The ballroom was electrified.
We turned a corner Friday night. Something really big happened. Something historic. In the face of a complacent, lethargic Conservative leadership, we seized the moment. The individual took up the mantle for the freedoms we hold so dear. It was the first blog event of this kind and its astounding success tells us a good deal about our mobilizing forces in the future.
The evening with Geert Wilders exceeded even our wildest expectations. Having not done anything like this before did not stop me from seeing that the over 8,000 attendees (according to my cabbie) were clueless about what the critical, most damaging issues of the day are -- freedom of speech, Islamic supremacism, the war -- none of which were being addressed at CPAC.
I was unaware when I was planning the Wilders event that there would be such a dearth of real issues discussed at CPAC -- so the evening with Geert Wilders was kismet. Wilders would be at, not of, CPAC. And was he ever! Much thanks to Robert Spencer, David Horowitz and Dr. Andrew Bostom for helping me finance the event.
The event called for 6:00. At 5: 30 they started lining up. And up and up. I ran upstairs to grab some poster board I snagged from a sad, corporate event (I figured I could write on the back, make signs pointing to where we were -- the room was very hard to find), and I when I emerged from the elevator the joint was jumpin'! The line was stretched as far as the eye could see. We were out the promenade, through the lobby, out the door.
I had no idea if I would have 50 or 200 patriots -- this was just a blog event. Just a blog event indeed. I hardly expected the line (six feet deep) to grow and grow and snake out through the promenade -- down and through the main lobby. If you are familiar with the Omni Shoreham, you know what I am talking about.
I understand well over two hundred or more were turned away at the door. I did not know. They stopped letting folks in after 500 +, which was the max the room could take. If I had known, we would have opened up another room.
I was working inside the ballroom setting up the space, making my makeshift posters on the posterboard from an expired event, when, like a the roar of a train coming closer, the crowd start cheering outside the doors. I knew what was happening -- Wilders had gotten off the elevator and the crowd was cheering and applauding. Overwhelming.
The place was packed with shiny happy people. My menu was ........ Atlas. Chocolate, strawberries, fresh fruit, sushi, a chocolate fountain (don't ask) and open bar. Wilders talked with everyone in the crowd. He signed autographs, took their pics with him --
There was hardly enough seating from the crowd so everyone was everywhere -- nooks and crannies sitting on cocktail tables, the floor -- wherever they could plant themselves.
They wanted the program to begin so they began to clap -- like a Springsteen concert without the leftardation.
(Photo hat tip Michelina)
I kicked off the presentation with a few short remarks:
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I am Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs [crowd roars - un-friggin-believable]
I want to thank you for joining me and my esteemed colleagues Dr. Andrew Bostom, Robert Spencer and David Horowitz in support of Geert Wilders.
I want to thank you for coming to this historic event. Historic, Atlas? Aren't I overstating it a bit?
No, no, I'm not. This is an historic event because
-TRUTH IS THE NEW HATE SPEECH
-It's historic because showing FITNA and discussing infringement on our free speech is a violation of Muslims' rights according to a complaint filed today by CAIR [boos] with Attorney General Holder. Should be interesting to see how that one plays out with the Obama adminsitration.
-It's historic because free speech, the very cornerstone of our great constitutional republic, is in danger.
Now, being as Amerocentric as we are, why should we care about a politician in Europe? We hate Europe! [crowd cheers]
We must care about this politician because this war is not a nation state war -- this is global, the global jihad. And who will fight it and defend the west? Free men and free women who know how much blood, toil, and hard work it took to get to this point in advanced civilization.
This is not about Geert Wilders. Geert Wilders our surrogate in the trial for the West. He is our proxy. If he loses, you're next.
And why CPAC? Why was I so insistent upon CPAC? This is the largest gathering of conservatives (over 8,000) in the history of CPAC. The biggest! Why? It's not an election year. So why? Because we are in trouble and they know it. We have 8,000 activists out there, 8,000 opportunities squandered. There is not one panel, speaker, or forum on Islamic supremacism, the war, freedom on speech -- just one panel on foreign policy with Frank Gaffney. That's it! Folks don't know their freedom is in peril.
The crowd milling, eating ....lovin life!
Allen West and Wilders in background.
