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The “9/11 Freedom Rally” being hosted this Sunday by Pamela Geller, the notorious Muslim-basher whose blog once suggested that President Obama was the “love child” of Malcolm X, is meant to generate anger at Muslims and their faith on the 10th anniversary of America’s deadliest terrorist attack. Geller’s rally is only one of several planned around that date that are also taking aim at Islam.
Geller’s event is notable for the roster of hard-rightists she and her allies have lined up to speak at the event in lower Manhattan. They include:
John Bolton: No stranger to controversy, the former ambassador to the United Nations will be joining Geller for the second year at a 9/11 rally. Bolton appeared at last year’s rally in such notable company as prominent Dutch anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders. Though Bolton served as ambassador to the U.N. from 2005-2007, he has long dismissed the legitimacy of the organization. Geller endorsed Bolton when President George W. Bush nominated him as ambassador (Bush ended up granting him a recess appointment because of difficulties with his confirmation) and since then, Bolton has been an ally, giving her multiple interviews and writing the foreword to Geller and fellow Islamophobe Robert Spencer’s anti-Obama book, The Post-American Presidency. Bolton is well known for his hard-line views about U.S. foreign policy, especially with regard to the Middle East. As ambassador, he championed controversial hard-line Israeli military policies, and tried to block Security Council resolutions that condemned Israel’s use of force in Gaza. In 2009, he said in a speech at the University of Chicago that unless Israel was prepared to use nuclear weapons against Iran’s nuclear program, Iran would have nuclear weapons in the near future.
René Stadtkewitz: The German member of Parliament is the leader of Germany’s right-wing, anti-Islamic Freedom Party. He has called Islam “the opposite of a free society” and said that “Islam has always been a religion of conquest.” In an interview with Middle Eastern news source The National, Stadtkewitz said that he believes minaret-building should be banned; that headscarves should not be allowed in schools; that no public funding should be used to teach young children the Koran; that the influence of Islamic organizations should be curbed, and that Germany should implement an immigration freeze. According to the newsmagazine Der Spiegel, Stadtkewitz envisions his country as one that is oriented toward Christianity and the West, largely free of Muslims. In spite of that, Stadtkewitz insists he has nothing against Muslims. It’s Islam—the ideology—that is “dangerous.”
Ezra Levant: Levant is a Canadian lawyer and founder of the libertarian-conservative news source The Western Standard. He is also a TV host for “The Source,” on Sun News, which takes a conservative, populist stance. Levant is perhaps best known for republishing Danish anti-Muslim cartoons in the Standard, for which he was sued. Levant has warned about the dangers of Islam and has also bashed President Obama, calling him the “Manchurian president.” He decries the U.S. media for helping initiate a “cover-up” about Obama’s background. He claims Obama will go down as “the worst president” in American history. Earlier this month, Levant described Geller as “a crusader for freedom.”
Ilario Pantano: The New York-born former Marine ran unsuccessfully for Congress in North Carolina as a Tea Party-backed Republican in 2010. Pantano is another repeat speaker for Geller, having spoken at Geller’s 2010 9/11 rally, held to protest the so-called “Ground Zero mosque.” He has also written on the right-wing Daily Caller site and claimed that the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan is about “marking religious, ideological and territorial conquest.” To claim that the mosque is anything other than a “permanent demonstration of Islam’s march on the West is naïve,” he wrote. Pantano served in both the original Gulf War and later, in 2004, in Iraq. In 2005, he was charged with the premeditated murder of two unarmed Iraqi civilians. According to witness accounts, Pantano fired two full ammunition clips into them and left a placard inscribed with the Marine motto with the bodies: “No better friend, no worse enemy.” Pantano doesn’t dispute that he killed the Iraqis. He told New York magazine that he believed that by firing the number of rounds that he did, “I was sending a message.” The premeditated murder charge was later dropped because “no credible evidence” could be found to verify it.
Joyce Kaufman: An anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant conspiracy-monger, Florida radio host Kaufman is perhaps best known now as Congressman Allen West’s (R-FL) first choice for his chief of staff following the Tea Party-backed candidate’s election. At a summer 2010 rally, Kaufman, stumping for West’s election, said that if “ballots don’t work, bullets will.” After more reports of her harsh rhetoric started emerging, Kaufman rejected West’s offer. Kaufman has said of immigrants that they “are people who want to change your way of life, and some of them may be your gardeners.” In 2007, she said on her radio show that if an undocumented immigrant commits a crime in the U.S., “we should hang you and send your body back to where you came from, and your family should pay for it.” She has accused Florida schools of using textbooks that are pro-Islam, anti-Christian and anti-Jewish.
Darla Dawald: A former healthcare administrator, Dawald is national director of the Patriot Action Network (PAN), the action network of Grassfire Nation, and a prominent speaker at Tea Party and antigovernment “Patriot” movement events. PAN bills itself as the country’s largest conservative social action network, claiming 1.8 million members. PAN’s primary mission is to re-establish “Constitution-based liberty and limited government through dialogue, debate, legislation and elections.” Dawald spoke at Geller’s 9/11 “Rally of Remembrance” in 2010 (video), where she opposed the proposed lower Manhattan Islamic center vilified by its enemies as the “Ground Zero mosque.” She has blogged at “Islam Sharia Watchmen,” a PAN-affiliated site, where she warns of the “Sharia threat” to America and appeals to her audience to “stop the creeping sharia and Islam [sic] radicalization of America.”
James Lafferty: Lafferty is the founder and chairman of a group called the Virginia Anti-Sharia Taskforce (VAST), whose purpose is to oppose the “implementation of the radical, barbaric and anti-Constitutional Shariah law in Virginia or anywhere in America.” Lafferty, who is a board member of Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative, is also the husband of Andrea Lafferty. Andrea Lafferty is the president of the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), a religious right group that recently has also jumped on the anti-Islamic bandwagon. (The Southern Poverty Law Center lists TVC as a hate group based on its false propaganda about LGBT people.)