some sense would do well to counter with a few sound bites of their own so that courageous people such as Pamela Geller do not feel like they have to stand alone.
In that vein, allow me to offer some quick defenses to some of the more ignorant attacks:
The Anti-Defamation League says Geller is “vilifying the Islamic faith under the guise of fighting radical Islam.”
RESPONSE: Actually, it is not “radical islam” that commands jihad. Rather, it is the religion itself. Such commands can be found clearly in the Koran (Surah 9) as dictated by Mohammad, who brought Islam into power by conquering Mecca. So let’s be clear: It is the peaceful Muslims who are radically deviating from their faith.
Haroon Moghul in an article for CNN said, “She (Pamela Geller) went on Fox News and called it a war. And that appears to be what she wants.”
RESPONSE: It is not Pamela Geller who has declared war. It is Islamic organizations such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS. They have not been shy about their objective.
New Day host Alisyn Camerota, while interviewing Geller, said there is a“fine line between freedom of speech and being intentionally incendiary and provocative.”
RESPONSE: The whole idea of our First Amendment was to protect offensive speech. If all speech was going to be friendly and benign, we would need no legal protections.
And while we’re on the subject of being incendiary and provocative, keep in mind that this event was designed as a reaction AGAINST the incendiary and provocative threats coming our way from jihadists, particularly their ruthless murders of many staff people at Charlie Hebdo. It was a time for courageous people to come together in solidarity, letting the world know that we will not be intimidated.
The Huffington Post calls Geller “Islamophobic.”
RESPONSE: Phobia simply means “fear,” and “fear” is a neutral word. The appropriateness or inappropriateness of fear depends upon the situation. If jihadists have declared war upon the United States and western civilization, perhaps some sobering fear is warranted. And yet, ironically, the whole purpose of Geller’s cartoon contest was to take a stand against ugly threats rather than being fearful. But if you’re waiting for Geller to be be called “Islamocourageous,” don’t hold your breath.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has Geller on a list of hate groups.
RESPONSE: Once again we are dealing with a neutral word. Some things deserve to be hated. After all, would not SPLC members be the first to say that they hate racism and bigotry? Well, Geller hates murderers who kill people for drawing cartoons.
According to the Washington Post, some Muslims in Garland, Texas, called this event “blasphemous.”
RESPONSE: The event may be blasphemous to Muslims, but to those who do not share the Muslim faith, it is not blasphemous. We are not obligated to take on the avoidance of blasphemy as a border to our speech. Many Christians were upset with an artistic offering called “Piss Christ.” Nobody worried that a bunch of nuns or priests were going to gun down the artist. This is because most Christians have accepted the fact that what Jesus means to them is not to be imposed upon others.
In response to Geller’s subway ads a while back, which called jihadists “savages,” many New Yorkers called Geller a “racist.”
Read Also: Terrorism loses in Texas; America wins
Spoiler alert: Islam is not a race. It is a religion. Not everybody in the Middle East is Muslim, and many people in the west, including Americans, are Muslim. What Geller is objecting to is a religious based ideology.
But perhaps the most pathetic criticism of all comes from Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, a former NYPD officer who was also denouncing Geller’s New York City ads: “This is irresponsible…It is no different than sitting in a crowded room yelling fire.”
That’s the most tired argument of all, the notion that freedom of speech does not give us the right to yell “fire” in a crowded room. Well, that all depends on whether there really is a fire. If a real honest-to-goodness fire is blazing in a crowded room, failing to alert the crowd is negligent and irresponsible.
In the case of modern jihadists, the fire is there. Burying our heads in the sand will not discourage groups like ISIS from cutting them off.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.