New York City’s undisputed bigot queen, Pamela Geller, took to the subways again recently, releasing another set of anti-Muslim ads. Nothing new here, really, since her last set garnered national attention and, well, Geller loves national attention. (And to be fair to Geller, with whom we sat down a couple months ago, who doesn’t?)
There are a couple differences, of course. These ads are a little bit more inflammatory and bigoted than her previous ads, which read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” When I spoke to her in November, she was able to look at me with a straight face and say that she wasn’t anti-Muslim, that she actually loved Muslims, and that it was jihad she was trying to defeat. It was shaky ground, albeit ground I believed she honestly thought she could stand on, even though the Souther Poverty Law Center has named three Geller-led groups (including the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which helped fund the ad campaigns) as anti-Muslim hate groups.
These ads, however, are a little harder to defend. Next to a graphic of the Twin Towers burning, it reads, “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. (Quran 3:151).” The jihad/Muslim disconnect she pled kind of goes out the window here, since she quoted Islam’s holy book, instead of attacking jihadi. But she’s playing on New Yorkers’ 9/11 grief, as well as the obvious xenophobia and distrust of Muslims that a segment of Americans harnesses. If a couple of Muslims here and there get harassed along the way, or killed, or another Anders Breivik kills scores of children just after writing about Geller and her blog, atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com, in his manifesto, well, the show will go on.
What is novel, though, is how some New Yorkers are attempting to fight back against Geller and her ad campaign. Some of her ads were vandalized, but more recently, a grassroots organization was created solely to counter Geller using more legal means. The group’s called Talk Back to Hate, and its goal is to raise money to run ads opposite Geller’s. The group was started on indiegogo.com, a crowd-funding site not unlike Kickstarter. So far, over 50 people have contributed, and they’ve raised $1,800 dollars of their $7,500 goal.
It’ll be interesting to see what comes of the counter-campaign in the next month and, we suppose, what Geller is up to next. She was just a speaking guest at a Maryland Conservative Conference, which basically proves one of her theses, which is that as long as there are Muslims, there will always be old, scared people who will spend time and money to go see a pretty lady bash them.