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Not a single Muslim is quoted in ‘NYT’ profile of Geller

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The coverage of the shootings in Texas has belatedly started to make an issue of Pamela Geller’s extremism. Last night she was derided on MSNBC as a provocateur who is seeking a violent response. Today’s New York Times has a long piece about Geller that unfortunately sets her up as a bold truthteller at the start: “Though hailed by her supporters as a patriot and condemned by her critics as a bigot, Ms. Geller, everyone seems to agree, has never had trouble speaking her mind.” But the profile at least does review some of Geller’s highlights of racism.

Yet the piece, by Alan Feuer, is signally lacking in one respect; there are no Muslims in it.

Shouldn’t he have talked to the people who are being hated and ask for their opinion? He says Geller played a role in winning the resignation of Debbie Almontaser from the Kahlil Gibran Academy in Brooklyn. OK; here’s a woman who was victimized by Geller. Shouldn’t the Times call her and ask her about that? She’s a wonderful, articulate person, and not hard to find in New York.

He also reports that Geller has advocated for the removal of the Dome of the Rock from the Temple Mount. Shouldn’t he ask what Muslims have to say about that idea? How does that feel to them? Again, not a single Muslim person is asked about the impact of these insults.

From the simple standpoint of Journalism 101, it’s obvious why you should consult Muslims. If you’re writing a profile of a racist, you should gather the comments from the victims of the racism.

But there’s another reason why the views of some Muslims should be sought.  We non-Muslims are raised in different cultural traditions, with different taboos and red lines.  Therefore we understandably have a problem fully grasping the feelings of outrage and pain that Muslims feel, for instance, at cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.  We need to hear more Muslim voices. The implication in the Western press is often that Muslims’ sensitivities are immature, that Islam needs a Reformation, they should catch up to us in tolerance. That view is woefully simplistic, but even if it had merit, we still need to find out what people actually feel.

There is, of course, no excuse for violently attacking the Geller gathering. Free speech is sacrosanct. But let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s say that a group of neo-Nazis hosted a conference in Brooklyn at which an exhibit of Nazi cartoons from the Hitler era was on display. Isn’t it possible  — possible — that a couple of former Jewish Defense League extremists would attack the gathering with weapons? Or let’s say a group of militant atheists hosted a conference in Norman, Oklahoma, at which Bibles were burnt and crucifixes desecrated. Isn’t it possible — possible — that a couple of far right gun nuts would open fire on the gathering?

I’m just saying, maybe these are the kind of visceral feelings that Jews and Christians can relate to that Muslims seem to experience at Pamela Geller’s racism. The Times made not even a minimal effort to convey as much.

James North
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37 Responses

  1. marc b.
    marc b.
    May 5, 2015, 12:54 pm

    everyone seems to agree, [Geller] has never had trouble speaking her mind”

    the problem is the opposite. it seems she can’t stop ‘speaking her mind’, even when speaking her mind means provoking violence and supporting racism. thank you NYT for the mindless platitudes implying a commitment to honesty, when she is anything but honest.

    But let’s do a thought experiment.

    I’m guilty of this trap as well, but we don’t need ‘a thought experiment’. Christians and Jews have their own history of committing terrorism in this country.

  2. ckg
    May 5, 2015, 1:13 pm

    Compare that to this NYT article on Trevor Noah. Abe Foxman comments get three paragraphs, while Noah’s only response given is a tweet.

  3. JWalters
    May 5, 2015, 4:21 pm

    Is is not obvious that the Pam Geller contest was set up to create an ISIS attack on American soil? Who funded the $10,000 prize? And who funded Geller’s transit ad campaign in NYC, which was way more expensive?

    Is it not obvious this attack benefits the same people who fund the suppression of free speech about Israel? Is it not obvious that suppressing free speech about Israel and demonizing Islam are two sides of the same coin, done mainly by the same people?

    Is it not clear the choice of Texas as the venue for this incident is intelligently strategic? It has a large population of Christian bigots to be stirred up, and Ted Cruz, the Senator from Goldman Sachs to do the stirring.

    Is is not increasingly clear there is a mafia-like organization with vast financial resources manipulating America’s politicians and press?

  4. Kay24
    May 5, 2015, 4:59 pm

    It seems the LA Times article is more critical of this bigot, and it has statements from Muslims too. Imagine a woman with no academic credentials spewing utter BS about a subject she knows nothing about. Those who listen to her diatribe obviously do not care about that.

    “A onetime journalist, Geller worked for the Daily News in New York and served as associate publisher of the New York Observer before turning full time to what critics consider her campaign of Islamaphobia.

    She has no academic credentials as an expert in Islam or jihad. But through her blog, Atlas Shrugs, and her willingness to espouse harsh views of Islam, Geller has gained a following that includes John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who spoke via video link in support of her at the protest on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

    One of Geller’s biggest fans is Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch member of parliament best known for his criticism of Islam.

    “Pamela is an extraordinary woman. I only have a few heroes, but Pamela certainly is one of them,” Wilders said during a speech at the Garland, Texas, event Sunday.

    “Islam and freedom are totally incompatible,” Wilders added.

    Geller says she is not anti-Muslim, only anti-jihad and anti-sharia law.

    Critics, notably the Southern Poverty Law Center, say she is a hate-monger. The Alabama-based center describes her as “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead.”

    Heidi Beirich, intelligence project director at the center, said she expected Geller to try to harness sympathy by comparing her group to the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, which was attacked in January after publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

    But Beirich said there was no comparison. “Charlie Hebdo was an equal opportunity mocker,” Beirich said of the Paris magazine, which was to be honored in New York on Tuesday by the PEN American Center literary group. “All she does is bash Muslims. That’s it.”

    • just
      May 5, 2015, 5:06 pm

      Thanks so much for posting some sanity from the MSM, Kay24.

      Thanks for the article, James North. Sad to say, I’m not surprised at the NYT. They never disappoint, do they?

      • Kay24
        May 5, 2015, 5:23 pm

        Even Donald Trump has criticized her. That is funny.

        From Newsmax:

        “”I watched Pam prior, and it looks like she’s just taunting everybody,” said Trump. “What is she doing? Drawing Muhammad and it looks like she’s taunting people.”

        And while he called the violence “disgusting,” Trump said he wonders “what are they doing drawing Muhammad? Isn’t there something else they can draw? They can’t do something else? They have to be in the middle of Texas and on Muhammad?”

        He said he has to question why Geller would organize such an event.

        “You know, I’m one that believes in free speech, probably more than she does,” said Trump. “What’s the purpose of this? She’s taunting them…I don’t know, maybe she likes risk. What the hell is she doing?”

    • May 6, 2015, 7:59 am

      “Charlie Hebdo was an equal opportunity mocker,” Beirich said of the Paris magazine”


      80-year-old Maurice Sinet, political cartoonist with Charlie Hebdo for 20 years, was fired in 2009 for his cartoons mocking the relationship of former French President Sarkozy’s son with a wealthy Jewish woman.

      Maurice Sinet, known to the world as Siné, faced charges of “inciting racial hatred” for a column he wrote in July 2009. “L’affaire Sine,” followed the engagement of Jean Sarkozy to Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, the Jewish heiress of a major consumer electronics company, the Darty Group. Commenting on rumours that Jean intended to convert from Catholicism to Judaism (Jessica’s religion) for social success, Siné quipped, “He’ll go a long way in life, that little lad.”

      It didn’t take long for Claude Askolovitch, a high-profile political journalist, to accuse Siné of anti-Semitism. Charlie Hebdo‘s editor, Philippe Val, who re-published Jyllands-Posten’s controversial cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in the name of ‘freedom of press’ in 2006, agreed that the piece was offensive and asked Siné to apologize. Siné refused, saying, “I’d rather cut my balls off.” He was fired and taken to court by the Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme (LICRA), an organization which works to promote racial tolerance.

      • just
        May 6, 2015, 8:12 am

        Thanks for that important piece of information, Giles.

        I had no knowledge of it before you shared it. More of the old double standard…

  5. Keith
    May 5, 2015, 5:06 pm

    JAMES NORTH- “Yet the piece, by Alan Feuer, is signally lacking in one respect; there are no Muslims in it.”

    Why would you expect to find balance in media propaganda? Geller is but an extreme example of the “clash of civilizations” meme being pushed by our doctrinal system. If one were to objectively look at the past five hundred years, it would be fairly obvious that the “Christian” nations of Europe have far and away been the most violent and bloody. The media, however, isn’t interested in that. Ever since WWII, the US has waged non-stop war against the entire Third World in order to achieve strategic objectives, a reality the media misrepresents in order to fulfill its propaganda function. The media is an integral part of empire and is a major part of the problem. Why continue with the pretense that this example of yours represents some sort of deviation from the norm?

  6. just
    May 5, 2015, 5:55 pm

    Another dangerous Islamophobic idiot:

    “Senator Lindsey Graham: Everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the Mideast is bad news

    Speaking at an AIPAC dinner, the likely Republican presidential candidate reiterated threat to cut UN funding if Security Council acts against Israel.

    “Everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the Middle East is bad news,” said U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina at an AIPAC dinner in Boston on Monday. “Al-Qaida, Al-Nusra, Al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula,” said the senator, who may be running for president.

    Graham, who was the keynote speaker at the AIPAC New England Leadership Dinner in Boston, also told the approximately 1,000 pro-Israel attendees, “You will see me in New Hampshire,” former Haaretz investigative journalist Uri Blau has reported on his blog.

    The problem – linguistically – with Graham’s comment is that “Al” is the definite article in Arabic (i.e. equivalent to English’s “the”), and usually appears before most Arabic proper nouns, especially place and personal names.

    As for relations between the U.S., Israel, and Palestine, Graham said: “If the Palestinians will sue one Israeli soldier who risked his life securing Israel, the US will cut all aid to Palestine.” Reiterating a pledge he made to AIPAC a few months ago, he also threatened to cut off U.S funding to the UN if the UN Security Council pushes through action on behalf of the Palestinians. “I’m gonna put the United Nations on notice,” Graham, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee said in March, adding that he would go after its funding if the organization “marginalized” Israel. “All the money that goes in to support the State Department comes through my committee.”

    Attending the dinner were Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren…”

    Gee thanks, Elizabeth. Ugh.

    • Kay24
      May 5, 2015, 6:10 pm

      Just, they know that to get ahead in their political careers and win elections, they MUST show utmost love and devotion to Israel. AIPAC is the power to make it happen for them.

      If you look at the campaign contributions to these spineless politicians, you will find Graham one of the top recipients. Warren is shameless isn’t she? She may sound different in her policies, but the bottom line is, she too must worship the zio gods of Israel.

      • just
        May 5, 2015, 6:12 pm

        Agreed, Kay24. But it makes me sick. Just let one Dem break away from the trough and there’d be change in P/I, hope for the region and for the US.

        Why do they also have to be so blatantly, criminally, and terminally stupid, too?

      • Kay24
        May 5, 2015, 7:06 pm

        “Why do they also have to be so blatantly, criminally, and terminally stupid, too? ”

        Because they are. If they were smart they would reject the campaign contributions from a rogue state and be outraged at the control it has over this country. They would behave like indignant Americans who will not allow their nation to be on it’s knees to a parasitic state, that has brought nothing but trouble for us.

        The few congress people who stuck to their principles and self respect, did not last. Sad.

    • RoHa
      May 5, 2015, 8:02 pm

      “The problem – linguistically – with Graham’s comment is that “Al” is the definite article in Arabic (i.e. equivalent to English’s “the”), and usually appears before most Arabic proper nouns, especially place and personal names.”

      You don’t expect a Presidential candidate to actually know stuff, do you? Surely you aren’t that naive.

      He doesn’t even know English, let alone Arabic.

      “If the Palestinians will sue one Israeli soldier who risked his life securing Israel, the US will cut all aid to Palestine.”

      should be

      “If the Palestinians sue one Israeli soldier who risked his life securing Israel, the US will cut all aid to Palestine.”

      • Citizen
        May 5, 2015, 10:16 pm

        Seems he meant not “will” but “ever”–just another cracker whore for Israel

      • just
        May 6, 2015, 7:53 am

        Excellent, RoHa!

    • eljay
      May 5, 2015, 8:34 pm

      “Everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the Middle East is bad news,” said U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham …

      Al Pacino had better stay out of the Middle East lest he be accused of being bad news. Hoo-ah!!

      • just
        May 5, 2015, 8:48 pm


    • oldgeezer
      May 5, 2015, 9:01 pm


      If fairness they do say bad news sells.

    • CigarGod
      May 6, 2015, 9:32 am

      I’m still waiting for The Nobles to become sufficiently outraged, that they will reject the bribery and coercion…and join William Wallace in the charge.
      Doesn’t seem conditions are right yet. But, time might be right to adopt the tactics of the other side.

  7. Donald
    May 5, 2015, 6:35 pm

    I think that for the NYT, Islamophobia is a respectable position, not something they explicitly defend, but part of the mainstream. They would probably deny this, but I somehow doubt an open anti-Semite would get this polite treatment.

    • pabelmont
      May 6, 2015, 8:13 am

      Be interesting to see someone in USA, say Texas, advertise (or stage a cartoon contest regarding) a far-right rabbinical statement (as some of Israel’s military rabbis seem to have made) saying that it’s OK to kill non-Jews in Israel’s occupation (perpetual “war”) against Palestinians. You know, quoting this (extreme) rabbinical position as if it were an across-the-board position of Jews generally.

  8. just
    May 5, 2015, 9:17 pm

    There’s an interesting, more rounded piece up @ The Guardian:

    “Texas attack: Garland Muslims caught between two ‘outsider’ groups

    In shooting’s aftermath, local Muslims are forced into unsettling yet familiar position of defending their religion while condemning attack they had no part in

    Pamela Geller is not from Garland, Texas.

    Neither is Geert Wilders, nor the two gunmen who showed up at the Curtis Culwell Center on Sunday night with intent to hurt – or worse. A sizeable portion of the attendees at the “draw the prophet” contest had also come in from out of town. …

    …Residents of this Dallas suburb are hurt and angry that outsiders have been allowed to come in and leave an indelible and distressing mark on their city.

    “I think the most disturbing thing is that both the organizers of the event and the perpetrators of the crime are outsiders,” Alia Salem, the executive director of the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the Guardian.

    “Both entities approached Dallas, Texas, with hatred in their hearts,” she said, of the AFDI and the perpetrators of the brazen attack, that had shaken her community “and brought turmoil and fear into our midst”.

    Garland’s mayor also rejected associations between his city and the event itself.

    “This [event] does not involve Garland,” Mayor Douglas Athas said on Monday. “Garland was not participating in this as a city in any way.”

    This was a sentiment echoed by several other residents and business owners in the area, who felt let down by the officials who allowed this event to take place. …

    …That local Muslims felt compelled to publicly condemn an attack which had nothing to do with them is symptomatic of public life for many US Muslims since 9/11. Several times throughout the press conference, the three leaders reiterated that the majority of the world’s Muslims were peaceful, and that extremists did not speak in their names.

    Attendees of Geller’s event did not seem to agree. In several interviews conducted with Texans who had attended the inflammatory event, phrases such as “Islam is the devil” and “Muslims do not belong in Texas” were bandied about with ease.

    Though Muslims have been in Garland and the north Texas region for decades and, according to community leaders, have enjoyed largely positive relationships with their neighbors, the visibility of Muslims in public spaces has provoked a pattern of aggressive behavior in recent history, an increase that Salem links back to the election of Barack Obama, after which many rightwing conspiracy theories emerged claiming that the new president was secretly Muslim. …

    …“Of course the violence is unacceptable and outrageous, but that doesn’t excuse Pamela Geller,” Beirich said. “She’s still responsible for the hate speech she’s propagated.”

    This was a sentiment echoed by both Muslim community leaders and local residents.

    “The depiction of the prophet in the worst of ways is asking for these crazies,” Hamideh said. “Under our laws, incitement is a crime.”

    “Free speech is a cover to hide under,” said Sinquefield, a Democrat in a very conservative state. “This has absolutely nothing to do with free speech – and this has everything to do with hate.”

    Geller is steadfast in her claims that her event was simply a celebration of free speech. On her blog soon after the attack, she declared that “this is a war”.

    The divide over whether this event was inciting hatred or was just a defense of free speech is fraught. What some saw as an opportunity to assert their constitutional freedoms, others took as an affront. But the dilemma raised by Sunday’s violence touches on the fundamental question of Muslim American life: what place will the US let itself carve out for Muslim Americans?

    According to one attendee of Geller’s event, a Texan who would not give his last name, the answer is none.

    “Islam itself doesn’t belong in this country,” he said. “Sharia law counteracts with the constitution of the United States. We have the right to practice the religion in this country as long as it doesn’t do harm to yourself or others – and Islam does.”

    John, who had a “Sharia-free zone” bumper sticker on his pickup truck, described the attendees as a “very constitutionalist, very Christian crowd”. His attendance was meant to be read as a defense of constitutional rights, he said.

    Jim Harman, a 46-year-old Dallas resident and business owner, said he had attended the event the previous night to support Geller, the Dutch far-right populist politician Geert Wilders and “those who are on the frontlines giving clarity to the situation” – that is, those who are declaring that Islam and civil society are fundamentally incompatible.

    “This isn’t about some cartoons,” Harman said. “This is about showing the contrast between good and evil” and to counter the “slow bleed of encouragement” that the government gives to “radical” groups like CAIR.

