Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement's most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She's relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims, such as that President Obama is the "love child" of Malcolm X. She makes no pretense of being learned in Islamic studies, leaving the argumentative heavy lifting to her Stop Islamization of America partner Robert Spencer. Geller has mingled comfortably with European racists and fascists, spoken favorably of South African racists, defended Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic and denied the existence of Serbian concentration camps. She has taken a strong pro-Israel stance to the point of being sharply critical of Jewish liberals.
In Her Own Words
"Islam is not a race. This is an ideology. This is an extreme ideology, the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth."
— Pam Geller On Fox Business' "Follow the Money," March 10, 2011
"Obama is a third worlder and a coward. He will do nothing but beat up on our friends to appease his Islamic overlords."
— Pam Geller, AtlasShrugs.com, April 13, 2010
"Hussein [meaning President Obama] is a muhammadan. He's not insane … he wants jihad to win."
— Pam Geller, AtlasShrugs.com, April 11, 2010
"I don't think that many westernized Muslims know when they pray five times a day that they're cursing Christians and Jews five times a day. … I believe in the idea of a moderate Muslim. I do not believe in the idea of a moderate Islam."
— Pam Geller, The New York Times, Oct. 8, 2010
"Now do I see everything through the prism of Israel? No, I don't, but I do think it's a very good guide. It's a very good guide because, like I said, in the war between the civilized man and the savage, you side with the civilized man. … If you don't lay down and die for Islamic supremacism, then you're a racist anti-Muslim Islamophobic bigot. That's what we're really talking about."
– Pam Geller, The New York Times, Oct. 8, 2010
Pamela Geller spent most of the 1980s working at The New York Daily News in financial analysis, advertising and marketing. Later, she became associate publisher of The New York Observer and stayed in that position until 1994. According to one online resume, she also served as senior vice president for strategic planning and performance evaluation at Brandeis University.
Married in 1990 to Michael Oshry, Geller spent the 1990s and most of the 2000s as a well-to-do Long Island housewife. After divorcing in 2007, she mostly busied herself rearing her four children, writing blogs and posting slam poetry-style videos trashing all things liberal on her YouTube channel.
Geller and Oshry were co-owners, along with Christ Tsiropoulous, of at least two car dealerships before the Gellers divorced in 2007. That was the same year Collin Thomas, one of their salesmen, was gunned down while closing their dealership, Universal Auto World, one evening.
The investigation into the murder uncovered an alleged fraud ring. According to the New York Daily News, employees enabled "underground characters," including "known" drug dealers, to buy luxury cars using fake identities. Eleven people who worked for the dealership, including Tsiropoulous, were arrested, but Geller escaped the scandal unscathed. According to The New York Times, she received a $4 million divorce settlement, a portion of $1.8 million from the sale of the Long Island home and then a $5 million life insurance payment when Oshry died a few months after remarrying in 2008. The criminal case has not moved forward since the 2008 arrests.
In October 2010, Geller told The New York Times she was profoundly affected by the 9/11 attacks. After contributing essays to various websites that examined Muslim militancy, including Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs, she launched her own website. She named her website "Atlas Shrugs" in honor of right-wing hero and self-described objectivist author Ayn Rand, a Geller idol whose 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged celebrates pure capitalism unrestrained by government regulation or social welfare measures. The unvarnished anti-Muslim stridency of Atlas Shrugs won followers; Geller republished the 2005 cartoons of Muhammad from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, for example, when most other media demurred.
Johnson, a moderate conservative, later broke sharply with Geller, calling her an anti-Muslim "hatemonger." After Geller, who is Jewish, posted a critique of the Islamic halal practice of slaughtering animals for food in September 2010, Johnson pointed out that kosher practice is almost identical and observed, "My GOD she is stupid."
Geller began her evolution from blogger to public activist in 2007 when she joined Stop the Madrassa, a project of a group of intense anti-Muslim activists determined to block the opening of a secular public Arabic-English school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy, in Brooklyn, N.Y. The campaign was intended as an early stand in a planned nationwide movement to counteract the efforts of American Muslims to meld into American society, according to one of its leaders, prolific anti-radical Muslim polemicist Daniel Pipes. Though the school ultimately opened anyway, Stop the Madrassa's efforts to cast the school's widely admired founding principal, Dhabah "Debbie" Almontaser, as a radical extremist succeeded in pressuring her to resign.
A proposal by a New York City imam and his financier partner to renovate an abandoned building in lower Manhattan into a 13-story mosque and community center would prove to be Geller's ticket to anti-Muslim superstardom. Geller first blogged about the project, originally known as Cordoba House but later called the Park51 project, in December 2009. Four months later, she and longtime radical Muslim alarmist Robert Spencer joined forces, taking over the organization Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), then an unexciting adjunct of a Denmark-based group called Stop Islamization of Europe. One of SIOA's first projects was to purchase controversial bus ads in New York and Miami inviting Muslims to reject Islam.
In June 2010, just two months after taking over SIOA, Geller and Spencer staged a rally in Lower Manhattan to oppose the Park51 project. It drew thousands of demonstrators, and plenty of media coverage. As had been done with Almontaser, Geller and Spencer led an effort to depict the project's planners as radical extremists. They insinuated – with little to go on – that the project's financing might be tied to terrorists. They absurdly described the project as an Islamic "victory mosque" to celebrate the 9/11 attacks, modeled after Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock, though no Muslim had ever suggested such a thing. Geller and Spencer were able to build SIOA into a propaganda powerhouse that the Southern Poverty Law Center listed as an anti-Muslim hate group in 2010.
