CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 17, 2015 – Since the controversial Muhammad cartoon exhibition in Garland, Texas, Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs, the primary organizer of the event, has sent out an email to thousands of her readers in response to the ensuing uproar and failed terrorism attempt.
Geller, and most of her advocates, have claimed from the outset that the exhibition was meant to focus upon free speech and how the Islamic world denies such freedom through Sharia law and intimidation.
Detractors have said that Geller’s efforts were intentionally designed to goad Muslims into a predictable response by displaying disrespect of Islam.
Geller’s email addressed those views, writing, “People say we ‘provoked’ the jihadis. But it has since come out that they were already looking for targets to hit — they are already provoked. Our event just smoked them out. If we had not had such extensive security, many more people would have died. All that from one little art event.”
The truth, more realistically, lies somewhere in the middle, though not exactly in the center. Geller is a widely recognized critic of Islam, which means she knew well in advance that her “exhibition” would be provocative to Muslims.
Though the organizers certainly knew they were playing with fire, they are correct in saying that you cannot “provoke” Islamists more than they are already provoked. At the same time, however, staging and promoting an event that was guaranteed to arouse negative passions was tantamount, in political terms, to going for a two-point conversion in the final 30 seconds of a football game when your team is leading by 50 points.
Geller continues by saying, “With just one small, relatively obscure presentation, America has been made aware that the threat is here. Obama cannot ignore and excuse terrorism that is committed in the name of Islam, and we exposed the quislings and apologists for jihad terror among the political, cultural and media elites. This has come with an enormous cost. We are now marked. Marked for life.”
Here again, Geller’s views are skewed, even though, in the scheme of things, they do reflect the truth of the message she is attempting to convey.
The Muhammad show may not have been recognized well in advance by the media, and the number of participants was only a couple of hundred. Given the amount of time devoted to its promotion and the prestige of the speakers, however, it was hardly “one small, relatively obscure” event. Making it out to be somewhat insignificant is spin to make the negative Islamic reaction appear larger.
As for being “marked for life,” that is true, but it is also something Geller knew would happen when she undertook her project. She was all too aware that a fatwa would be issued. It was part of the consequences she undertook.
Geller’s reaction in her email makes it sound as though the results were a surprise to her.
Even the artists who participated in the contest had to know their contributions would put them in jeopardy.
The text of the fatwa against Geller and her collaborators was brief and written in broken English.
“To those who protect her (Geller), this will be your only warning of housing this woman and her circus show. Everyone who houses her events, gives her a platform to spill her filth are legitimate targets. We have been watching closely who was present at this event and the shooter of our brothers.
“We have 71 soldiers in 15 different states ready at our word to attack any target we desire. Out of the 71 soldiers, 23 have signed up for missions like Sunday. The disbelievers who shot our brothers think you killed someone untrained, nay, they gave you their bodies in plain view because we were watching.”
Chances are the 71 soldiers would have been in the U.S. anyway, even without the Muhammad exhibition. Equally likely is that Geller probably did not realize what the extent of the fatwa would be.
As she correctly states, “This is not just about protecting some people from being attacked and killed. This is about taking a stand and showing the world that violence, murder and threats will not win. Few have realized just how different everything is after Garland: now Americans will have to watch their back every time they do anything that Muslim fanatics think ‘offends Islam.’”
Indeed the Garland exhibition did create awareness of Islamic extremism…for a moment at least. The question is, how long will that awareness last in the continuous barrage of 24/7 news cycles where there is “breaking news” every hour on the hour?
In other words, was the gamble worth the consequences for Geller, her colleagues and the American people?
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News
Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod