On Sunday in Garland, Texas, two gunmen opened fire and wounded a security guard at an event where an award had been given for the best drawing of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. Fortunately, the guard escaped with non-life threatening injuries, and the two shooters were killed by police before they could do any more damage. It appears one of the suspects was sympathetic to ISIS, which had been calling for attacks on the event organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, headed by Pamela Geller, who promoted those notorious anti-Islam ads on New York public transportation.
Whatever you think of Geller or cartoons of Muhammad, this is obviously a time to condemn the attack, defend the right to free speech, and affirm that nothing that Geller and the AFDI have done can in any way excuse such a violent act.
Or, if you’re someone who simply doesn’t get it, this is a time to condemn Geller and other critics of Islam.
By now the pattern has become all too familiar: Violence is perpetrated by Islamic extremists against those who dared to draw Muhammad. Then, people who can’t distinguish between criticizing or lampooning Islam and the wholesale bashing of Muslims on a personal level wonder if the cartoonists should’ve drawn Muhammad in the first place.
As we’re about to see (again), some people have really lost their moorings on this issue. Take for example, Dean Obeidallah, who actually claimed that awarding a prize to someone who draws “despicable cartoons of Muhammad… is akin to offering a prize for people to draw the most anti-Semitic or racist images imaginable.”
No, it’s not. Drawing Muhammad is absolutely not akin to anything like that. Here again we see the crippling inability of a liberal to tell the difference between disrespecting a single historical figure and engaging in bigotry against an entire group of people. Skewering Muhammad is not tantamount to engaging in prejudice against all who hold him dear. They may not like it, but it’s not an attack on them as people.
Or take CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, who on Monday morning pressed Geller about her anti-Islam views, and also the keynote speaker at her event — controversial Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders. Camerota began the interview by saying, “Why hold this event and possibly invite a threat given what we saw in Paris in January?” And if that’s not disturbing enough, here’s what she said to Geller:
What your critics say about this is that you weren’t just going after, say, Al Qaeda, or ISIS, or extremism, but even just Islam. I mean, let me read a portion, an excerpt from your keynote speaker, Geert Wilders, who said this to the crowd before the attack broke out. He said,
“Our Judeo-Christian is far superior to the Islamic one. I can give you a million reasons. But here is an important one. We’ve got humor and they don’t. Islam does not allow free speech, because free speech shows how evil and wrong Islam is. And Islam does not allow humor, because humor shows how ridiculous and foolish it is.”
Now of course, that’s not about extremism. He’s talking about a religion of which there are three million Muslims even here in the United States.
As an exasperated Geller pointed out, “First of all, he’s entitled to his opinion. End of story. So what?”
And of course, the usual defend-Islam-at-all-costs crowd on twitter weighed in, taking aim not at the gunmen, but Geller:
We’ve been down this road before. When 12 people were murdered at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in January, far too many people thought there was a debate to be had about whether it was appropriate for the magazine to publish cartoons of Muhammad. But a big reason why we keep seeing violent reactions to depictions of Muhammad is the plain fact that the mainstream media has capitulated to theocracy by not showing such cartoons. And so, Islamists fully expect us, in the West, to comply with their prohibition on drawings of the “prophet.” But that dog won’t hunt. To quote Sam Harris after the Charlie Hebdo killings, “People have been murdered over cartoons. End of moral analysis.”
Thankfully, the extremists didn’t kill anyone this time. Unfortunately, there’s always next time.