Posted on 10 December 2012
Geller appeared on the program and posted her version of what happened in a WND article Russell Brand’s ugly jihad. The article was subtitled “Pamela Geller shares horror of appearing as ‘guest’ on actor’s talk show”. In the course of Geller’s lament she says: “I was prepared for a snake pit. I was prepared for a circus. But I wasn’t prepared for the pure evil that I was confronted with.” Geller expressed surprise that Brand was “obscene and profane”. She insinuates that the program set up an audience member with a sign, and called that person “a Muslim” who she said she “half expected to pull out a knife and try to behead me.” About Charles Davis she says: I learned after the fact that Charles Davis is an employee of Code Pink and writes for Al-Jazeera. If I had known that going in, I would have been more circumspect. As to Geller’s reference to Russell Brand as a “jihadist”, I’ll have to add this to our list of ridiculous “jihad plots”, she and her fellow Islamophobes turn up daily.
If she had googled Charles Davis, his personal website with a full biography would have come up. Right on the front page it says “A journalist whose work has aired on NPR and Pacifica radio stations and been published by Al Jazeera, Inter Press Service, The New Inquiry and Salon.” His google blog provides more biographical information. Geller did link to this blog in her statement about what she “learned after the fact”, so perhaps this should be a lesson that it is a good idea to check your facts before and not after getting yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Geller represents herself as a “journalist” and it would seem that checking sources should be part of journalism 101.
Charles Davis himself responded to Geller’s lament in an article Bigotry for broadcast
Working on a talk show called BrandX with comedian Russell Brand, it was my job to get bigots to agree to something they shouldn’t: Coming on the show. ... The first time I ever spoke with Pamela Geller she chastised me. “I’m here at the booth and they don’t have my name,” she complained over the phone in a moderately irritated Long Island accent. The anti-Islam jingo who led the campaign against the “Ground Zero mosque” had just flown from New York to LA to, in her mind, encourage television viewers primarily between the ages of 18 and 35 to put aside whatever differences they may have and just focus on hating Muslims.
Geller, the woman behind an ad campaign on US public transit portraying plucky Israel as the “Civilised Man” (take a wild guess who the uncivilised “Savage” is) had agreed to appear on a regular segment she did not know called, “Totally Unacceptable Opinion”. As the guy who’d convinced her to come, it was my job to put on a polite smile for ten minutes and lead her to the green room; to put aside my normal pre-show routine of interrogating people in the line outside about their disgusting sex lives - every taboo violated is a tiny revolution, comrade - in favour of making nice with a hatemonger in a glittery jacket. The Bigot, it so happens, Wears Prada.
Imagining myself a borderline not-terrible person, I put aside my well-I-oughta grumbling and did not dwell on the fact that Ms Geller had shown up at the wrong gate after ignoring my politely repeated request that she holler at me prior to arriving. No, with the confidence and grace of a god walking amongst the sure to be damned, I apologised for an error that was not mine. And carried her stupid bag.
You can see then how saddened I was to find that my pained affectation of decency was not reflected in Geller’s post-show account of her appearance in a characteristically understated column entitled, “Russell Brand’s ugly jihad”. Written in an underground hate-lair lined with row upon row of mid-80s televisions cycling at 2.5 speed through a horrific loop of car crashes, assassinations, atom bombs and natural disasters - one imagines - Geller’s column provided a livid, refreshingly fictional account of the little jingo-blogger that could doing battle with basic cable.
“Charlie is a liar.” I had led her to believe, allegedly, that her ripped from Ayn Rand hate rhetoric would be treated in a “meaningful fashion”, because that’s typically how they do things on late-night talk shows broadcast by cable channels better known for mixed martial arts. Pasted in the column were emails from me wherein I had promised we would “discuss the threat opposed by Islamists, including those living within our midst”. Do something neither author nor recipient apparently did: Read that last bit twice.
So what happened? At the taping, Geller shied away from the Islamophobic red meat she daily dishes on her blog, perhaps sensing that a Hollywood audience of 18-35 year-olds fresh from the pot dispensary probably weren’t all that concerned about the imposition of Islamic law in their lifetimes. Asked if the West should attack Iran, she replied with a simple “no” and a look of “who would ever…?” bemusement, never mind what she tells her fans: “Iran should be attacked today and their people liberated from their misery.”
She wasn’t a hatemonger who sees jihad under every hijab, but a human rights activist, Geller protested. And then someone in the audience protested that: “Pamela’s racism kills!” shouted a young man, holding up a sign that said the same thing. After a couple chants, Russell brought him on stage where he explained his objection: Pamela Geller is a hatemonger, a belligerent and ignorant purveyor of fear and advocate of war and hate and intolerance. Or maybe those are my words. And that was pretty much it, Russell soon booting both protester and protested off the stage. Next up: Eric Idle singing a song about fellatio. Such is television.
Reading Pamela’s account, however, depicts a cable talk show that is both suprisingly dangerous and weirdly Islamic. That protester guy? An “extremist Muslim” whose crazy outburst of disagreement made her think she was about to fall victim to a jihadist, one she claims was planted by the show. “I half expected him to pull out a knife and try to behead me.” To be fair, it would have made interesting TV.
While no one’s denying the protester wasn’t pasty white - indeed, suspiciously not so - he isn’t actually Muslim, but an atheist who, as it happens, fought with the US Marine Corps in Iraq. Geller, it seems, based her assessment that he was an Islamic extremist on two things: His opposition to her and his aforementioned lack of pastiness. If I were trying to avoid accusations of prejudice, I probably wouldn’t use “the Muslim” as shorthand for “that non-white I don’t like”. You could end up looking foolish, ya know?
