Pamela Geller And Free Speech

May 18, 2015

Submitted by:  Veronica Coffin

By: Col. Tom Snodgrass (Ret.)

Right and Left Question And Condemn Pamela Geller’s “Provocation Of Islam”

On The Right:Pamela Geller

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly: “Insulting the entire Muslim world is stupid. It does not advance the cause of liberty or get us any closer to defeating the savage jihad. . . . The goal of every decent person in the world should be to defeat the Jihad and in order to do that you have to rally the world to the side of good, our side. Emotional displays like insulting the Prophet Mohammed make it more difficult to rally law abiding Muslims… In any war you have to win hearts and minds, and the situation in Garland, Texas goes against that.”

Fox News’ Laura Ingraham: “There are a lot of things that we can say, that we have a right to say, that we shouldn’t say. We shouldn’t unnecessarily insult people, personal attacks.”

Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren: “It’s one thing for someone to stand up for the First Amendment and put his own you-know-what on the line, but here, those insisting they were defending the First Amendment were knowingly putting officers’ lives on the line — the police.”

Donald Trump on “Fox & Friends”: “What is she doing drawing Mohammed?…What are they doing drawing Muhammad. Isn’t there something else they can draw?…I’m the one who believes in free speech probably more than she does, but what’s the purpose of this?”

On The Left:

New York Times: “There is no question that images ridiculing religion, however offensive they may be to believers, qualify as protected free speech in the United States and most Western democracies. There is also no question that however offensive the images, they do not justify murder, and that it is incumbent on leaders of all religious faiths to make this clear to their followers. But it is equally clear that the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Tex., was not really about free speech. It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom.”

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews: “This is problematic to me, because I wonder whether this group that held this event down there to basically disparage and make fun of the prophet Muhammad doesn’t in some way cause these events. Well, not the word ‘causing’ — how about provoking, how about taunting, how about daring?”

CNN host Alisyn Camerota to Geller: “And nobody is saying that this warrants the violence that you saw. I mean I haven’t heard anyone in the media saying that it’s okay for gunmen to show up at an event like this. But what people are saying is that there’s always this fine line, you know, between freedom of speech and being intentionally incendiary and provocative.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper to Geller: “Nothing justifies the attack, the violent attack. There is no justification, but I do want to ask you about your reasons for holding the event, if you’ll permit me. Charlie Hebdo ran a magazine in the name of satire and criticism and the magazine continues to attack every religion, every political party, all sorts of leaders. What was the purpose of holding an event that specifically focused on the prophet Muhammad?”

The Essence Of Right And Left Criticisms

Both sides of the political aisle are in agreement in condemnation of Geller’s exercise of her 1st Amendment right, that is, subjecting the “religion of peace” to 21st century satire.

Their complaints include that :

1) it was an unnecessary, insulting provocation which dishonored the U.S.,
2) it was disrespectful to “moderate Muslims,” thus alienating them from assisting us in the conflict against jihadists,
3) it was taunting in nature, putting innocents in gratuitous danger, and
4) it was pointless in terms of a winning strategy.

Answering The Right And Left Criticisms

National Review’s Rich Lowry: “Today, criticism of Islam is at the vanguard of the fight for free speech, since it is susceptible to attack and intimidation by jihadists and calls for self-censorship by the politically correct. . . . Yes, there is such a thing as self-restraint and consideration of the sensibilities of others, but it shouldn’t be the self-restraint of fear. Pamela Geller is a bomb-thrower, but only a metaphorical, not a literal, one. That’s the difference between her and her enemies — and between civilization and barbarism.”

Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens: “The higher criticism of Ms. Geller is that, while her constitutional rights are not in question, her judgment and wisdom are. I happen to think that Ms. Geller’s [is a] substantive contribution to the great foreign-policy debates of our time . . . A society that rejects the notion of a heckler’s veto cannot accept the idea of a murderer’s veto simply because the murderer is prepared to go to greater extremes to silence his opponents. . . . We live in an era where people like the idea of rights, so long as there is no price to their practice. We want to speak truth to power—so long as “truth” is some shopworn cliché and “power” comes in the form of an institution that will never harm you. Perhaps it was always so. But from time to time we need people to remind us that free speech is not some shibboleth to be piously invoked, but a right that needs to be exercised if it is to survive as a right.”

The Essence Of The Answers Defending Free Speech

As far as being an “unnecessary, insulting provocation that dishonored the U.S.,” when free speech is threatened, it is absolutely necessary that it be robustly and vigorously defended. And ANY criticism of Islam, including refuting the “religion of peace” lie by quoting Islamic scripture, is considered by Muslims to be an insulting provocation. So, any intellectual position or declaration, which is short of completely agreeing with and submitting to Islam, will be condemned by Muslims as provoking them. Finally, regarding free speech exercise dishonoring the U.S., like it or not satire is inbred in the U.S. culture. The true dishonor rests with Islam for being a religion that must kill people that intellectually disagree with Islam’s supremacist tenant that a negative assessment of Islam is punishable by death.

When it comes to the exercise of free speech being “disrespectful to moderate Muslims, thus alienating them from assisting us,” this is just a silly argument. Leaders in nations like Egypt and Jordan, which are threatened by Islamic jihadists, know that fighting jihadists is not a matter of pride – it is an existential matter of survival. To be clear, Muslims mortally threatened by jihadists are not going to decline to fight by our side because of pridefulness. Furthermore, Muslims are well aware of the criticisms against Islam. To pretend that the criticisms don’t exist is childish.

The assertion that “it was taunting in nature, putting innocents in gratuitous danger” is best answered with the question: “Why are innocents put in gratuitous danger by the exercise of free speech?” This assertion is acknowledgement that those opposing free speech are barbarians. Again another question: “Is there are code of conduct that guarantees safety when dealing with barbarians?” From the ancient Romans to Neville Chamberlain, such a code of conduct has proven nonexistent. Barbarians will attack when they believe it is to their advantage. Muslim culture is founded on the proposition that “might makes right,” and what is “right” and “moral” is doing whatever furthers the interests of Islam, irrespective of the human damage.

Finally, regarding “it was pointless in terms of a winning strategy” – nothing could be further from the truth. Such is the sentiment of the appeaser, or of the “dhimmi” to use the term common in the Muslim world. The U.S. and Western Civilization are currently losing the intellectual and psychological wars with Islam because no clear position has been enunciated by the leaderships. Pamela Geller finally drew an unmistakable line in the sand.


The Islamic jihadists’ declaration of war was undeniably made known at the World Trade Center on 9/11. President George Bush replied by falsely declaring that Islam is “a religion of peace.” President Barack Obama has doubled down on Bush’s fallacious declaration. Pamela Geller’s “Draw the Prophet Mohammed” contest exposed that Islamic terrorist violence is targeted at U.S. constitutional rights and underlined that we are in an existential war for our constitutional freedoms. Now it is up to U.S. political leadership, media, and American people to come together and show the same intellectual and physical courage as Pamela Geller did in Garland.


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