Marine Jack, David Horowitz
Pamela, Evan Sayet, Robert Spencer
Chocolate fountain and strawberries
Before Spencer introduced Wilders -- We jumped on stage and shouted, "It's Robert's birthday!" -- which it was. And the crowd broke into song, "Happy birthday to youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu". Fist pounding the electrified air.
Robert Spencer held up a paper that the Muslims for America group was passing out to people who entered the room. It claimed that Wilders's film Fitna quoted the Qur'an out of context. Robert held up a mainstream Muslim commentary on the Qur'an, the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, and said all right, we will get the context from this book written by Muslims for Muslims -- we will see what they say it means. He went to the commentary on one verse quoted in Fitna, Qur'an 8:60, which directs Muslims to "Arm yourselves against them with all the firepower you can muster..." Robert said that no doubt in context this verse meant to give unbelievers a hug, but then he read from the commentary, which refers to "shooting." Likewise with Qur'an 47:4, which tells Muslims to "strike at the necks" of unbelievers. Robert read from the commentary that this means "kill them," and noted that the commentary went on to tell us that "striking people's necks generally results in their death."
Robert concluded by saying that all this was not hate speech, but was the venerable wisdom of the Religion of Peace -- it only became hate speech when someone like Geert Wilders quoted it. Today, Robert said, all you need to do to be a hero is tell the truth, and yet there are still very few heroes in the world. And he said that one of the foremost of our true heroes, the foremost defender of free speech in our age, was Geert Wilders.
When Robert introduced Wilders - the place exploded - pandemonium! The urbane, erudite soft spoken Wilders was overwhelmed by the response.
- Here's Geert Wilders's speech -- or click on the link below
Pamela, Robert, Andrew, thank you very much for inviting me. And - to the immigration authorities - thank you for letting me into this great country.
It is always a pleasure to cross a border without being sent back on the first plane.
I feel very honored to have the privilege to speak and to show my short documentary Fitna here in this heart of your democracy, here in the US Senate.
Today, the dearest of our many freedoms is under attack all throughout Europe. Free speech is no longer a given. What we once considered a natural element of our existence, our birth right, is now something we once again have to battle for.
As you might know, I will be prosecuted in my own country, because of my film Fitna, my remarks regarding Islam, and my view concerning what some call a ‘religion of peace.’ A few years from now, I might be a criminal. And on top op that The Kingdom of Jordan also threatens to prosecute me for insulting Islam and ask for my extradition.
Whether or not I end up in jail is not the most pressing issue; I gave up my freedom four and a half years ago. I am under full-time police protection ever since because of death threats from Muslims and terrorist groups linked to Al Qaeda.
In the last few years I lived in different safe houses, army-barracks and yes: even prison cells in order to be safe. But it's not about me. The real question is: will free speech be put behind bars? And the larger question for the West is: will we leave Europe’s children the values of Rome, Athens and Jerusalem, or the values of Mecca, Teheran and Gaza?
This is what video blogger Pat Condell said in one of his latest you tube appearances. He says: “If I talked about Muslims the way their holy book talks about me, I’d be arrested for hate speech.” Now, Mr. Condell is a stand-up comedian, but in the video he is dead serious and the joke is on us. Hate speech will always be used against the people defending the West - in order to please and appease Muslims. They can say whatever they want: throw gays from apartment buildings, kill the Jews, slaughter the infidel, destroy Israel, jihad against the West. Whatever their book tells them.
Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake, my prosecution is a full-fledged attack by the left on freedom of speech in order to please Muslims. In fact it was started by a member of the Dutch Labour party.
If you read what the court of Amsterdam has written about me, you read the same texts that cultural relativists produce. In fact, cultural relativism is the worst disease in Europe today. Most of our politicians believe that all cultures are equal. Well let me tell you they are not.
Our Western culture based on Christianity, Judaism and humanism is in every aspect better than the Islamic culture. Like the brave apostate Wafa Sultan said: it's a comparison between a culture of reason and a culture of barbarism.
Back to my country. How low can we go in the Netherlands? About my prosecution, The Wall Street Journal noted: “this is no small victory for Islamic regimes seeking to export their censorship laws to wherever Muslims reside.” The Journal concluded that by The Netherlands accepting the free speech standards of, “Saudi-Arabia,” I stand correct in my observation that - I quote - “Muslim immigration is eroding traditional Dutch liberties.”
