ISIS has reportedly posted anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller’s address, with orders to, “Go forth and kill her.”
Some people say that Geller has only herself to blame, for publicly being so critical of Islam. Yet if you listen to Geller, as in her recent interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo [below], you realize that it’s not Islam she’s after so much as the idea of “submission.”
Islam, more than any other religion or ideology on the planet right now, is all about submission. The term Islam means precisely that, when translated: submit. Submission means forgetting about your liberty. It means ignoring the fact that your rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable.
Geller does not use the word “inalienable” in this particular interview. But that’s the concept she’s defending here.
Cuomo, who in other contexts has claimed that the First Amendment does not protect what he considers “hate speech” (which includes Geller’s recent anti-Islamic cartoon event in Garland, TX), comes across somewhat differently here.
In this interview, Cuomo seems to imply that Geller does have a right to free speech, and certainly a right not to be murdered by intolerant Muslim terrorists. But he also accuses Geller of going “too far.”
What precisely constitutes “too far” when it comes to the inalienable right to free speech? We’re not talking about taste or style here. Taste and style — and whether you approve of mocking a religion or not — are a different issue from free speech. If mockery of Islam is illegal (even if only sometimes), then the whole concept of church-state separation is gone. For unknown reasons, people like Chris Cuomo seek to sneak in just a little religious dictatorship when it comes to Islam, although only with Islam. Why is that?
Sadly, Pamela Geller seems irrational or crazy, to some, not because she is — but because the concept of inalienable rights appears to be gone from our culture. As a result, many people have no idea what she’s talking about.
Cuomo draws a line in some indefinable place when it comes to free speech. Free speech is fine, but you can’t take it too far, he keeps saying. You can’t deliberately provoke.
Why not? No answer is ever given. It’s taken as a self-evident fact.
But that’s not how ISIS and other proponents of intolerance, including Islamic Sharia Law, think or feel. Geller calls them “devout,” not because she’s praising them, but because she takes them at their word. And by their repeated and serious threats against her own life, she knows they’re serious. She repeatedly tells Cuomo in the interview, “They’re coming after you, too.” It’s not just him personally. It’s anyone who doesn’t share their point-of-view. Self-described “progressives” like Chris Cuomo are enabling and sanctioning their own destroyers.
Geller is trying to show America that rights are inalienable. This concept is the very thing under attack, not just by militant ISIS radicals, but by a lot of people who think their beliefs or attitudes trump rights. The ISIS militants are merely the most unyielding about it. We have to be unyielding in return; otherwise, we’ll lose our freedoms, if not to ISIS or Islam, then surely to somebody else.
It’s clear what Geller is after here: Principled, unyielding affirmation of the right to free speech — not in some cases, not in most cases, but in all cases.
It’s not so clear what Cuomo is after. He’s equating moderation with reason. He’s essentially saying, “You have to be principled. But you also have to be reasonable.”
Reasonable, he would probably say, means self-policing, and limiting your free speech so that it does not offend others. This is called appeasement. You can’t appease people who mean to kill you. If you submit to an ideology like Islam in some cases, or even one case, you have sent the message that you will submit in any case.
It’s like dealing with a crook. If you told a crook, “Well, you can steal $20 from me. But you can’t steal $100,” you would be surrendering the principle that the crook has no right to any of your property. Some things should not be moderated. You would not say, “Well, we have to be reasonable. We have to be moderate. Of course you have a right to your money. But if that thief wants some of it, why go off the deep end? Give him something. It won’t hurt you.”
I realize that when a gun is pointed at your head, as with a terrorist or a kidnapper, you might submit in hopes of surviving. I would never condemn anyone who did this. At the same time, we can’t surrender the principle or the idea that the gunman or terrorist is morally wrong — and ought to be sought out and destroyed in retaliation for what he did.
If the rest of America is as afraid to take a principled stand for liberty, including free speech, as milquetoast Chris Cuomo seems to be in this interview, then freedom will fade from our society, before long. It’s already fading, in fact, which is why terrorists like ISIS — who sense the weakness — feel so comfortable attacking us as they repeatedly do. Rest assured that a society dominated by Pamela Gellers would in no way be vulnerable to a gang of mindless brutes like ISIS.
Rights are inalienable. It’s as simple as that. You can think or feel whatever you wish to think or feel about Pamela Geller, and what she has to say. But if you’re not willing to defend her right to say it, then you’re surrendering and submitting to anyone — Muslim or anyone else — who doesn’t want you to be free.
You can call it “moderate” or reasonable. But it’s really little more than a death wish.
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