How a Lunatic, Racist Blogger Is Fanning Hate Against Muslims -- With the Help of Our Dumb Media
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Pamela Geller, the once-obscure right-wing blogger known for peddling hateful, wildly over-the-top rhetoric (she once claimed that Barack Obama was the bastard stepchild of Malcom X) and for pulling stunts like taping a harangue against Muslims while clad in a bikini, has parlayed the anti-mosque hysteria sweeping across America into mainstream media attention just in time to promote her new book, The Post-American Presidency.
Geller and co-author Robert Spencer have been relentlessly promoting the “nontroversy” over the Park 51 project. According to a profile in the Guardian, the pair have “been at the forefront of drumming up opposition to the center, two blocks from Ground Zero, through an array” of organizations like the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamisation of America (SIOA). The groups “have become increasingly influential as conservative politicians exploit anti-Muslim sentiment before November's congressional and state elections.”
The groups’ ideology is reminiscent of the reckless demagoguery of Joe McCarthy. According to the Guardian, AFDI “says it is fighting ‘specific Islamic supremacist initiatives in American cities’ and hunting down ‘infiltrators of our federal agencies'." SIOA, which bills itself as a human rights organization "is tied to a similar group, Stop Islamisation of Europe, which goes by the motto: ‘Racism is the lowest form of human stupidity, but Islamophobia is the height of common sense.’"
The Atlantic’sJeffrey Goldberg calls Geller a “lunatic racist,” and laments the “very depressing” fact that despite being “a marginal nutbag… it seems as if she's setting the national agenda now on matters related to Islam and religious freedom.” Spencer previously penned several books advancing dark conspiracy theories about Islam, including Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs . He’s also the proprietor of Jihad Watch, a wingnut Web site that helped raise thousands of dollars to pay for a controversial ad campaign smearing the Park 51 project on New York City buses.
According to the Guardian,Geller’s blog, Atlas Shrugs, “lays bare her sympathies with extremist groups across the globe.” Geller “vigorously defended Slobodan Milosevic” when he was tried for war crimes at the Hague, denying that the Serbs committed atrocities during the 1990s. She has “allied herself with racist extremists in South Africa in promoting a claim that the black population is carrying out a ‘genocide’ of whites,” and says that she “shares the goals” of the far-right English Defense League (EDL). "We need to encourage rational, reasonable groups [like the EDL] that oppose the Islamisation of the West,” she wrote. Geller has also embraced Geert Wilders, the far-right Dutch politician who advocates banning the Qu'ran.
While Geller and Spencer have been basking in the glare of mainstream coverage, some of her fellow agitators have taken a lower profile, and for good reason. Their past writings reveal a history of extremism and bigotry that should lay to rest any notion that the organized opposition to the Islamic community center being built near the site of the former World Trade Center is based on “sensitivity” to the 9/11 victims.
According to Charles Johnson, a right-wing blogger who had a noisy falling out with Geller when the latter appeared at a conference organized by European fascists (apparently that was a bridge too far even for Johnson, who was described by Gawkeras a “hysterical right-wing Muslim-hating blogger”), Geller founded AFDI with attorney David Yerushalmi, who, according to journalist Bruce Wilson, advocated “legislation that would effectively outlaw Islam in the United States by imposing 20 year jail sentences on practicing Muslims.”
Yerushalmi's bile isn’t limited to Islam. In an article titled “On Race: a Tentative Discussion” ( PDF), Yerushalmi begins by calling Islam “an evil religion,” and “blacks … the most murderous of peoples,” before calling into question whether women and people of color should be allowed to vote. “There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote,” he wrote. “You might not agree or like the idea but this country’s founders, otherwise held in the highest esteem for their understanding of human nature and its affect on political society, certainly took it seriously.” According to Johnson, “Yerushalmi has deleted as much evidence of the “On Race” article as he could; he removed it from the Internet Archive and the Google cache, and put his entire Web site behind a registration wall.”