Sunday evening two men fired shots outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, which was hosting a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest. The two gunmen wounded a security guard before they were both shot and killed by police at the scene. The event was sponsored by Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), an anti-Muslim organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists as a hate group.
Shortly after the shootings, Geller posted on her website:
This is a war. This is war on free speech. What are we going to do? Are we going to surrender to these monsters?
It is a war that Geller is all too eager to engage in. Geller has a long history of spreading lies about Islam. Geller’s falsehoods about Islam include her wild assertion that when Muslims pray “they’re cursing Christians and Jews five times a day”.
Her incendiary ideas also take aim at President Barack Obama, who she argues is beholden to “Islamic overlords.” She also contends that Obama wants “jihad” to win in the United States. Furthermore, she believes Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery, and that he is the love child of Malcolm X.
Despite her complete disconnection from reality, she is a frequent guest on the Fox News network. Apparently hating Muslims gives her that special kind of expertise they are looking for to provide “valuable insight” on issues of religion and foreign policy.
Geller is certainly going to milk the attack for all it is worth, to further spread her broad-brush, inflammatory denunciations of Islam. Unfortunately, her message’s appeal will be strengthened, as she can point to the Garland shootings to try to make her case.
To be clear, no matter how toxic Geller’s rhetoric is, there can be no justification for the actions of the two men who shot the security guard outside the event. Hate speech cannot be countered with violence. Shooting the security guard was a morally reprehensible act.
Furthermore, the actions of the two gunmen do not silence Geller. Instead, the shooting gives Geller more ammunition for spreading her hateful ideology. If the attackers viewed themselves as defenders of Islam against the prejudices of people like Geller, they are dead wrong. Geller’s intention was to provoke and incite Muslims, and if the shooters took the bait, they have become her enablers.
Whatever their reason for committing the shooting was, they have given Geller an opportunity to play the victim as a sympathetic martyr, who was unjustly attacked. The shooters have done everyone who values peaceful co-existence a tremendous disservice. By pouring gasoline on the flames lit by the Queen of anti-Muslim rage, the shooters just became a great recruiting tool for expanding Geller’s intolerant army of Muslim-hating Americans. The whole nation, but most of all Muslim-Americans, will suffer as a result.
Image via CNN
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.