Conservatives Can’t Understand Why Pamela Geller Fails to Win Same Sympathy as Charlie Hebdo

Conservatives are lauding Pamela Geller as a beacon of free speech. (Photo: Del-Uks / Flickr)

Conservatives are lauding Pamela Geller as a beacon of free speech. (Photo: Del-Uks / Flickr)

On May 3, as you’ve no doubt heard, conservative commentator Pamela Geller’s AFDI Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas was disrupted by two gunmen, subsequently shot dead, supposedly acting on behalf of aggrieved Muslims. The Islamic State at first tried to take responsibility for the event, but their provenance was scarce. One of its representatives then apparently posted a threat to her and boasted of Islamic State cells across the United States just waiting to be activated. For her part, Ms. Geller posted:

This threat illustrates the savagery and barbarism of the Islamic State. They want me dead for violating Sharia blasphemy laws. What remains to be seen is whether the free world will finally wake up and stand for the freedom of speech, or instead kowtow to this evil and continue to denounce me. What’s really frightening and astonishing about this threat is that the media in denouncing me is essentially allying with and even cheering on the Islamic State. I expected this from jihadists. I never expected it from my fellow Americans in the mainstream media.

At Politico magazine, Rich Lowry, National Review editor Rich Lowry expressed frustration he shared with many conservatives that Ms. Geller was more the subject of media attack than were the two gunmen. She garnered none of the sympathy that the staff of Charlie Hebdo did. Lowry wrote:

The Washington Post ran an article on Geller headlined, “Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas.”

News that the Post has yet to break about other terrorist targets: “Malala Yousafzai refuses to admit fault for seeking an education”; “Coptic Christians won’t concede error for worshiping wrong God”; “Unrepentant Shiites continue to disagree with Sunnis.”

Yes, these are more sympathetic cases, but it is no more legitimate to shoot someone for drawing Muhammad, than it is to shoot a girl for going to school, or a Copt or a Shia for his or her faith. Expecting apologies from these victims would be almost as perverse as expecting one from Pamela Geller.

Respectable opinion can’t bear the idea that she has become a symbol of free speech, which once upon a time was — and still is, when convenient — one of the highest values of the media and the left.

Of course, Charlie Hebdo was anti-extremist Islamism (political Islam). Ms. Geller and her ilk are simply anti-Islam. That’s no small distinction.