Pamela Geller, a controversial “racist-Islamophobic-anti-Muslim-bigot” blogger, views Islam as a politically driven religion, barbaric at its core and expansionist by nature, establishing herself as a lightning rod for attention in the post-9/11 United States.
As a blogger, she wages a form of holy war through Atlas Shrugs, a Web site that attacks Islam with a rhetoric venomous enough that PayPal at one point branded it a hate site. She has called for the removal of the Dome of the Rock from atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; posted doctored pictures of Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court justice, in a Nazi helmet; suggested the State Department was run by “Islamic supremacists”; and referred to health care reform as an act of national rape.
This loose-knit cadre’s vision of Islam in an age of terror is not unlike a cold war view of Communism: a stealthy global threat creeping into nodes of power that must be opposed at all cost.
“In the war between the savage and the civilized man,” Ms. Geller says, “you side with the civilized man.”
Geller has been writing since 2005, but this summer she skyrocketed to national prominence as the firebrand in chief opposing Park51, the planned Muslim community center she denounces as “the ground zero mega-mosque.”
Operating without traditional academic, public-policy or journalism credentials, Gellar has helped set the tone and shape the narrative for a divisive national debate over Park51. On May 6, 2010, Gellar spread the word through the Atlas of the “monster mosque” as “insulting and humiliating” and a metaphorical “stab in the eye of America.”
Geller the invited readers to protest the “9/11 monster mosque being built on hallowed ground zero,” in a post that was among the first to spread the misimpressions that the project was at the World Trade Center site and would solely house a prayer space. However, the Park51 project, which would include a mosque, sports facilities and cultural programs to promote understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims, won unanimous approval from a committee of Community Board 1.
Despite her twisted sense of humor, using terms like “diabolical” and “stealth jihadist” referring to the journalist Christiane Amanpour and the Republican operative Grover Norquist, critics say her influence is serious -- a spreading fear of Islam and a dehumanization of Muslims comparable to the sometimes-violent anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism of earlier eras.
Ms. Geller said in an ABC News interview that it was “insulting to the American people” to suggest that she and her allies inspired the anger over the project. But if many people have a general unease over the idea of a mosque downtown, Geller has provided a vocabulary to express it and a framework to understand it: worries about Islam. As opposition for Park51 grew, antipathy for Islam did as well.
Geller describes her early years as imbued with a sense of American power and rectitude, so pervasive that it need not be articulated.
“Growing up as the sort of tail end of the baby boomers, there was this feeling of invincibility in America,” said Geller. “We were free. The good guys won. The good cop is on the beat. I certainly don’t get a sense of that anymore.”
If Geller represents the “good guys,” what compassion is left for Islamic citizens?