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Eleven years ago, Pamela Geller declared war on savages who were trying to take over the world. This November, she admits she lost.
It earned Geller her second Worst Person in the World award. Olbermann said Geller's rhetoric helped stoke a paranoia that resulted in, among other things, a national spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes and a mosque firebombing in Jacksonville.
That November, she traveled to Sherman Oaks, California, to receive the Annie Taylor Award for Courage from the ultra-conservative, anti-Muslim David Horowitz Freedom Center. Spencer himself presented her with the award. "You have to understand that we're in a war," Geller said in her acceptance speech. "We are at war now. It's not coming. It's not around the corner. We're at war now. The Ground Zero Mosque is the second wave of the 9/11 attack.
"We will prevail," she promised the crowd. "We will prevail."
Eight months later, Anders Behring Breivik ignited a bomb in Oslo, Norway. He killed eight people. A few hours later, dressed as a police officer, he traveled to a children's summer camp. He pulled out a gun and slaughtered 69 teenagers.
Breivik wrote a manifesto in which he stated the purpose of the killings: to prevent a Muslim takeover. He quoted from Geller's Atlas Shrugs. He also cited Spencer, her partner, dozens of times by name.
"O bama won," Geller's blog read on November 6. "And America, land of the free, home of the brave, died tonight."
The president had just won re-election in a landslide. The Tea Party, doomed by the rise of flawed presidential candidates such as Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Michele Bachmann, and "Rapey Republican" congressional candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, was on life support. Park51 was still on schedule to open steps away from Ground Zero.
News outlets distanced themselves from Geller. Even Fox News, which had supported her views for years, recently backed away. In a segment on Happening Now, anchor Jenna Lee said Geller's transit ads used "controversial language so inflammatory, we're not going to show it to you."
"You don't think you're inciting hatred?" I ask her.
"No," she answers quickly.
I'm torn, because as I sit across from Geller, it's hard to compare her to the savages she wars against. Instead of guns and missiles, she uses her charm, her blog, even her beauty. But to use one's weapons effectively, as a band of jihadists did 11 years ago, you must first dehumanize the foe, rationalize that their lives are somehow worth less, because innocents are sure to get caught in the crossfire.
Geller believes her war is all but lost, but she seems anything but defeated. She's still beloved among various Tea Party charters; though she has no plans to run for office, just last week, she traveled to Florida to speak.
War is lucrative, and Geller is seeing the dividends. Last year, she published a second book, Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance. She gets more than 1 million unique visitors to Atlas Shrugs every month, which attracts more advertising, which generates more revenue. It's money she'll use when the fighting reaches our shores.
"America's always been the one that came to the rescue. And what are you going to do when there's no one there to rescue you? So how's it going to play out? I can't tell you. But I can tell you that it's all gonna play out."
A week ago, the New York Post covered the Gaza conflict by showing a full front-page photo of young Hamas men on motorcycles dragging a suspected Israeli spy through the streets of Gaza City. "Savages!" the headline read.
Spencer, on Geller's sister blog, jihadwatch.org, posted about it.
"New York Post admits Pamela Geller is right," he wrote. "Palestinian jihadists are savages."