Guest Column: The problem with being Pamela Geller
In recent weeks, there have been at least three articles titled “Je Suis Pam Geller,” so I’ll try to one-up them by saying that I’ve been Pam Geller since the early months following Sept. 11.
Back when President Bush was tiptoeing around, insisting that Islam is “a religion of peace”; when, during the Concert for New York City, Richard Gere was prescribing the medicine of love and compassion for the terrorists (until a rescue worker shouted out that Osama bin Laden could kiss his royal, Irish ass); and when people who think like Rosie O’Donnell were blaming the attacks on the U.S. — when all this was going on, Geller struck what for me was the right note, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.”
Of course, those of us who have been taught to have a low regard for the civilization of the West are quick to bristle: Who is Pamela Geller, whose people were arbitrarily classified as “untermenschen” not long ago by a civilized society that held itself in high regard — who is she now to turn around and label another people as “savage”?
It’s a fair question, especially when contrasting the culture of Islam with the permissive, self-indulgent, vulgar and profane dimensions of our own culture — one that, among other things, has ripped from the womb and incinerated 55 million of our own kind in America in just four decades.
Still, common sense must prevail. Whose actions can you think of that rival those of Sept. 11 for sheer savagery and barbarity? Those of Vlad the Impaler? One has to dig deep to find a moral equivalent. Compared with 9/11, the dropping of the atomic bomb on two Japanese cities was infinitely more reasoned, proportional and therefore “civilized.”
Score one for Geller. Nevertheless, as she has persisted in arguing how inimical sharia is to values that almost all of us share, she has been persistently branded as “hateful” and “provocative” — at the very least, “unwise” — by many on the right as well as the left. Indeed, even Fox News has a hung jury and is truly “fair and balanced” on the subject of Geller.
Just as one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter, as Kofi Annan once remarked, so what for Geller is “free speech,” greatly to be valued, is for others “hate speech,” greatly to be censured.
To my way of thinking, her critics not only mistake outrage for “hate” but also miss the degree to which her outrage is directed, not simply at jihadists but at those of us who appear so unconcerned about ceding our future to them, as predicted so convincingly by Mark Steyn in “After America.”
Nor is Geller “Islamophobic,” since a phobia is an unreasoning fear and there’s nothing irrational about her response to people who artistically choreograph beheadings of men in orange jumpsuits by the seashore — or to those whose silent passivity is tacit complicity.
No, in her outrage, Geller is no more a threat to our way of life than was Voltaire, whose battle cry, “Ecrasez l’infame,” was aimed principally at the thought-control exercised by the Church of Rome, which went so far as to blame the great Lisbon earthquake on the sinful conduct of Lisbon’s citizens.
“To learn who rules over you,” Voltaire said, “simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” In his case, it was the church. But satire prevailed, and the Church itself is better off for it.
But what is it that Geller’s critics — who frown even upon a satirical cartoon — will not allow her to criticize, and why? What is it that rules over them?
Is it their worship of diversity and their fear of discovering that multiculturalism has a dark side — that all cultures may not in fact be equal, let alone compatible?
Or is it that their aversion to Jewish and Christian culture trumps their aversion to this new Islamist nonsense? While they were hard at work bulldozing the “tyranny” of the Judeo-Christian tradition into the ground, along came Sept. 11, threatening to revive the corpse and create a “holy war.” Inconvenient, to say the least.
Recognizing, however, that Islamists also hate Jews and Christians, the left appears to have concluded that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, at least for now. First we’ll bury the Ten Commandments, and then we’ll deal with sharia. In the meantime, we’ll show Muslims how tolerant we are and perhaps assimilate them as Europe is doing. (Yes, gentle reader, that was a joke.)
Meanwhile, Geller, who maintains that the only moderate Muslim is a secular Muslim, appears to be on her way to some kind of martyrdom, whether at the hands of jihadists, should her personal security prove insufficient, or by way of not-so-friendly fire from her politically correct peers, among whom she is a prophet without honor.
Sucks to be her, as some might put it. Is it time for Geller to think again, perhaps? Or should we be doing that?
Chad Klinger lives in Basalt. He invites readers to satirize the views expressed here if they can.