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Texas shootings: Breaking the far right-ISIS circle of hate

The Garland attack gave event organiser Pam Geller exactly what she wanted - but Muslims in Texas showed us the right way to respond

On Sunday night, two gunmen with expressed sympathies for ISIS, intended to kill attendees of an anti-Muslim event convened by Pamela Geller’s Freedom Defense Initiative. The two anti-free speech maniacs were shot dead by law enforcement.

Thankfully, the pro-hate speech maniacs participating in the event were unharmed.

As we overly analyse the motives and inspiration of the maniacal would-be murderers, let’s not overlook the fact that Geller is a vile and racist human who is well-funded by Zionist billionaires and anti-Muslim bigots to peddle hate and suspicion of Muslims under the smokescreen of “free speech”.

Let’s not also overlook the fact that Geller got exactly what she wanted: a victim-free attack carried out by a couple of deranged individuals who call themselves Muslim. Now she can tell her foaming at the mouth, 9/11 reactionary, anti-Muslim followers: “See, I told you.” Expect more money to flow Geller’s way.

This symbiotic relationship - one that posits there is a war between the West and Islam and vice versa - between Zionist, New Atheist, and Christian right bigots and groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, is alive and well.

“When news of the shooting got to the members inside the event, they erupted in applause and began singing patriotic songs on their way out,” noted Omar Suleiman, founder of the Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Texas.

Geller gets what she wants

Geller wasted no time in using the deceased gunmen as pawns in her “war of civilisations” game. "This incident shows how much needed our event really was. The freedom of speech is under violent assault here in our nation. The question now before is - will we stand and defend it, or bow to violence, thuggery, and savagery?” wrote Gellar.

Symbiotically, ISIS was equally pleased. ABC News noted that ISIS supporters were celebrating the attack across a range of social media platforms, urging their “brothers” in the US to do their part against others who insult the Prophet Muhammad.

In the event you missed the “positive” feedback loop that is happening here, it looks like this:

Geller: The West is at war with Islam.

ISIS: See, the West is at war with Islam.

The idiotic simplicity of each respective party’s propagandistic slogan rallies recruits and funding for both sides in this erroneous “clash of civilisations”. The anti-Islam movement, led by Zionists, neocons, New Atheists, and the Christian Right; and the violent Islamist movements, led by ISIS and al-Qaeda, are two sides of the same coin.

These extremists want you to join their war. Like the Nazis, Soviets, and Mao communists of yore, these extremists urge you to join the march towards their competing versions of an unattainable utopia. For anti-Muslim bigots, it’s a world sans Muslims. For ISIS, it’s a world sans those who do not practice their demented interpretation of Islam. These utopian extremists have names: al-Baghdadi, al-Zawahiri, Geller, David Horowitz, Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sam Harris and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Resisting the call to apocalypse

Peaceful and pluralistic civilians everywhere must resist their call; otherwise we too will become pawns in their apocalyptic endgame.

Muslim groups in Texas have set a path for us - the tolerant - to follow. “The mosques and tens of thousands of Muslims in Dallas didn’t even bother protesting Geller/Wilder’s hate-fest,” observed Suleiman. “Hate groups incite their own and incite others and that’s what they feed off... Geller wasted no time going to her blog to proclaim ‘This is a war.’ This is what extremists on all sides want. To all peaceful loving people: don’t give it to them.”

While Muslim leaders and groups around the world work tirelessly to remind the West that groups like ISIS are not representative of Islam, it now falls in the lap of secular and pluralistic leaders in the West to remind the Muslim world that bigoted extremists like Geller and company are not representative of Western democratic values, and are but merely a lunatic fringe.

Free speech is the lifeblood of a thriving democracy. Hate speech is a symptom of a disintegrating society. For too long, at least since 9/11, we have allowed extremists, like Geller and the aforementioned, to occupy the mainstream. When I interviewed Max Blumenthal, a well-known Jewish-American journalist, he told me that individuals like Geller are dangerous because they have “gained traction outside of the far rightwing hot house” and are “supported by mainstream institutions here in the US”.

Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian-American journalist, told me that these groups - New Atheists in particular - don’t understand that what they’re doing is “reckless and dangerous” and that “by polarising segments in our own society, they are playing into the hands of ISIS”.