Hate comes in all shapes and sizes
Demagogues come in different flavours, but they share a lot of the same basic ingredients. Some like to play dress up and do the whole Third Reich thing, while others go professional, drawing up talking points and casting their hate as humanitarian: Isn’t it awful how *marginalised brown subgroup* treats sex-positive kinksters?
The guys from Westboro Baptist Church don’t give a damn if you agree with them, being the trolls of the hate movement. Their identity is based on righteous opposition to a decadent society; on the smug contentment that comes with thinking one has this whole life thing figured out. Being hated only bolsters their beliefs, like some terrible homophobic supervillain. And they’re actually a bit taken aback when you don’t take the bait. Yelling’s part of the show.
Others are more aware of their audience, finessing their message in front of non-believers and saving the vitriol for the blogosphere. This type is naturally more dangerous the more charismatic they come - no, Pam, not you - as they are able to cloak a reactionary agenda in the language of liberal sensibility, cracking an award-winning smile, child on the knee, as they press a red button to obliterate a village in a distant province. The most dangerous ones are often Democrats.
That’s the thing about hate: It doesn’t always look or sound the same. It’s something that infects the mind, not always recognisable by crazy signs and swastikas and Michelle Malkin books. Oh, would that evil came sporting a Hitler ‘stache every time; the reality is more banal. Sometimes hate manifests itself in the Old Testament-quoting street preacher, other times in the respected diplomat: The Madeleine Albright coolly justifying the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq. It may not always be recognised as hate to inflict such suffering on the foreign Other, to as a matter of policy deprive whole populations of basic medical supplies - and that’s why it’s so dangerous.
It’s bad being labelled decent, instead of, say, totally unacceptable. And that can’t be good.
Working in television has reinforced something I started to learn while a reporter covering Congress: The people doing all the hateful things are just people, unfortunately, who are a bit sicker than most, suffering the same insecurities and vices as the next human on this planet and just choosing to deal with it in a really terrible way. That’s not to excuse their behaviour, but to explain it.
It’s comforting when the purveyors of intolerance are overtly mean-spirited caricatures dressed in SS outfits. Some are, but most aren’t. A lot of them are perfectly ordinary, polite almost to a fault. Some are, superficially, likable. And they’re not just on the fringe or late-night television. The ones you really need to watch out for are being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer.
Pamela Geller doesn’t much care for Islam (or, after being interviewed by Russell, BrandX). On her blog, Atlas Shrugs, she daily reports on crimes allegedly committed by Muslims – and only Muslims – wherever in the world they might be, painting a picture for her largely white and scared suburban audience of a world where swarthy Others are hell bent on the global imposition of Sharia law. Fathers, watch your daughters: Muhammed’s coming to town and he wants her to wear a burka.
The odd, weird, curious thing about Pamela’s Islamophobia, though, is that while she’ll own it in front of a bunch of flag-waving Tea Partiers protesting a mosque, she’ll back away from it in front of a crowd of young Hollywood liberals. Indeed, the way she spoke during her appearance on BrandX, you’d almost think she didn’t want to turn the Middle East to glass.
Here are a few examples of how Hollywood Pamela differed from the attention-seeking jingo we’ve all come to know and love:
Russell: “Do you believe America would be better off without any Muslims?”
ACTUALLY. In her book, Stop the Islamization of America – a-fucking-hem – Pamela argues that the threat facing America is posed “not just [by] immigrant Muslims, the problem is the doctrine of jihad and the ideology of Islamic supremacism, which any Muslim anywhere can hold.”
Russell: “Pamela, should we have a war … with Iran? Should we do a war right at them?”
ACTUALLY. On her blog, Pamela has written, “Iran should be attacked today and their people liberated from their misery.”
Russell: “Do you believe President Obama supports jihad against America?”
Pamela: “Only in Libya… . [He’s] not pro-jihad.”
ACTUALLY. On her blog, Pamela has written that “one thing is for sure: [Barack] Hussein [Obama] is a muhammadan. He’s not insane ………..he wants jihad to win.”
SPECIAL BONUS FEATURE: When asked about Anders Breivik – “that bloke in Norway who was a bit mental and he killed children to express himself,” as Russell put it – Pamela, one of Breivik’s favorite bloggers, called him a “madman.” However, on her blog Pamela described the summer camp targeted by Breivik as an “Antisemitic Indoctrination Training Center” with a “pro-Islamic agenda,” arguing that the 77 people murdered there were not entirely innocent:
“Breivik was targeting the future leaders of the party responsible for flooding Norway with Muslims who refuse to assimilate, who commit major violence against Norwegian natives, including violent gang rapes, with impunity, and who live on the dole… all done without the consent of the Norwegians.”
Actually, Davis didn’t misrepresent anything. Does Geller believe that President Obama supports jihad? Just yesterday, Geller published an article which opens with “Reaping more of the poison fruit of Obama’s pro-jihad foreign policy.” Did Geller make shocking comments about Breivik’s victims at the youth camp? See Shamelessly Attacking the Memory of Norway Terror Victims for more documentation on this. Does Geller “much care for” Muslims? See Pamela Geller: Love or pathological hatred towards Muslims? for numerous examples of Geller’s “love” for Muslims. See Resources for dealing with Islamophobes for detailed information about these folks, their tactics, and responses to their false claims.
Pamela Geller obviously has still not learned to do a “search”, and that doesn’t help her accuracy or truth-telling abilities. In the world of the Islamophobes, that isn’t a problem, since if caught out, they simply either claim that they are being misrepresented, or attempt to conceal or disappear the evidence.