“I think that — listen, she has the right to do what she did. Just because you have the right to do it doesn’t mean you should do it,” said [Rep. Peter] King noting some of America’s strongest allies were Muslim.

“It’s needlessly provocative,” added King, saying he thought the event was “insulting someone’s religion.”

“For instance, let’s assume that all religions have, that there are good people of all religions and they have strong beliefs. I was offended as a Catholic when they had the crucifix in the jar of urine, when you had dung on the portrait of the blessed Virgin Mary. Obviously we don’t resort to violence, but to me that’s insulting someone’s religion.”

The New Yorker added he thought the event was “just inviting trouble” and was “putting people’s lives at risk for no good reason.”

***

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.

If Geller were a groundbreaking pornographer like the loathsome Larry Flynt, someone would already be planning a celebratory biopic of her life. If she were a gadfly sticking it to a major Western religion rather than to Islam, she might be considered more socially acceptable…

To say the reaction to Garland has been confused is charitable. On “Hardball,” NBC terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann descended into a morass of contradictory clichés when discussing Garland. He said Geller and her ilk are “trying to provoke a response from the Muslim community, and unfortunately, this was predictable.”

Then he maintained that the ensuing inevitable attack from the sorely provoked Muslim community had “nothing to do with Islam.”

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Asked what would have happened had the two deceased gunmen been successful in their attempt to kill people at Geller’s event, Carlson said that jihadists “already won because they have successfully intimidated many of the elites in this country.” His example: “The New York Times editorialized on behalf of Andres Serrano to do the crucifix in urine; they editorialized on behalf of The Book of Mormon, even though it offended religious groups; they editorialized against Pamela Geller. What’s the difference? Well, the Mormons and the evangelicals weren’t threatening to murder those artists.”

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[T]he fury against Pamela Geller is motivated mostly by fear — by the understanding that there are indeed many, many Muslims who believe that blasphemy should be punished with death, and who put that belief into practice. It’s motivated by the fear that our alliances with even “friendly” Muslim states and “allied” Muslim militias are so fragile that something so insignificant as a cartoon would drive them either to neutrality or straight into the arms of ISIS.

That’s why even the military brass will do something so unusual as call a fringe pastor of a tiny little church to beg him not to post a YouTube video. That’s why the president of the United States — ostensibly the most powerful man in the world — will personally appeal to that same pastor not to burn a Koran. They know that hundreds of millions of Muslims are not “moderate” by any reasonable definition of that word, and they will, in fact, allow themselves to be provoked by even the most insignificant and small-scale act of religious satire or defiance. After all, there are Muslim communities that will gladly burn Christians alive to punish even rumored blasphemy…

Geller’s critics should spare us all the high-minded rhetoric about tolerance and liberty and “democratic values.” In a continent-sized nation of more than 300 million souls, “offensive” speech is always happening. Geller’s speech is different not because it’s uniquely insensitive or even uniquely “hateful.” Her speech is different because it makes people afraid…

Islam has a serious problem. Silencing Pamela Geller isn’t the solution.

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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…

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.

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Let’s be clear: the only reason the Texas event was associated with violence is that there are radical Muslims who are willing to shoot people over cartoons. To shift any blame for violence to the conference organizers is to reward this violent action. If Christians responded to an art show that they found offensive with violence, the media would call for a national conversation on Christian fundamentalism. But when radical Muslims do it, the national conversation is on hate speech.

This is for two reasons. One reason is that people are afraid of becoming the next victims of radical Muslims. The other reason is that Muslim pressure groups have been effective at portraying adherents of the religion as a uniquely marginalized group. But this is not supported statistically…

If the takeaway from this incident — even among those who depend on free expression for their livelihood — is that people shouldn’t offend radical Muslims, than the radicals have succeeded in undermining American values by creating a chilling effect on free speech.