Marginalising 'our' extremists

We cannot bring about an end to the war on terror, nor we can we help the overwhelming majority of Muslims, the peaceful 99 percent, to isolate and marginalise their radical minority if we too don’t marginalise our radicalised few - namely pro-Western civilisation extremists.

“People like Pam Geller put at risk the support of the American Muslim community, which has been among our biggest counterterrorism assets,” tweeted Dr. Max Abrahms, a terrorism theorist at Northeastern University.

We must do more to assure Muslim communities that these anti-Muslim bigots are not emblematic of mainstream American society and culture. We can do this by proactively seeking to move these bigots out of the mainstream and into the far right hothouse where they belong. We can do this by shining a light on their darkness, and we can do this by illuminating where it is they derive their income and methodologies.

According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, 37 US-based anti-Islam groups enjoyed a combined revenue of $119 million in the years 2008 to 2011. One of CAIR’s findings is that these groups are “often tightly linked” and that “key players in the network benefited from large salaries as they encouraged the American public to fear Islam”.

These well-funded and well-organised groups, like Geller’s Freedom Defense Initiative, push erroneous and spiteful narratives. They spread fear of Muslims by pushing phony conspiracies. In Europe, it’s the Eurabian conspiracy - that posits there is a secret plot between European and Arab leaders to facilitate mass Muslim immigration, “subjugate Europe, and transform the continent into an Arab colony, Eurabia.” Like the Jewish conspiracy theories in Germany during the 1930s, no evidence is ever offered to support either the plot or the actual likelihood Muslims will come to dominate Europe, demographically. It’s a conspiracy that has been pushed by everyone from the nationalistic English Defense League to Geller, and is outlined in great detail in Bat Ye’or’s book Eurabia: the Euro-Arab Axis.

In America, it’s the Sharia law conspiracy theory, which holds that “alongside the use of violence is the strategy of stealth jihad, which aims at the infiltration of national institutions and the assertion of Muslim’s demands through the legal system.” It’s a conspiracy pushed by everyone from radical elements within the Republican Party to Fox News, and is outlined in-depth in Mark Steyn’s book American Alone.

Through Israel's eyes

In 2010, Geller was behind the “Mosque at Ground Zero” conspiracy, which was co-opted by Fox News, celebrity New Atheists, and the Christian Right. “You cannot discount or avoid the fact that it is an Islamic pattern to build triumphal mosques on the cherished sites of conquered lands,” said Geller in a 2010 interview for The New York Times. “It will be iconic to the jihad. It will be the icon, it will be the icon. You know, they’re finding on these jackets of the guys coming across the border, these jihadis, on their jackets they have these badges with the towers. It’ll be that. Mecca on the Hudson.”

In the same interview, Geller said to “see the world through Israel is a very good guide” because “in the war between the civilised man and the savage, you side with the civilised man”.

2010 tax records show that certain board members of The Israeli Project funded Geller. “The Israeli Project and Geller’s goals converge when it comes to Israel. They both support hawkish right-wing Israeli governments bent on colonising the West Bank. They both want aggressive US or Israeli action against Iran. Geller’s whole shtick is to cast Israel as a Western outpost in a sea of Arab and Islamic barbarism,” writes Alex Kane, a journalist for Mondoweiss.

When you identify who funds these pro-West extremists, you expose their motives, and therefore you expose their narratives as nothing more than the self-serving propaganda.

“In the moments after an attack like the one in Garland, those of us who are working to create a pluralistic society where both free speech and respect for one another go hand-in-hand must redouble our conviction to create a stronger union,” writes Paul Brandeis, a columnist for The Huffington Post.

I’ll say it again: a “stronger union” can only come when both the West and the Muslim world succeed in pushing their respective extremists to the edges. Sources of hate must be identified and isolated. It’s now up to us: the tolerant, pluralistic majority.

We can’t take away Geller and co’s right to free speech, but we can choose to isolate and marginalise those who peddle fear and hate. And at the end of the day, if Muslim groups in Texas are willing to ignore the hateful lunacy of Geller and company, then so can we.

CJ Werleman is the author of Crucifying America, God Hates You. Hate Him Back, Koran Curious, and is the host of Foreign Object. Follow him on twitter: @cjwerleman

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: FBI investigators work a crime scene outside of the Curtis Culwell Center after a shooting occurred the day before May 04, 2015 in Garland, Texas. During the "Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest," an anti-Islam event, on May 03. (AFP)

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