Maybe in this cowed and cowardly age, the denouement was inevitable: on Wednesday night, the Great Neck Synagogue on Long Island canceled a speech by Pamela Geller that had been scheduled for Sunday. This was after Islamic supremacists, led by one Habeeb Ahmed of the Nassau County Human Rights Commission, and Leftists mounted a large-scale campaign of defamation of Geller in the media and intimidation of synagogue officials through private channels. It is bad enough that it was done. It is even worse that it succeeded.
This ugly little affair in Great Neck closely parallels my own recent experience. I had been scheduled to speak on March 16 at a Catholic Men’s Conference in Worcester, Massachusetts, but after a Leftist reporter at the Boston Globe and a local Muslim leader who is an open supporter of a convicted jihad terrorist raised a controversy, Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester cancelled my appearance. He also subsequently ignored my repeated requests for a meeting to clear my name, as well as a petition that garnered over 3,000 signatures, asking that he reinstate my talk.
In his only public statement on the matter, McManus spoke of “concern” that “Mr. Spencer’s talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.” In other words, to discuss the Muslim persecution of Christians might offend the Muslims here who profess to oppose that persecution. The bishop did not explain why they would be offended by an honest discussion of something they claim to oppose.
Great Neck Synagogue officials were not as craven as McManus, who added that an honest discussion by me of the real atrocities committed by Muslims in the name of Islam around the world might “generate suspicion and even fear of people who practice piously the religion of Islam” – thereby repeating the Islamic supremacist smear that my work for the defense of Constitutional freedoms somehow endangers innocent people.
By contrast, the synagogue leaders acknowledged none of the intense barrage of lies great and small about Pamela Geller that had been sent their way since the controversy was ginned up. Rather, they ascribed the cancellation to the determination that it would be “irresponsible to jeopardize the safety of those who call Great Neck Synagogue home, especially our children, even at the risk of diverting attention from a potentially important voice in the ongoing debate.”
Nonetheless, the outcome is the same: the precedent is reinforced that smear campaigns work, and that all the foes of freedom have to do in order to shut down any voices opposed to them is mount a campaign simultaneously vilifying and demonizing their targeted speaker and showing the host the price he will have to pay for featuring the target. As Saul Alinsky said, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it.” His thuggish children and heirs are doing just that: picking off the defenders of freedom one by one, isolating, demonizing and marginalizing them, and making people who stage and host speakers afraid to invite them, for fear of the firestorm that is certain to ensue.
Their capitulations, however, only make more such firestorms inevitable. And so while it is understandable that no one wants to face them, and no one wants a media frenzy around what was supposed to be a quiet event, the more people cave in to them, the worse it is going to be for everyone else. For the enemies of free speech and the enablers of jihad terror aren’t just targeting Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer: they’re going after anyone and everyone who dares to utter a truthful word about the global jihad and Islamic supremacism. No one is spared, and no one will be spared – not even those who repeat politically correct niceties about how the Religion of Peace has been hijacked. The crocodile will eat them as well, even if it eats them last.
If host organizations and institutions in the United States realized what was at stake, they would be inundating Pamela Geller with speaking invitations right now. And when the Leftists and Islamic supremacists began their smear and intimidation campaigns, they would show themselves resolute, determined, and immovable.
But this is not an age of iron. It’s an age of jelly. And so the order of the day will be more intimidation, more threats, and more defamation directed against anyone who speaks out against the jihad and Islamic supremacism, and anyone who dares to host that speaker. Until finally, there is no one left to speak out, no one at all.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Not Peace But A Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam, is now available.