As Alex Seitz-Wald notes at Salon, Pamela Geller “does what we all expect her to do after the Boston Marathon bombing”: which is, of course, to declare at once that the attack was “jihad”, and to abuse anyone who suggests it might be better to wait for further information:
Etc. Geller’s confidence is based in part on an NY Post report that a Saudi national had been “detained” as a suspect, although details are currently uncertain. However, it also fits a pattern which again leads me to believe that Geller’s real target is not just Islam, but reasonable discourse and behaviour.
Of course the attack may well turn out to have been the work of Islamic extremists, but there are also other possibilities. Geller – and her close associate Robert Spencer – don’t wish merely to whip up hatred; they also wish to stigmatise the process of thinking about things reasonably.
If Islamic extremists are in due course shown to have been the attackers, Geller will present herself as someone who was willing to name the enemy while others were either weak and vacillating or attempting to suppress the truth; should she turn out to be in the wrong, she will either sniff and move on or delete anything that makes her look foolish (she took the latter course after denouncing the media for failing to expose Obama for supposedly wearing a Muslim ring).
It’s a policy that can lead to double volte faces; in March 2012, Spencer immediately suggested that a gun attack in France had been the work of “Islamic antisemitism”; when reports then suggested a neo-Nazi connection he got cold feet and deleted his post; when an Islamic extremist was later confirmed he then returned to the subject without any acknowledgement of his moment of doubt in the face of conflicting evidence.
UPDATE: Geller went on to promote a post at Frontpage by a certain Daniel Greenfield concerning Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi, the Saudi student who was injured in the attack. Greenfield poked around in Alharbi’s Facebook page, to extract a few details presented in a way to appear sinister:
Saudi Bombing Suspect: “If Today Really Was the Last Day, How Would You Spend It?”
That cheerful message was reposted by Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi from the Boston Muslim Community on his Facebook page last year. FOX News is reporting that Alharbi (harb = sword) is the “person of interest” being questioned.
…Alharbi’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated in a while. He is a Saudi student and poses in the photo above holding a golden gun on Saudi Day.
Greenfield does provide a link to the Facebook page, but it’s clear that’s he’s writing in bad faith; the “last day” comment was posted on 20 December, and was obviously a casual reference to the Mayan calendar; the meaning of “harb” has no bearing on anything, and the gun pose photo (which he reproduces) is obviously non-aggressive and jokey (and the apparent gun may actually be a novelty item).
Further, Greenfield ignores other details: Alharbi’s Facebook profile photo shows him enjoying himself in Disneyland, and his posts include a video comedy skit entitled “Things NOT to DO in Masjid” and a YouTube link to a TED talk by comedian Maz Jobrani entitled “A Saudi, an Indian and an Iranian walk into a Qatari bar”. There is zero evidence on the site that he’s a fanatic, and some real evidence that he’s not. Greenfield’s article is pseudo-journalism; and Geller’s promotion of it, while not surprising, is opportunistic and unprincipled.
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