Now, if the Wall Street Journal has the moral clarity to see that my prosecution is the logical outcome of our disastrous, self-hating, cultural relativists immigration policies, then why can’t the European liberal establishment see the same thing? Why aren’t they getting at least a little bit scared by the latest news out of, for example, the UK. News that tells that the Muslim population in Britain is growing ten times as fast as the rest of society. Why don’t they care? The answer is: they don’t care because they are blinded by their cultural relativism. Their disdain of the West is so much greater than the appreciation of our many liberties. And therefore, they are willing to sacrifice everything.
The left once stood for women rights, gay rights, equality, democracy. Now, they favor immigration policies that will end all this. Many even lost their decency. Elite politicians in Europe have no problem to participate in or finance demonstrations where Muslims shout “Death to the Jews.” Seventy years after Auschwitz they know of no shame.
Two weeks ago, I tried to get into Britain, a fellow EU country. I was invited to give a speech in Parliament. However, upon arrival at London airport, I was refused entry into the UK, detained for three hours and sent back on the first plane to The Netherlands. The reason: I would threaten community harmony and therefore public security. And all this because of my film, Fitna. An absolute disgrace.
The British Home Secretary even publicly admitted on BBC TV that she never watched my film Fitna but decided to ban from the UK anyway. If I would have been admitted to the UK would have loved to have reminded the audience of a great man who once spoke in the House of Commons. In 1982 President Reagan gave a speech there very few people liked. Reagan called upon the West to reject communism and defend freedom. He introduced a phrase: ‘evil empire.’ Reagan’s speech stands out as a clarion call to preserve our liberties. I quote: If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. What Reagan meant is that you cannot run away from history, you cannot escape the dangers of ideologies that are out to destroy you. Denial is no option.
Ladies and gentlemen, I suggest to defend freedom in general and freedom of speech in particular.
I propose the withdrawal of all hate speech legislation in Europe. I propose a European First Amendment.
In Europe we should defend freedom of speech like you Americans do. In Europe freedom of speech should be extended, instead of restricted. Of course, calling for violence or unjustly yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre have to be punished, but the right to criticize ideologies or religions are necessary conditions for a vital democracy. As George Orwell once said: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
Let us defend freedom of speech and let us gain strength and work hard to become even stronger. Millions think just like you and me. Millions think liberty is precious. That democracy is better than Shariah. And after all, why should we be afraid? Our many freedoms and our prosperity are the result of centuries of endeavor. Centuries of hard work and sacrifice. We do not stand alone.
Ladies and gentlemen, our enemies should know: we will never apologize for being free men, we will never give in. We will never surrender. There is no stronger power than the force of free men fighting for the great cause of liberty. Because freedom is the birthright of all man. Freedom must prevail, and freedom will prevail. Thank you very much.
We screened FITNA, and afterwards I asked folks to please consider donating to the Geert Wilders legal defense fund. Many asked the price of admission and I declined to charge -- but if you had something extra in these harsh financial times, please give something.
The response was moving. Lots of folks gave something. One woman took the watch off her arm and said take it, it was my mother's.
I overhead another say, "it felt like a revival meeting".
This event was unprecedented. I have lived ... a lot, and this is one of the most memorable evenings of my life -- a sentiment shared privately to me in many emails with readers who attended and expressed the same thing.
The individual can make a difference. The blogs are the future.
On a silly note -- no one from Pajamas Media covered it. Funny, no? Think of it. A blogger event that created more buzz, more excitement, more joie, more attendance, and the blogmeister co-op didn't even cover it. I give them two years max. Roger Simon can't get past his ego to do the job right -- unless I am assuming too much and he is incapable of doing the job right.
Atlas and Tancredo - the genius behind the anti-sharia legislation
Some of the above photos were furnished by Pamela Hall
Video - Pamela Hall
UPDATE: Tito the builder tells of his "debate" with a Muslim outside the event handing out propaganda.
UPDATE: Pam Meister over at Family Security Matters covered the event here,
UPDATE: A Salute to the Champions of Liberty Amil Imani
Andrea Shea King was there. Check out her report here.
UPDATE: Occidental caught the birthday surprise moment for Spencer!