Pundits from the editors of the New York Times to Bill O’Reilly have denounced anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller for her Garland, Texas, Draw Mohammed cartoon contest. The contest, as everyone knows, was attacked by two Islamic terrorists who could have murdered many, including friends of mine, if they had not been shot dead by a heroic Texas lawman.
“Jesus would not have sponsored that event,” said O’Reilly, perhaps forgetting that Jesus was himself murdered for his harsh, public criticism of a religion. (He ought to read Killing Jesus!) “The goal of every decent person in the world should be to defeat the jihad. And in order to do that you have to rally the world to the side of good — our side. The emotional displays, like insulting the Prophet Muhammad, make it more difficult to rally law-abiding Muslims.”
I am well convinced of O’Reilly’s full, honest and courageous commitment to American liberty but I think it should give him pause to find himself in agreement with the New York Times editors, who have no such commitment. The editors said of the jihadis, “Their thwarted attack, or the murderous rampage of the Charlie Hebdo killers, or even the greater threat posed by the barbaric killers of the Islamic State or Al Qaeda, cannot justify blatantly Islamophobic provocations like the Garland event. These can serve only to exacerbate tensions and to give extremists more fuel.”
Now the argument that Geller’s event was mean and therefore a poor anti-jihad strategy is at least somewhat better than blaming Geller for the attempted violence. When I hear an editor or headline writer or commentator suggest that Geller somehow caused the attacks, I simply shoot him dead and then have him arrested for provoking me.
But the Times-O’Reilly argument is flawed because it effectively privileges violent Islam and dismisses Islamists as mindless beasts who can only react to provocation with murder. The Times, whose reviewer gave an absolutely ecstatic review to the Mormon-mocking musical “Book of Mormon,” routinely celebrates those artists who insult Christianity and even supports their receiving government funds for their attacks. They have also repeatedly called for Christians to be forced to participate in gay weddings which violate their religious consciences. They are no friend to religion, only enemies of the west and its belief in individual freedom for the common man.
I would never lump O’Reilly with tyrannical leftist knuckleheads like the Times editors. But I didn’t. O’Reilly did and, as a good and honest guy, he ought to think about that.
Islamic terror represents the single greatest threat to freedom and peace in the world today. The urgent question before the Good Guys (us) is whether that threat is inherent in the religion itself. The fact that most Islamic people are not violent is irrelevant. Most people with skin cancer don’t die of it, but skin cancer is still bad. The question is whether Islam by the very nature of its tenets gives rise to oppression, ignorance, suffering and widespread violent attacks against free humanity in ways that Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism and the rest do not.
Geller believes that yes, it does. She is by no means alone in this. The famous 14th century Dialogues Held with a Certain Persian, quoted by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2006 Regensburg Lecture, declares, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” (Muslims reacted to the pope’s suggestion that they were violent with acts of murderous violence, and it was the pope who was widely denounced. He apologized to save lives.) In 1759, the brilliant man of letters Samuel Johnson described Arabs as “a nation… who have carried on through the ages an hereditary war with mankind, though they neither covet nor envy their possessions.” And, of course, Winston Churchill, who managed to single-handedly save western civilization before the left could stop him, acknowledged that “individual Muslims may show splendid qualities,” but wrote in his book The River War that Islam itself was the most “retrograde force” on earth: “Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.” Indeed, one has only to look at the state of Muslim nations everywhere, and the nature of most terrorist violence today for evidence that Islam is special among religions in its evil effects on human life.
None of this is to compare Geller with the great men mentioned above, only to say that she is acting in an honorable tradition of thought at a moment of high conflict. She is, as she herself says, engaged in a war against what she believes to be a retrograde force violently on the march throughout the world. She has struck a blow in that war with the peaceful and honorable weapons of ridicule and contempt. The bad guys responded with attempted murder. Whether you agree with Geller or not, she acted honorably and peacefully according to her lights. Only one side is morally in the wrong.