When life handed the anti-Islamic bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer a lemon, they made it into lemonade.
Of course, it wasn’t the first or the last time that extremist ideologues found themselves in the awkward position of having to disavow a follower who took their hateful prescriptions more seriously than they did themselves. But when the world learned that Norway’s mass murderer Anders Breivik had repeatedly referenced their counter-jihadist writings in his anti-Islamic manifesto “A European Declaration of Independence,” they didn’t apologize. In fact, they cashed in on the dubious honor, clamoring to whatever media outlet that would have them that they were Breivik’s real victims.
Breivik’s “citations of our work,” they added last week in a column in the conservative Internet publication American Thinker, “have led to an international campaign to blame us for the massacre. The New York Times, NBC, the BBC, CNN, the Washington Post, many European publications, and a host of others have claimed that we are responsible for creating a climate of ‘hate’ in which a Breivik was inevitable. This is not only false, but such charges against us challenge fundamental principles of the freedom of speech.”
Funny they should mention freedom of speech. No one has taken down Spencer and Geller’s blogs or pulled their books off the market; they haven’t been indicted or served with papers in a civil suit. But their sense of grievance seems to know no bounds. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Pam Geller has a new book to sell—and she can use all the attention she can get. And now, a new publicity stunt from the pair certainly suggests that this is the case.
This week, Geller and Spencer’s group the American Freedom Defense Initiative—whose mission, as they describe it with signature understatement, is to act “against the treason being committed by national, state, and local government officials, the mainstream media, and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, the ever-encroaching and unconstitutional power of the federal government, and the rapidly moving attempts to impose socialism and Marxism upon the American people”—issued a press release to herald their new “Threats to Freedom Index.” The index is billed as a master list of groups whose “beliefs or practices … attack or malign American Constitutional freedoms and/or lawful initiatives for American self-defense. … Threat to Freedom group activities can include misrepresentation of anti-terror and other law enforcement initiatives, attempts to restrict the freedom of speech regarding Islamic jihad or other threats to freedom, defamation of freedom fighters, disinformation campaigns in the mainstream media regarding attempts by the U.S. and Israel to defend themselves, and more.”
The preliminary Threats to Freedom Index lists twenty groups, including Al-Awda; Code Pink; the Cordoba Initiative; the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); Friends of Sabeel-North America (FOSNA); If Americans Knew (IAK); International ANSWER; the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT); the International Solidarity Movement; the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA); the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); the Muslim American Society (MAS); the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); the Muslim Students Association (MSA); the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT); the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC); the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding; the Socialist Workers Party; the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC); and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
It’s interesting to note that none of these groups have made any effort to limit Americans’ free exercise of religion or to curtail their speech, although the SPLC does list another Geller and Spencer group, Stop Islamization of America, as a hate group. That’s a job that the AFDI apparently reserves for itself—campaigning against mosques, lobbying for “anti-Shariah” laws, defaming Islamic activists, equating Islam in general with Islamic supremacism, and accusing groups that challenge and expose their efforts of un-Americanism, treason, and worse.
Accusing one’s adversaries of one’s own sins is an old trick; it’s not surprising that a group that holds the First Amendment in such open contempt would style itself as its passionate defender. It’s what George Orwell called Doublespeak—“to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it.” Or maybe it’s just good old-fashioned hypocrisy.