By mid-2010, the telegenic Geller had become a virtual fixture on Fox News, invited to comment not only on the supposed threat posed by Muslims and Shariah law in America but even on popular unrest in Arabic countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Through her website, Geller has promulgated some of the most bizarre conspiracy theories found on the extreme right, including claims that President Obama is the love child of Malcolm X, that Obama was once involved with a "crack whore," that his birth certificate is a forgery, that his late mother posed nude for pornographic photos, and that he was a Muslim in his youth who never renounced Islam. She has described Obama as beholden to his "Islamic overlords" and said that he wants jihad to be victorious in America. In April 2011, Geller accused Obama of withholding evidence in the then-upcoming trial of accused Fort Hood mass murderer Major Nidal Malik Hasan.
Geller uses her website to publish her most revolting insults of Muslims: She posted (and later removed) a video implying that Muslims practiced bestiality with goats and a cartoon depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammad with a pig's face (observant Muslims do not eat pork). Geller also has denied the genocide of Bosnian Muslims by Serbian forces in Srebrenica – calling it the "Srebrenica Genocide Myth," even though the Serbian government itself issued a state apology for the massacre. She wrote, "Westerners are admitting to their role in something that didn't happen, and digging their own graves."
Geller will ally with virtually any individual or movement that expresses stridently anti-Muslim sentiments, no matter how otherwise repugnant. As a result, she has frequently rubbed shoulders with elements of white radicalism. In 2009, Geller was invited to address the German far-right organization Pro Köln [Cologne], described as a successor group to the neo-fascist German League for People and Homeland. Pro Köln at the time was under investigation by the German authorities because of its defamation of foreigners and suspected violations of "human dignity." As of early 2011, Pro Köln was officially deemed a right-wing extremist group by the German authorities.
Geller is an enthusiastic fan of Dutch anti-Muslim extremist Geert Wilders. He was charged in 2009 with hate-incitement in the Netherlands, but not convicted. She invited Wilders to speak at the June 2010 "Ground Zero Mosque" rally. In June 2010, Geller spoke at an event in Paris put on by the Bloc Identitaire, which opposes race-mixing and "Islamic imperialism."
Geller invited the notorious British anti-Muslim group English Defence League (EDL) to her September 2010 anti-mosque rally in New York. The previous May, a report by the British newspaper The Guardian revealed the EDL as thugs who hold anti-Muslim protests intended to provoke violence. Because of its racism and history, the EDL's leader, Tommy Robinson, was denied entry at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and sent back to England.
Yet Geller described the EDL in May 2010 as "courageous English patriots" when the group mobilized popular anger to oppose the construction of a mosque in the town of Dudley, near Birmingham, England. "There is nothing racist, fascist, or bigoted about the EDL," she wrote. In February 2010, she wrote in her blog, "I share the E.D.L.'s goals. We need to encourage rational, reasonable groups that oppose the Islamisation of the West."
In February 2011, she spoke favorably of Soviet leader Josef Stalin's forced relocation and genocide of Chechen Muslims after World War II, arguing – wrongly – that they were allied with Adolf Hitler. Historians say Chechens were fighting to preserve their own freedom and culture.
Geller's incendiary rhetoric and readiness to deny civil freedoms and the presumption of innocence to Muslims hasn't prevented her from gaining a measure of mainstream acceptability. In late March 2011, she was even invited by the Alaska House of Representatives to testify on a proposed anti-Shariah bill.
Geller's anti-Muslim stance has also drawn the admiration of white nationalist and even neo-Nazi proponents on the extreme right – a rather remarkable feat, considering she is Jewish. She has been the subject of positive postings on racist websites such as Stormfront, VDARE, American Renaissance and the neo-Confederate League of the South.
Geller was one of several prominent anti-Muslim activists cited by the Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik in the manifesto he posted online hours before killing 77 of his countrymen, mostly teenagers, at a left-wing youth camp in August 2011. In the wake of the attack, Geller downplayed the influence of her views on Breivik, making much of the fact that his screed had only mentioned her by name once. This conveniently ignored the manifesto’s dozen citations of her blog and 64 mentions of her SIOA partner, Robert Spencer. At the same time, Geller couldn’t help displaying some sympathy for Breivik’s actions against the young multiculturalists. “Breivik,” she wrote, “was targeting the future leaders of the party responsible for flooding Norway with Muslims.”
Despite Geller’s willingness to publish outright lies (such as her baseless theories about President Barack Obama) and align herself with European racists and fascists, she likes to present herself as the voice of reason, unfairly tarred as an extremist. In an October 2011 appearance, she told an audience that she is only “painted as a racist, Islamophobic, anti-Muslim bigot” because her enemies want to silence her. “You’re demonized, you’re marginalized, and you’re rated radioactive,” she complained.
In January 2012, Geller formed Stop the Islamization of Nations (SION), a new international organization, with herself as executive director. SION joins SIOA with the European anti-Muslim group that inspired it, Anders Gravers’ Denmark-based Stop the Islamization of Europe (SIOE). The new organization intends to create a “common American/European coalition of free people” to oppose the advance of Islamic law.” It will also publicize the names of politicians, activists and others who promote the alleged Islamic agenda in the West.
Geller, however, found herself meeting resistance not just from the supposed “leftist, Islamic alliance” and the “complicit and dangerous” media she detests. In February 2012, she had to fight to get a spot at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., presumably because she had become an embarrassment. Infuriated and defiant, she said that CPAC’s “puppet-master” leaders had “abandoned conservative principles,” while ignoring the threat posed by Islamic extremism. And in June, the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, bowing to a growing chorus of criticism, canceled a planned lecture by Geller just hours before it was to be delivered. Geller reacted to this new slight by making references to the Holocaust: “Jewish leadership is on the trains and thinks we will go quietly.”