    Whatever their feelings, local Muslims had but one reaction to the event itself: ignore it. Not one of the 100,000 local Muslims had come out to protest against Geller’s event, in accordance with guidance given by Muslim leaders.

    “We just didn’t want to give her the time of day,” Hamideh said. “She wasn’t worth our breath.””

    • Kay24
      May 5, 2015, 9:33 pm

      That is an interesting perspective to the Garland situation. It also focuses on the situation the Muslims generally have to face, and I mean the majority of Muslims. They have to constantly apologize for these horrible incidents, that they themselves are disgusted by.
      The mere fact that NOT ONE Muslim protested Gellers hate/provocative event shows, they were not bothered by the Muslim hater. They were right this reptile is not worth anyone’s breath. It is also amusing to hear people who are totally ignorant about Islam, speak of Sharia law, simply echoing what their bigot leaders say, and not knowing what it really means.

  9. pabelmont
    May 6, 2015, 6:45 am

    As a result of Geller’s horrible assault on Muslims by Transit Ads, New York’s MTA has now banned all political advertising:

    This bans Geller but also bans pro-Palestine ads (to say nothing of all other political advertising).

    From reading the present post, I imagine that NYT did not mention the NYC ban triggered by Geller in the story about Texas.

    MW should.

  10. mariapalestina
    May 6, 2015, 8:33 am

    Neither wasn’t mentioned that Geller is banned from entering the UK

  11. mariapalestina
    May 6, 2015, 8:37 am

    Siri got it wrong. Sorry about that.

    Should have read “Neither was it mentioned that Geller is banned from entering the U.K.

  12. ckg
    May 6, 2015, 9:53 am

    Imagine if Pam Geller were appointed U.S. Attorney General. Crazy? Well, something just as crazy may happen in Israel today.

  13. edwardm
    May 6, 2015, 4:32 pm

    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.”

    • traintosiberia
      May 6, 2015, 9:22 pm

      Well ! Well! Now it makes all some sense. Rabbi warns of the possibility of the future threat from the non Jewish children . He sanctions killing if the threat were real ( now you have to the read the intention of the infant and the babies. And about the intention,one can seek guidance from Sam Harris in his communique between Chmosky and him ) . Geller tells that Brevik knew the future of these children ,what they would turn out to be . He decided to kill them . Rabbi ,you won . Did FBI or whatever they call it over there intercept any communication between the three? Any body language or posture or movement of eyebrows on the TV as signal? There are the real possibilities . That’s why they had closed door military tribunal / court to try the terrorist in case the terror suspect sent some signals while it was being broadcast over the TV to the sleeper cells in the West.

  14. traintosiberia
    May 6, 2015, 9:12 pm

    Did NYT mention ” The Koran should be banned as a “fascist book” alongside Mein Kampf because it urges Muslims to kill non-believers, says Dutch populist MP Geert Wilders.” ?

    Geert Wilders were defending free speech in Texas along with his two other triplet – Spencer and Geller .

  15. watzal
    May 7, 2015, 4:21 am

    I’m not surprised about the NYT’s anti-Muslim attitude. Pamela Geller is the America’s new islamophobic “Acid Queen”.

    Geller hangs out with the most right-wing bedfellows. That major U. S. networks give her a forum doesn’t speak for them.

    Dr. Ludwig Watzal

    • Citizen
      May 8, 2015, 4:46 am

      @ watzal
      Geller’s been batting heads with BDS folks, battling municipal transit wall billboards; her state d objective in holding the cartoon contest was to counter Muslim event held last January in same place–maybe her tactic had a higher strategy this time around: She hoped to gain a higher media profile on television news and in major press, reach the wider mass quickly–inspired by the Paris killing of the cartoonist over there? She succeeded especially well. On MSNBC and CNN there’s been some negative chat about her, mostly as a provacator, but most of that has been drowned in shrieking about her right of free speech, which is something all Americans react to as a cherished value. I haven’t seen anybody on tv news/infotainment explain anything about her organization at all in any detail, although some have at least named it; and none have mentioned her other web site. If they did it would not only make it clear to the audience that she isn’t really a free speech advocate but a slammer of anything Muslim. Hell, said audience of average folks might even start looking at the linkage between zealous Zionism and creeping Islamophobia, and that might even lead average Americans to wonder if Israel is such a wonderful US asset. Or even start having some sympathy for the Palestinian people. Her strategy might in this way–backfire?

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