Wishing to learn more about the terrorist attack on the Pamela Geller event in Texas, I typed “Pamela Geller” into Google and was rewarded with the following headlines:
“Don’t be fooled by Pamela Geller,” from CNN
“CNN’s Tapper to Pamela Geller: Why Specifically Make Mohammed Target of Event?” from Mediaite
“Who is Pamela Geller?” from Newsweek
“The toxic implication that Pamela Geller had last night’s terror attack in Texas coming,” from Hot Air
In other words, terrorists open fire and the American media go to work with hard-hitting takedowns of…the terrorists’ target. This is what Garry Trudeau might call “punching down.”
I don’t read Geller. She has a, shall we say, heterodox take on what happened in the Balkans after the breakup of Yugoslavia, and it’s sufficiently illiterate for me to distrust whatever else she says about world affairs. And when I want to learn more about Islam, I have Bernard Lewis, Albert Hourani, and Ernest Gellner as able guides.
Nevertheless, Geller has an absolute right to speak, an absolute right to hold events at which people draw the alleged prophet of Islam, and an absolute right to do these things without a self-appointed death squad interrupting the proceedings. That’s it. If your first instinct after a terrorist attack is to go to work on the target, I am entitled to question your priorities. No matter how many “I believe in free speech” preambles I hear, the inevitable “but” that follows is all I’m listening to.