Fiasco: LA Premiere of Geert Wilders Documentary Cancelled

The website for the film Islam Rising: Geert Wilders’ Warning to the West carries a passive-aggressive cancellation notice:

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller have cancelled the LA Premier featuring Geert Wilders and PRB Films’ new documentary film “ISLAM RISING”. As stated on the Atlas Shrugs website, the purpose of this cancellation is because Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller are opposed to Christian Action Network’s biblical view on homosexuality.

We want it to be understood that neither Christian Action Network nor PBS Films cancelled this event. You can direct all comments regarding this cancellation to Pamela Geller at www.ATLASSHRUGS.COM.

Though we have some disagreements with Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer over biblical issues, we also want it to be clear that we have the greatest respect for them personally and professionally for all their work in the counter-Jihad movement.

We apologize to Geert Wilders and all those who have pre-registered for this event. All credit cards that have been charged WILL be refunded.

The notice fails to make clear, though, that Wilders himself also pulled out of the event following negative reports about CAN in the Dutch media; Rob Boston gives some background on the Americans United blog:

Yesterday [23 March] I received an interesting call from a reporter in the Netherlands. He was seeking information on an American Religious Right outfit called the Christian Action Network (CAN).

…it came as quite a surprise to see the pro-gay Wilders linking up with CAN, a group that has frequently used vicious anti-gay rhetoric to raise money. In one rather lurid CAN letter from 1998, Martin Mawyer, the group’s president, attacked comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who is gay.

DeGeneres played a lesbian who came out in a ‘90s sitcom called “Ellen.” Mawyer was not pleased. He said DeGeneres had “DUMPED HER FILTHY LESBIAN LIFESTYLE IN THE CENTER OF YOUR LIVING ROOM” and went on to call her a “SODOMITE.” [Caps in the original]

…Confronted with the DeGeneres letter from 1998 by De Pers, Mawyer tried a creative dodge: He simply lied about it, labeling the letter an internet hoax. Unfortunately for Mawyer, I was able to pull a paper copy of the letter from AU’s files. Believe me, it’s no hoax. (You can read it here.)

I also sent De Pers three other stridently anti-gay fund-raising letters from Mawyer. The newspaper contacted Mawyer to ask about them – were they too perhaps “internet hoaxes?” – but at this point he stopped talking.

Wilders initally tried to shrug off Mawyers’ anti-gay views, stating that

‘I totally disagree with them about this [gay marriage],’ Wilders was quoted as saying by the Pers. ‘But they can make a film about me.’

That was noted on 22 March; the next day it was reported that he was backing out, and Geller and Spencer announced the cancellation – although, like Mawyer, they make no reference to Wilders’ own decision not to attend.

Geller’s response to the notice on the Islam Rising website is typically vitriolic and aggrieved:

Contrary to the false and misleading posting on the CAN Islam Rising film site, let me be clear. Our cancellation had nothing to do with the “Christian Action Network’s biblical view on homosexuality,” but with the abusive, ugly rhetoric found in various pieces of CAN literature. Atlas readers are well aware that I welcome differing opinions and perspectives, but the unifying theme here is individual rights, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and human rights.

Just because you consider something immoral doesn’t mean you should go around heaping abuse on those who have a different view of those whom you consider immoral.

Robert Spencer, meanwhile, adds that:

The cancellation had nothing to do with the “biblical view of homosexuality,” but with the ugly, vitriolic rhetoric that Mawyer has employed in the past… Taking a stand against something one considers immoral is one thing; indulging in hysterical, self-righteous, abusive rhetoric is quite another.

…Do we think Martin Mawyer, or anyone, should be dogged by something he wrote in 1997? Of course not. He has claimed that this letter is a forgery. Very well. If he provides evidence of that, I will be happy to see it and post it. He has claimed in statements to the Dutch press that he repudiates what he said in this letter. Very well. But his disingenuous posting on the Islam Rising site does not inspire confidence. If he repudiates what he wrote in 1997, why mischaracterize it on his site as our alleged rejection of the “biblical view of homosexuality”?

This is humbug: Spencer has known all about Mawyer’s anti-gay bigotry for months. Last autumn, Spencer joined Mawyer on a trip to the UK – Mawyer used the visit to interview the leaders of the English Defence League, and there was a farcical dinner party that was cancelled at the last moment when it became apparent that Mawyer’s assistant had invited the EDL leaders to come along without asking if that was acceptable to the other guests, who included Douglas Murray (Murray and the other guests, it should be made clear, are also opposed to homophobia and would not have known much about CAN). I blogged on this fiasco, and on Mawyer’s lurid anti-gay views, and my posts were picked up by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs. On 6 September, Johnson linked to my post on Mawyer, and on 9 September he made full reference to Mawyer’s “FILTHY LESBIAN LIFESTYLE” letter, and mocked Spencer for hanging out with the “extremists of the Christian Action Network”.

We know that Spencer read these posts, because he responded on his blog, denouncing Johnson as a “libelblogger” and defending his association with CAN:

As for the CAN, I am working with them because of their excellent work on the documentary Homegrown Jihad. I do not feel myself bound to endorse every one of their other positions, or consider that I have done so, by working with them. In reality, I don’t make public statements on issues that are not jihad-related.

As I blogged here, Spencer also made passing references to me in comments he left at Harry’s Place, so it’s clear he knew exactly what Mawyer stood for and did not consider his “hysterical, self-righteous, abusive rhetoric” to be a matter of which he should take notice. Mawyer’s coarsely-expressed bigotry only became an issue once it became clear that than association with him would be damaging to Wilders.