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.

15 Responses

  1. It’s a shame that anti gay and anit islam bigots can’t get together.
    However one they will walk, maybe not hand in hand but together under the sun.

  2. Hi Richard

    As one of those people who had been invited by Jason Campbell (Martin Mawyer’s assistant) to the meal that (for me and Jason at least), never was, I think I am now really confused.

    At the time, I was not aware of the strength of the views of Martin Mawyer (or Jason) regarding gay issues. I expected they would be against homosexual lifestyles, as their religion dictates. But it was only on your blog, after I pointed out to you that the bearded man interviewing hooded EDL members in a video was Martin Mawyer, that I first become aware of the extent of Mr Mawyer’s loathing of gays (and Ellen Degeneres). All I knew about CAN was what my editor told me before I set off to London – that they were linked with the website I write for. I assumed they would be Republican and conservative Christian in their outlook.

    I do not consider myself a homophobe, and Douglas Murray has certainly viciously condemned homophobia on his appearances on that Sunday morning show with Nicky Campbell.

    But as Douglas stated after the event, he would allow himself to be interviewed by anyone. I was interviewed for an hour on video by Martin and Jason. Even knowing their homophobia, I would still do the same, as long as I was allowed to freely express my own opinions.

    I am assuming (though I do not know for certain) that it was with this approach in mind that Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller went ahead with being involved with this “Islam Rising” video.

    I think – and this is only my theory/hunch – that opinions were expressed on the video that in the narrative expressed these “Biblical” condemnations of homosexuality.

    And I think that this can be the only reason for Spencer, Geller and Wilders to all pull out at the same time. I can only assume that they did not see the final cut of the DVD until the last minute and were upset by narrative or editorial comments that appeared on “Islam Rising”.

    I am tempted to buy a copy to put an end to speculation.

    Anyway, that is my view, for what it is worth.

    • Thanks. I’m happy to agree that there’s no reason why you or Murray would know much about Mawyer’s views, and there are many valid reasons why you might still accept an interview request even if you did know them. But Spencer must have known athe extent of Mawyer’s homophobia in September – and I suspect Wilders might have wished to have been informed…

      I’ve clarified the blog post just in case.

      • Hi Richard. I do not know why WIlders would have agreed to the involvement of CAN, though the quote you give from him is reasonable.

        But I suspect that something quite serious must have been stated on the DVD, perhaps imputing that Spencer, Geller, Wilders etc agreed that only by fighting the “immorality “of homosexual tolerance could societies stand up to Islamism (“Islam”).

        You are right to question this – and to expect more clarity from Robert Spencer et alia. After all, if they pulled out of a premiere screening, then there must have been reasons, and I think that they should have been upfront and specific as to what those are, to deflect speculation (such as the speculation that we are here engaged with).

        I am sure you will get to the bottom of it. Since I read this earlier I have been thinking hard, and though my “theory” seems logical, it is not backed up by Pamela Geller’s account on her site. There she blames – as you rightly report – previous CAN outbursts re Ellen Degeneres etc. And Robert Spencer backs her up.

        But you are right that Robert was made aware of the views of Martin Mawyer last August/September.

        So WHY pull out now?

        At that time last year, Pamela posted a notice on her site that claimed that Robert Spencer would be attending the official opening of SIOA, along with Martin Mawer and Christine Brimm. Almost as soon as it appeared, it vanished.

        And strangely, the Internet Archive entries for Atlas Shrugs end mysteriously on July 30, 2008. Ms Geller may have installed software such as “Robots.txt” (used by Times Newspapers and others) to block automated bot access (no innuendo intended).

        SIOA (Stop the Islamisation of America) seemed to be closely connected with Anders Gravers’ SIOE, and perhaps it was wise for Mr Spencer to avoid it.

        There is something very fishy about this current scenario, and the “apologia” offered by both Ms Geller and Mr Spencer just do not add up. Robert Spencer DID know about the homophobia.

        There is something “political” behind this and I would love to know what it is. My “theory” initially made sense to me, but if the pair distanced themselves from the opening of the movie, they could have stated that their views were being represented badly, or that they were distancing themselves from homophobic statements made within the movie. But they did not – they refer to previously published statements that we KNOW that at least Robert Spencer was aware of.

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