Pamela Geller is an anti-Islamic political activist, author, and commentator. She is the founder, editor, and publisher of the blog Atlas Shrugs, which she uses as a platform for her anti-Muslim rhetoric and to disparage her political opponents. Along with the notorious anti-Islamic writer Robert Spencer, she is the cofounder the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), where Geller is currently executive director.
Geller is the author of numerous articles and books, including 2011's Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance, in which Geller discusses how to "fight the mosque-ing of your neighborhood." She is also the coauthor with Robert Spencer of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America (2010), which includes a foreword by former Ambassador John Bolton. Geller is a frequent contributor to World Net Daily, the late Andrew Breitbart's Big Governmentand Big Journalism, the American Thinker, and other right-wing publications.
Although Geller is best known for her invectives against Islam and Muslims, she has often expressed hawkish views on various foreign policy issues, including Iran. In an April 2011 op-ed for the right-wing Human Events, Geller wrote that Iran, not Libya, should have been the target of U.S. military intervention. "[O]ur finest, bravest Americans are risking their lives to fight alongside al-Qaeda in Libya," she wrote, echoing allegations that al-Qaeda fighters were among the Libyan resistance and falsely suggesting that the United States had sent ground troops. "That's right, our boys are, in effect, fighting alongside al-Qaeda jihadists and Libyan rebels. Are they forced to pray too? You know, Obama demands that we show respect. Just how far, O?" She added, "[W]e can't be everywhere, nor should we be. So we pick our fights based on where we can do the most good and remove the biggest evil. Iran should have been the target."
In a March 2012 posting on Spencer's Jihad Watch website, Geller penned an insult-ridden response to a Foreign Policy in Focus column by John Feffer, which argued that U.S. foreign policy—especially in Afghanistan—was undermining its rhetoric of outreach to the Muslim world. In response, Geller suggested the real source of America's troubles in the Muslim world was Islam. "We don't apologize for our greatness," she wrote. "We don't apologize for who we are. We are the greatest nation on earth. John Feffer, on the other hand, wants us to surrender: Feffer likes what he sees on the other side of the abyss. Feffer ought to back up his admiration and reluctance to criticize the human rights abuses inherent in Islamic law and go live under the Sharia. Maybe then he wouldn't be such a self-important clown."
Geller has also criticized GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his December 2011 remark that "Islam is not an inherently a violent faith," stating: "The [Islamic] ideology is the most violent and radical on the face of the earth. What history books is Romney reading — Dr. Seuss? … There are hundreds of millions of jihadis, what's Romney smokin'?" Geller concluded that the remark made Romney "unfit to be president."
Like many on the neoconservative and nationalist right, Geller takes a hardline "pro-Israel" view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a 2008 op-ed for Israel's Arutz Sheva, she wrote: "I say to Israel, stand loud and proud. Give up nothing. Turn over not a pebble. For every rocket fired, drop a MOAB. Take back Gaza. Secure Judea and Samaria. Stop buying Haaretz. Throw leftists bums out."
Her pro-Israel, anti-Islam sympathies appear to be partly inspired by her favorite "thinker," Ayn Rand, a controversial novelist whose ideas—which include celebrating greed and deriding altruism as evil—have been lauded by other public figures, including the 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan.
Rand once argued that "Arabs are one of the least developed cultures. They are typically nomads. Their culture is primitive, and they resent Israel because it's the sole beachhead of modern science and civilization on their continent. When you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are."
Geller has repeatedly paraphrased this quote in her public statements about Israel. In an October 2010 interview with the New York Times, she said: "[D]o I see everything through the prism of Israel? No, I don't, but I do think it's a very good guide." She then added: "It's a very good guide because … in the war between the civilized man and the savage, you side with the civilized man."
On her blog, "Atlas Shrugs" (a reference to Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged), Geller has promoted a number of controversial causes and arguments. "In Atlas Shrugs," reported the Guardian in 2010, "Geller lays bare her sympathies with extremist groups across the globe. She has vigorously defended Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian president who died while on trial at The Hague for war crimes, and denied the existence of Serbian concentration camps in the 1990s. She has [also] allied herself with racist extremists in South Africa in promoting a claim that the black population is carrying out a 'genocide' of whites."
On Extremism and Park51
Geller's Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) has been labeled as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League, which has accused SIOA of "promot[ing] a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam." SIOA gained attention as an early driving force behind the controversy surrounding the construction of Park51, a planned 13-story Muslim community center located two blocks from the World Trade Center site. SIOA launched a campaign to "Stop the 9/11 Mosque!"The initiative was remarkably successful for setting the negative tone of the Park51 debate nationally, noted the New York Times, even though Geller and her allies were "operating largely outside traditional Washington power centers—and, for better or worse, without traditional academic, public-policy or journalism credentials."
At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in January 2011, SIOA and its parent organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, premiered a film on the subject. In his opening remarks at the conference, Robert Spencer attempted to justify the film's provocative title, The Ground Zero Mosque: Second Wave of the 9/11 Attacks. "Some people have actually told us they find that [title] offensive," he said. "How can the Ground Zero Mosque be the 'second wave of the 9/11 attacks'? Look at history. All through the world, whenever Islamic jihadists conquered a land, they would build a mosque of triumph. … All of [these mosques] are understood universally in the Islamic world, in the areas where they are, as marking the triumph and superiority of Islam." If the center were completed, Spencer warned, "the average Muslim on the street … will be more emboldened, will say America is weak, America is conquered, and America is ripe for the plucking. This mosque will be the most encouraging development for the Islamic jihad since 9/11 itself."