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When religious authority begins to be backed by compulsion, resistance to religious authority acquires a different character, too. When she defies the threat of violence, the former jerk can become a genuine martyr…

No question, there are provocateurs who quote and misquote Islamic texts, wrenched out of context and history, to incite hostility to broad communities of people. But these provocateurs mostly succeed only when events like those in Paris, Copenhagen, and Garland appear to confirm their lurid warnings…

We owe equality and respect to persons. Ideas and beliefs have to prove their worth. Pamela Geller, the organizer of the Garland, Texas, “Draw Muhammad” contest, attracts criticism because she so often pushes up to and over the line separating criticism of ideas from vilification of groups of people. She’s an uncomfortable person to defend. But that’s often true of the people who test the rights that define a free society…

When vigilantes try to enforce the tenets of a faith by violence, then it becomes a civic obligation to stand up to them. And if the people doing the standing up are not in every way nice people—if they express other views that are ugly and prejudiced by any standard—then the more shame on all the rest of us for leaving the job to them.

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Feldman’s premise is that the “provokers in Texas,” as he calls them, “almost certainly… wanted to get a reaction from Muslims.” Thus, Geller could be held “morally responsible for the foreseeable consequences of her provocation,” by which he means the armed attack. The implication here is staggering…

Applied in other circumstances, Feldman’s metric leads to untenable results. Was John Lewis responsible for the foreseeable consequences of the Selma to Montgomery march? Was Ayaan Hirsi Ali responsible for the murder of her filmmaking colleague Theo von Gogh? Was Salman Rushdie responsible for the murder of his Japanese translator? Indeed, were the cartoonists at the Charlie Hebdo office responsible for the related massacre at Hyper Cacher supermarket? Of course not. All of those people—some of whose aims were more noble than others’—defied the threat of violence at great personal cost. John Lewis is a civil-rights hero and Salman Rushdie a gifted novelist, while Pamela Geller is a religious bigot—but so what? The application of moral principles to extremist violence should not depend upon the acceptability of the victim’s views. 

Feldman attempts to draw a fine line between risking violence (which is apparently okay) and seeking it (which is morally blameworthy). He asserts that Geller falls into the latter category because “she paid for an armed security guard outside the event, suggesting she considered violence at least possible” and because “cartoons perceived as insulting the prophet have been met with violence” in the past. By that measure, we would also have to blame the victims at Charlie Hebdo, as well as those who were murdered the following month at a “blasphemy debate” in Copenhagen. After all, they too had armed guards.

***

I’m far more hateful than Pamela Geller. In fact, I’d argue there’s no way that she could hate jihad more than I do. I’ve seen jihad up-close, in an Iraqi province where jihadists raped women to shame them into becoming suicide bombers, where they put bombs in little boys’ backpacks then remotely detonated them at family gatherings, where they beheaded innocent civilians while cheering wildly like they were at a soccer match, and where they shot babies in the face to “send a message” to their parents. I’ve seen the despair in the eyes of the innocent victims of jihad, and — believe me — that despair is infinitely greater than the alleged “anguish” caused by a few cartoons…

Simply put, to know jihad is to hate jihad. And if you hate jihad, you will likely do more to help actual Muslims — to save them from death and misery — than the most politically-correct newspaper editor or the most hand-wringing academic.

I don’t know Pamela Geller, and I certainly don’t know her heart, but it’s simply bizarre that so few of the tens of thousands of words decrying her “hatred” have actually examined the actions of the jihadists she opposes. Isn’t genocide worth hating? Isn’t the systematic oppression of women? The selling of children into slavery? And in our hatred, we are in good company. As the writer of Proverbs states, there are “six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him” among those “abominations” are “hands that shed innocent blood.” Those are jihadist hands — hands even God hates.

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Williams, who said he’s an advocate for free speech, proceeded to open his remarks by critiquing Geller’s tactics.

“I think … that she is like a pyromaniac who goes before the judge and says, ‘Oh, yeah we’re setting those fires just to see how fast the fire department can respond,” he said. “She intentionally was provocative in her actions.”