Great interview with Pam Gellar from Newsweek:
After organizing the contest for Prophet Muhammad cartoons in Garland, Texas, where two men opened fire, the conservative blogger has drawn scorn from both sides of the aisle and made her way to the top of an ISIS hit list. Geller is promising more controversial events like the one in Texas. While many are calling her an Islamophobic provocateur, Geller calls herself a freedom of speech champion.
Few would argue about your right to draw any cartoons you wish, but isn’t it just bad manners? Why insult a religion? Why not make your point in a way that doesn’t offend people?
The point was not to insult a religion. It was not I, but the jihadis, who made Muhammad cartoons the flashpoint for the defense of the freedom of speech. If they had announced that they were going to kill non-Muslims for not obeying any other element of Shariah law, we would have made our stand on that. They are trying to intimidate free people into submitting to Shariah blasphemy laws by killing over the cartoons, so it was over the cartoons that we had to make a stand.
All cultures have contributed in their own way to making their imprint on America. What, specifically, is wrong with the Islamization of America.
The problem with Islamization in America specifically involves the aspects of Shariah that conflict with principles of human rights and constitutional freedoms. I stand for the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, the equality of rights of all before the law, and individual rights. I oppose the elements of Shariah that deny the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, the equality of rights of women, non-Muslims, and gays, etc.
Do you attribute the violence in the Muslim community to an extremist faction within the religion? Or do you view this as deeper problem involving the core worldview inherent in Islam?
The Islamic jihadists refer to the texts and teachings of Islam—the Koran and the example of Muhammad—to justify their actions and make recruits among peaceful Muslims. Those Muslims who reject that understanding of Islam are not doing anything to combat it. There is, for example, not a single program in any mosque or Islamic school in the U.S. to teach young Muslims to reject the Islamic State’s understanding of Islam. With the Islamic State [ISIS] energetically recruiting young Muslims in the U.S., that is a significant omission.
Since you have been calling out Muslim extremists for violence and intolerance for years, what, if anything, surprised you about the violent reaction to the contest? Or was it expected?
I have been working in defense of freedom since 9/11. I always have security because I understand the threat. This art exhibit was no exception. I was aware that something could happen (something can always happen)—that’s why we spent tens of thousands of dollars on security. People say I was hoping for an attack or trying to provoke one—that’s a repulsive libel. I was standing for the freedom of speech against violent intimidation. In doing so, I knew the risks and took them into account, and our security measures worked: The jihadis were prevented from entering the event and committing mass murder.
Does anyone think that these two jihadists would have lived quiet lives as peaceable and loyal Americans if we hadn’t held the contest? They would have waged jihad elsewhere, on a less-protected target, and killed more people. The jihadists were the end of the line. By drawing them out, we exposed their network. And because we secured the perimeter, we were able to expose the network without getting anyone killed. The FBI can now go after the sources. They are gleaning intel from their computers as we speak. We smoked out a terror structure. This was a watershed.
ISIS has made a clear terrorist threat against your life. What kind of support, or protection, have you received from the federal government? What kind of contact have you had? Are your children protected?
I have no comment on security issues, for obvious reasons.
Could you elaborate on the nature of the death threats you have received from ISIS? Were there others that the public doesn’t know about? If possible, please go into depth and be specific.
I have received many death threats over the years. Some have been made public, and some haven’t. The Islamic State threat is a matter of particular concern because they have made clear their intention to strike in the U.S. and have shown that many Muslims in the U.S. are anxious to heed their call.
If ISIS manages to make good on the threat against your life, will it have been worth it?
Is freedom worth fighting for, worth dying for? I love life, it’s why I do what I do. I do not want to die. But I am not willing to live as a slave. I have fought for freedom for well over a decade now and will continue to do so to my dying breath, with no regrets. There is no other option. Silence is far scarier.
What is next for Pamela Geller? Specifically, do you foresee yourself engaging in future contests or activities to draw cartoons of the prophet?
We have been holding events like this for years. I think that more events like the one in Garland have to be staged, or the jihadis will get the message (again) that terrorism works, violent intimidation works, threats work.
If we surrender on that point and stop drawing Muhammad, we’ve established a precedent of surrendering to violent Shariah enforcement, and once established, we will be made to reinforce it again and again.
Everyone seems so eager to surrender. I never will.