While she is well known for her opposition to Islamist terror, with her
notoriety for anti-Muslim rhetoric, Pamela Geller, as a subject, was
someone whom I generally avoided.
Her campaigns against "Jihad" were notable, but mainly for the reactions
they inspired and the way in which it highlighted the hypocrisy that
some on the left in America demonstrate when it comes to Free Speech.
Islamism, with its determined mission of suppressing dissent and its
fostering of ideals that inevitably lead to terror and repression, is
despicable. But just as despicable is prejudice against Muslims and the
presumption of guilt or sympathy for terror simply because of someone's
ethnic or cultural background. I didn't know if Geller's words justified
her reputation as a bigot and, to be honest, I didn't find her
interesting enough to inquire, so to my thinking she was irrelevant.
That changed recently when she stirred up a controversy in my part of
the world. The York Regional Police Department leaned on one of its
chaplains to cancel a speech by her because it didn't reflect their
"values of diversity," threatening to remove him as a police chaplain if
he hosted her at his synagogue. That would be reasonable if Geller's
reputation was true. Yet retaining a Muslim chaplain who attended a conference organized by a group with direct terrorist affiliations, including with al Qaida, demonstrated the York Police's rather odd and hypocritical concept of "values of diversity."
It seemed to me that it would be worthwhile to hear what Geller had to
say for herself, rather than to make a judgement based on what others
said about her, so I accepted an invitation to hear her speech.
I'm glad I did, because just about everything I'd heard about Pamela Geller was a lie.
There was nothing "anti-Muslim" in anything she said. Her fight is with
Jihadism, a fanatical ideology which promotes violence and terror.
Geller said her principal motivation is the struggle to preserve
individual liberty, which Islamism, like Marxism, fights to repress.
The delivery was fiery and pugnacious, but her message in fact resembled
that of Muslim reformers I know, such as Salim Mansur and Tarek Fatah,
who struggle to spread the word that it is Muslims themselves who are
victimized the most and harshest by Islamist totalitarianism. Like
those Muslim reformers, she warned that by turning a blind eye to
Islamism in North America, we encourage its growth here.
Geller spoke against the repression of women and female genital
mutilation and honor killings and the promotion of terrorism of which
most American Muslims find abhorrent, but far too many Islamic leaders,
such as those at the York Region Islamic Society, remain silent or even give tacit approval.
I could elucidate further, but that was in essence the entirety of her message and a review of her website and writings suggests that her talk last night is consistent with everything she has said in the past.
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