The center opened in September 2011 without incident.
At a demonstration organized by SIOA against the building of Park51 on September 11, 2010, Geller introduced Geert Wilders, the keynote speaker, as her "hero." Wilders is a Dutch parliamentarian who has described Muslims as a threat to European democracies and has advocated banning immigration to Holland from Muslim-majority countries. Wilders called on New York to "defend itself against the powers of darkness" while claiming "America, New York, and shari'a are incompatible." In 2010, Wilders was accused of criminally insulting religious and ethnic groups and inciting hatred and discrimination.
Geller also invited the notorious English Defence League (EDL) to her September 2010 anti-mosque rally in New York. EDL leader Tommy Robinson had originally planned to attend the demonstration, but due to concerns about the EDL's ties to the far right and neo-Nazi groups, Robinson was denied entry at JFK Airport in New York and sent back to England. A May 2010 report by the Guardian noted EDL's tactic of targeting British Muslim communities with aggressive and confrontational protests to "provoke mayhem and disorder."
Geller later claimed to have parted ways with the EDL, writing in June 2011 that the group had "morphed and diverged from its original course" and had "clearly been infiltrated by the worst kind of [presumably neo-Nazi] influences." However, in June 2012, the international group "Stop Islamization of Nations" announced that Geller would appear in August 2012 with EDL leader Robinson at the "First Annual Global Counter Jihad rally" in Stockholm.
Geller has been one of a chorus of right-wing voices—also including Spencer, Frank Gaffney, Clare Lopez, and David Yerushalmi, to name a few—to warn about the "threat" of "creeping sharia" in the United States, and is an avid backer of laws to restrict the consideration of sharia law by U.S. courts.
In a March 2012 piece for the American Thinker, Geller equated sharia law "with stoning, amputations, clitorectomies, honor killings, death for apostates, the denial of free speech, and the treatment of women like slaves." Geller has also suggested that any criticism of her views is tantamount to "reinforcing Sharia," even though she has been criticized by Jewish and secular organizations in addition to Islamic groups.
Geller's work has attracted considerable criticism from Islamic, Jewish, and civil rights groups alike. The Southern Poverty Law Center has called her "relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denouncements of Islam" and has accused her of making "preposterous claims," including that President Obama is the son of Malcolm X and a supporter of jihad. She has also accused Obama and the Department of Justice of "aiding and abetting the restoring [of] the universal caliphate." In addition to entertaining a host of more idiosyncratic conspiracy theories, Geller joined a number of commentators on the right-wing fringe by questioning the validity of the president's birth certificate, suggesting that he may be foreign-born.
Geller's anti-Muslim stance has also drawn the admiration of white nationalist and neo-Nazi proponents on the extreme right—"a rather remarkable feat," notes the SPLC, "considering she is Jewish."
In a detailed 2010 profile on Geller, the New York Times noted that in conversation, Geller "habitually refers to herself as a 'racist-Islamophobic-anti-Muslim-bigot'—all one word in her pronunciation." It also includes a disavowal of Geller's views from Charles Johnson—a former conservative who runs the blog Little Green Footballs, where Ms. Geller got her start as a frequent commenter. "She's enabling a real bigotry," he said, and "a lot of people are convinced by the propaganda she repeats like a mantra. "Nine-eleven didn't happen in a vacuum—it came from a long history. But when people like Pam Geller are the loudest voices out there talking about it, it drowns out everything else and makes everyone look crazy."
Geller's assertions about Islam and the Park51 community center became common talking points for Republican leaders. Rick Lazio, for example, a former U.S representative from the state of New York, echoed Geller's characterization of Park51 imam Feisal Abdul Rauf as a "terrorist sympathizer." In late March 2011, she was even invited by the Alaska House of Representatives to testify on a proposed anti-sharia bill.
In a manifesto posted online, Anders Breivik—the Norwegian gunman who killed dozens of young Labor Party activists in a July 2011 rampage against the party's supposed "cultural Marxism"—offered considerable praise for Geller. He cited her blog, Atlas Shrugs, at least 12 times, alongside other anti-Islamic publications like Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch, Islam Watch, and David Horowitz's Front Page magazine. Breivik echoed the groups' rhetoric, claiming that Muslims sought to impose "sharia laws" and that "there are no important theological differences between jihadists and so-called 'peaceful' or 'moderate' Muslims." In the wake of Breivik's attacks, Geller wrote that "Attempts to link us to these murders on the basis of alleged postings by the murderer mentioning us are absurd and offensive." Breivik "is responsible for his actions. He and only he."
Several days later, Geller wrote that the Labor Party youth camp that Breivik had ravaged was "a Communist/Socialist campground" with a clear "pro-Islamic agenda." In a caption that would later be removed, she implored readers to look at a photo of the camp's attendees and "Note the faces which are more Middle Eastern or mixed than pure Norwegian."