When two men opened fire in Garland, Texas, Pamela Geller called it an attack on free speech. The men, Muslim roommates from Phoenix, Arizona, took it upon themselves to attack a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon event sponsored by Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative. It’s important to distinguish Charlie Hebdo from Geller’s group and the attack in Texas. Hebdo was an equal opportunity offender against any and all religions, not just Islam. As most anyone who reads print news, watches TV or gets information from any other sources knows well, Islamist extremists attacked and killed members of Charlie Hebdo, a French publication. Geller’s group specifically targets Islam for criticism.
The event in Texas was intended to award a prize for the best cartoon depicting Muhammad. As it happens, Islam has an express prohibition on depicting Muhammad, God and any other religious figures. They have no images, idols or other sacred objects as are common to other religions. Instead, they revere, for inspiration, geometric shapes. So it is to be expected, based on past events, that Muslims would take great offense at the cartoon contest. Most would stop short of trying to kill someone for the insult to their religious sensibilities. But knowing what has gone before, it came as no great surprise that some would. The upshot? An ostensible confirmation of the violence that Geller and her cronies attribute to Islam generally.
Is that a fair assessment? The Southern Poverty Law Center labels the American Freedom Defense Initiative a hate group in it’s Intelligence Watch list. Here is what the SPLC says about Geller:
Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims, such as that President Obama is the “love child” of Malcolm X. She makes no pretense of being learned in Islamic studies, leaving the argumentative heavy lifting to her Stop Islamization of America partner Robert Spencer. Geller has mingled comfortably with European racists and fascists, spoken favorably of South African racists, defended Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic and denied the existence of Serbian concentration camps. She has taken a strong pro-Israel stance to the point of being sharply critical of Jewish liberals.
In Her Own Words
“Islam is not a race. This is an ideology. This is an extreme ideology, the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth.”
— Pam Geller On Fox Business’ “Follow the Money,” March 10, 2011
Geller also runs the Stop Islamization of America group. The Anti-Defamation League (a Jewish organization) has called out Geller and her groups for promoting hatred and intolerance. So if a Jewish group is critical of an anti-islamic group as being extreme, that might be a clue that it really is.