So what have we learned from the shootings in Texas? According to Pamela Geller, agente provocateuse of the Anti-Muslim International, it’s that “this is a war.”
She wishes. What we’ve learned is that if you go to the Dallas metroplex and announce you are holding a “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest,” a couple of jihadi wannabes will arrive and try to shoot up the place. How many of you find this surprising?
The would-be assassins are themselves dead, and deserve no sympathy. They took the bait, and for their pains became the latest casualties of their own benighted values.
But no one should mistake Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative for Charlie Hebdo. The staff members who were murdered in January were satirists of all pieties, all establishments. If they behaved with bad taste, they stood for something worth standing for: free expression, without fear or favor. Geller & Co. are about something not worth standing for: hostility to a great religious tradition.
No doubt, they are now congratulating themselves on a job well done: two dead Muslims and massive publicity for their cause. They are happy to take advantage of the guarantees of the First Amendment, to advertise their hate-filled messages on buses and subways, to do their best to promote open hostility to Islam.
From time to time Americans have yielded to such fear-mongering — of Catholics in the 19th century, Germans during World War I, Japanese during World War II, Communists after both world wars — and lived to regret it. Since the attack of 9/11, we’ve done a pretty good job of keeping our balance regarding Muslims. Geller’s antics are a useful reminder of what it’s like to do otherwise.