PAM GELLER IS NOT THE REAL PROBLEM
By Cheryl Chumley
May 7, 2015
Pamela Geller has been taking quite a few hits in recent days for hosting the "Draw Muhammad" event in Garland, Texas, that led to an attack by two gunmen who've now been embraced by ISIS as one of their own.
But she's not the problem. Radical Islamism is -- and to a certain extent, so are some of those who condemn her for daring to host this event.
Donald Trump went on Fox & Friends to slam Geller, the American Freedom Defense Initiative president, as little more than crazy.
"It looks like she's just taunting everybody," Trump said. "What is she doing? Drawing Muhammad and it looks like she's taunting people. ... Isn't there something else they can draw? They can't do something else? They have to be in the middle of Texas and on Muhammad?"
Fox News giant Bill O'Reilly expressed similarly.
"Insulting a religion with more than a billion followers does not advance the cause of defeating the fanatical jihadists," he said, during a recent "O'Reilly Factor" segment. "It does not advance the cause of liberty or get us any closer to defeating the savage jihad."
Laura Ingraham, a guest on O'Reilly's show and a conservative giant in her own right, agreed the "Draw Muhammad" event wasn't helpful to the battle against radical Islamism, and that "we shouldn't unnecessarily insult people."
A few hours later, Brad Blakeman, a former staffer to George W. Bush and the past president of Freedom Watch, furthered the anti-Geller mantra on national television.
"The First Amendment gives Americans the right to be wrong. And there's nothing more wrong than to besmirch a religion," he said, on Fox News. "I can hate radical Islamism. But I respect Muslims."
And of the Texas event, he said simply: "We're better than this as Americans."
Even Rev. Franklin Graham, one of Christianity's staunchest defenders and an outspoken critic of radical Islamism, called the cartoon contest "wrong" and said those participating ought not to have insulted another's faith.
The commonality of all these critics is they believe in the First Amendment -- with Trump even claiming he believes in free speech "probably more than [Geller] does."
Well, there's no doubt they do believe in the First Amendment.
But so does Geller. And call her bold statement of free speech right or wrong, the fact is she makes a good point: If the media stopped self-censoring images of the prophet, and actually showed the pertinent pictures that have sparked terrorist attacks in the past, like the one on France's Charlie Hebdo, then events like the one she sponsored wouldn't be necessary. As she said to Martha MacCullum, while defending her First Amendment cause on Fox News: What are the terrorists going to do, blow up everybody in the media?
Maybe Gellar's event was taunting. Maybe it was mocking, insulting, stupid and even provocative. But as she says, in Time Magazine: "To kowtow to violent intimidation will only encourage more of it."
So go ahead -- fault Geller for insensitivity.
But her point of a cowardly, overly politically correct media is a valid one. The fact that's she willing to take on radicalized Islam with an in-your-face message shouldn't become the focus of more media attention than what's afforded the radicalized Islamists who seek to uproot this nation's First Amendment. On top of that, if the "Draw Muhammad" event is truly counterproductive to the goal of combating the "savage jihad," as O'Reilly termed it, what exactly is being accomplished by the very public criticisms of a U.S. citizen staging an anti-Shariah, pro-First Amendment event? The world is watching -- including the one belonging to the "savage jihad" and his supporters. We should be careful not to condemn Geller so loudly our nation's enemies chalk another win on the public relations front.
© 2015 Cheryl Chumley - All Rights Reserved
Cheryl K. Chumley is the author of "Police State USA: How Orwell's Nightmare Is Becoming Our Reality," and an award-winning journalist who currently writes for The Washington Times.