Pamela Geller and the Right to Express What We Call Hatred

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Some people believe Pamela Geller, the radical right-wing activist, has the constitutional right to pay the MTA to slap images of flaming planes and the Twin Towers on New York City buses.

Some people believe Pamela Geller should stand in front of those buses while they’re moving.

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Geller, of course, is executive director of a “human rights organization” called the Freedom Defense Initiative, and another radical-right hate-sect called Stop Islamization of America. Together, in my view, these groups aim to exterminate convert Muslims in the U.S. to Christianity. Or at least make life for them so unpalatable and potentially violent that they’ll leave the nation. I also believe Geller is a one-woman Kristallnacht just waiting to happen. It’s also my view that the religious hatred she symbolizes, the intolerance she fetishizes, does not mean Geller hasn’t the right, under the U.S. constitution, to express such points of view. She may represent, in my opinion, everything that’s wrong and twisted in America, everything that’s antithetical to America. But Geller also symbolizes why we must fight to preserve the right to communicate such views.

This is the reason why last week’s lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transit Authority was extremely important. Geller, on behalf of her organizations, sued the MTA, claiming that her First Amendment rights were being willfully infringed upon. And she was right: they were. Indeed, if First Amendment rights do not apply to people like Geller, they apply to no one. Trying to silence Geller’s bile merely empowers it. Allowing her venom to hit the air demystifies it.

To be sure, the press release announcing the suit was very telling. The dateline of Aug. 6 read “SIOA, FDI Sue New York City for Refusal to Run Ground Zero Bus Ads.” The opening graph stated that the suit was tied to the organizations’ “Preservation of Ground Zero” campaign, which obviously perpetuates the lie that a mosque will rise at Ground Zero. So let’s pause here once again and talk about what constitutes “at.”

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The structure — a community center with umpteen features that will be open to people of all faiths — will rise 250 yards from the furthest perimeter of Ground Zero. That’s 750 feet, or two to three blocks (depending how you measure).

Even though we’ve addressed this issue here already on the CFR, let’s try a different approach. Geller believes that the structure, to be called Park51, will rise “at” Ground Zero. So she believes, in other words, that 250 yards, which is 750 feet or 14.2% of a mile, means you’re “at” Ground Zereo. According to Priceline.com, the Washington Monument is .25 miles — that is, 25% of a mile — from the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. Does Geller believe that the Willard Hotel is “at” the Washington Monument? If not, where is the tipping point? Is it 15% of a mile? Is it 18% of a mile? Is it 20% of a mile? And who decided that Geller gets to decide?

The New York Observer ran a piece on Geller this week, and it contained this nugget:

When asked how far she thought the mosque should be from Ground Zero, she said, simply, “Not there.”

Then where? Where would be acceptable to this woman?

Meanwhile, what else is there in Geller’s propaganda press release?

CBS Outdoor’s representative also told Geller that the MTA didn’t want to “associate the new building” – that is, the Islamic supremacist Ground Zero mega-mosque – “with Ground Zero.” He told Geller: “The people behind the new building” – again, the Ground Zero mega-mosque – “say it has nothing to do with Ground Zero.”

However, Daisy Khan, wife of the Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, has said: “I think the building came to us, which goes to show that there is a symbolism there, and that there’s a divine hand in it. That it’s so close to the tragedy, that its close proximity is very symbolic for the fact that we really want to reverse what happened on 9/11.”

Thus mosque organizers themselves have linked the building to 9/11, yet the MTA forbade FDI to make the same link.

Geller comments: “Who cares what they say? What do they (the Ground Zero mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan) have to do with running my ad? They dictate what can and cannot run?”

She added: “I object to this censorship, which is effectively editing the viewpoint I am attempting to express in my message.”

Clearly, unquestionably, the MTA should never have put Geller into a position of moral strength in the first place. Far better, it seems to me, to let her and her kind air out their feculent racist stench and let the people decide what’s right. For without such an airing, we are treated to comments like these, toward the bottom of the press release, from Geller’s attorney:

“What makes this jihad against free speech so egregious is that the MTA has run any number of controversial religious and political ads without batting an eyelid. But as soon as the Shariah-faithful cowed Mayor Bloomberg and the MTA into dhimmi-like submission, the First Amendment to the Constitution gave way to Shariah’s blasphemy laws. How long before the Mayor’s office begins issuing fatwas against those who dare counter the ‘noble and peaceful outreach’ narrative?”

This is 2+2 = 5 territory and not worth the paper it isn’t printed on.

Oh, one last thing. This is how FDI and SIOA are defined:

FDI/SIOA is one of America’s foremost organizations defending human rights, religious liberty, and the freedom of speech against Islamic supremacist intimidation and attempts to bring elements of Sharia to the United States.

As an American Jew, I am ashamed of these people. But more than anything else, including what I may think of them, they have a right to express their views. The U.S. Constitution is stronger than these people can ever be.