Blaming Pamela Geller

In the wake of an attempt to murder Pamela Geller and those who attended her “draw Mohammed” contest in Garland, Texas, lots of commentators are blaming the intended victim. The Washington Post, usually more sensible in such matters, joined in this morning with an article by its “social change reporter,” Sandhya Somashekhar, headlined: “Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas.” In response to which, Geller herself tweeted: “WaPo: JFK offers no apology after Lee Harvey Oswald shoots him in the head: It is unimaginable.” (Via Twitchy.)

The Post’s article begins:

Pamela Geller, the woman behind the Texas cartoon contest attacked by two gunmen late Sunday, knew what she was doing when she staged the controversial event featuring irreverent depictions of the prophet Muhammad in Garland, Tex.

I actually agree that Pamela knows what she is doing, but the reporter’s point seems to be that she had it–murder–coming.

If the contest was intended as bait, it worked. Police say two men drove 1,000 miles from Phoenix, shot at a police car outside the event and were quickly killed by one of the hired guards. The shooting has been condemned by Muslim leaders, and Geller, too, has come under fire for staging an event many viewed as purposely provocative.

So Geller provoked her own attempted murder by “baiting” radical Muslims. The article goes on to quote the Southern Poverty Law Center as though it were a respectable organization rather than a radical group that has itself incited others to violence. Then we have this:

In an interview with The Washington Post, Geller said she and her fellow organizers were “prepared for violence” this past weekend. In tweets immediately after the shooting, Geller appeared almost gleeful that she had been right.

These are the tweets Geller posted immediately after the shooting. Gleeful? You be the judge:

In describing Geller, Somashekhar writes:

And last month, she drew headlines and an unsuccessful lawsuit for sponsoring an ad campaign that featured a quote her organization credited to the Palestinian militant group Hamas: “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.”

Credited rightly or wrongly? The reporter’s locution makes it sound as though the quote is suspect, but it isn’t. Here it is, in a Hamas propaganda video:

The reporter gives the last word to CAIR. The entire import of the Post story is that Pamela Geller went looking for trouble, and it is mostly her own fault that two gunmen tried to kill her. Not a harsh word is spoken about the would-be murderers or their ideology.

This is one of many instances of the press blaming the victim, Ms. Geller, for the terrorist attack against her event. There was a time when one might have expected America’s news media to come down on the side of freedom of speech, but those days are, for the most part, gone. Andy McCarthy writes that criticisms of Geller miss the point:

[A]s I argue in Islam and Free Speech, it will not do to blame the messenger for the violence. The shooting last night was not caused by the free-speech event any more than the Charlie Hebdo murders were caused by derogatory caricatures, or the rioting after a Danish newspaper’s publication of anti-Islam cartoons was caused by the newspaper. The violence is caused by Islamic supremacist ideology and its law that incites Muslims to kill those they judge to have disparaged Islam. …

The threat to liberty in this instance is sharia blasphemy law. A bloc of Muslim-majority countries, with the assistance of the Obama administration (led by the U.S. State Department, particularly under Hillary Clinton), is trying to use international law to impose Islam’s repressive law to make it illegal to subject Islam to negative criticism. No sensible person favors obnoxious expression or gratuitous insult. But as I contend in the pamphlet, there is a big difference between saying “I object to this illustration of insensitivity and bad taste” and saying “I believe that what repulses me should be against the law.” …

It would be easy, in our preening gentility, to look down our noses at a Mohammed cartoon contest. But we’d better understand the scope of the threat the contest was meant to raise our attention to — a threat triggered by ideology, not cartoons. There is in our midst an Islamist movement that wants to suppress not only insults to Islam but all critical examination of Islam. That movement is delighted to leverage the atmosphere of intimidation created by violent jihadists, and it counts the current United States government among its allies.

The sad reality is that free speech has never been particularly popular. Now, as always, it is incumbent on those who would be free to stand up for the freedom of others.