Politics & Media
May 07, 2015, 08:39AM

The AFDI Is a Hate Group

Depraved indifference in Garland.

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The recent terrorist attack in Garland, Texas never would’ve happened if Pamela Geller and the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization listed as an active anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, hadn’t traveled there to host an anti-Muslim event called the "American Freedom Defense Initiative Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest" in which they showcased drawings and images of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

Geller, a self-professed expert on Islam, referred to the event as a "free speech conference" but more accurately, the competition to see who could draw the best Muhammad, was intended to promote anti-Muslim sentiment and incite a violent reaction. They wanted a violent reaction and they got it. And what did Geller do in the immediate wake of the attack? She appeared on Fox News, calling it a "war” and thrusting AFDI into the limelight. Geller said the AFDI event was in response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre earlier this year in France.

The claim is ludicrous. There is no parallel motive between the goal of AFDI’s exhibit and contest and the satirical magazine’s commentary on religion—which isn’t directed at any single religion. Though criticized by many, Charlie Hebdo's intent isn’t to cause hate and divisiveness, or to incite violence. The AFDI, on the other hand, is a highly dangerous organization made up of right-wing radicals whose sole objective is to wage war on Islam under the guise of freedom and security.

AFDI's website states their objective is “to go on the offensive when legal, academic, legislative, cultural, sociological, and political actions are taken to dismantle our basic freedoms and values.” But what have the American Muslims in Garland or anywhere in this country done to dismantle American freedoms and values?

They exist.

The AFDI’s actions in hosting the Muhammad drawing competition in Garland demonstrated depraved indifference, a wanton lack of regard for the lives and safety of others. Geller and the AFDI defend their reckless behavior citing First Amendment rights but the First Amendment is about protecting Americans from government infringement upon speech, press, religious worship and peaceful assembly. It does not give carte blanche to spew hate rhetoric and wage “war.”

But that’s exactly what Geller and the AFDI are doing—waging war by inciting violence and then sitting back, wrapping themselves in the American flag and Constitution, and proudly proclaiming that they are merely patriots protecting American values. They’re wrong.

—Follow Jessica Clackum on Twitter: @JessicaClackum

  • Finally, someone who understands the constitution Will you please explain to Chris Beck?

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  • The SPLC is an authority because...? Now, of course, anybody who showed Piss Christ must be on the SPLC's list, right? I mean, right? Of course not. Geller invited some Muslims to put on the shoe and wave it around telling us "it fits, see it fits". Which they did. Now, to presume Muslims would do this given sufficient--minimal--provocation presumes they're a bunch of violent nutcases. Geller was giving them a chance to prove that wasn't the case. Win some, lose some. Meanwhile, what are you willing to give up next time a Muslim tells you you've offended him one way or another? Oh, yean. The musical mocking Mormons???? That okay? SPLC have anything to say about that?

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  • Thanks for the comments guys. Listen, I'm a writer, I served my country, I defend the right to free speech. If it weren't for the First Amendment, I could not speak out or write or protest my government. So I value and appreciate it. But all rights come with responsibilities. No, we cannot control every lunatic who will take our words as waging war but ...just like you can't yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theater, you can't intentionally provoke a terrorist attack. Actually, you can but...well...look what happened in Garland. I knew writing this would be a tough one and I expect criticism. This from the person who has on more than one occasion written that as much as I despise their views, the KKK, neo Nazis, etc have a right to speak. So far though, none of those hate groups have provoked a terrorist attack. I guess because the people these hate groups are pissing off are more civilized than the radical nutjobs that believe in cutting off people's heads over an ideology. So...I appreciate the discourse, hopefully it'll keep up in a friendly manner. We're all Americans, we all value free speech and we're all in this together. I don't have an easy answer on how to let groups spew their hate and prevent repercussions. I don't. There isn't an answer to that. But individuals and groups need to take responsibility for their actions. Had that attack in Garland been much worse, hundreds might have died. The terrorists would most surely been the ones responsible but AFDI would've also had blood on their hands as well.

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  • Jessica. So how do you manage the assassin's veto? What are you willing to give up next time a Muslim says you're offending him? How you dress in public?

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  • If a Muslim says I've offended him my reaction would vary depending on the Muslim. If it were one of the few Muslims I know, well those are people I like, who like me, and I'd ask "what did I do to offend you?" and if it's a terrorist telling me I've offended him, I pretty much know that just being an American is enough to offend him. Let me tell you this...life is too short and I've got better things to do than risk my life provoking Muslim terrorists. I can sit here and say "I hate radical Islam" till the cows come home but am I going to go out and start mocking their prophet? No. Why? What's the point? For me, there isn't a point. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. It's just a waste of time.

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  • Jessica. So walking in the mall being dressed the way you like offends some Muslims.... Church bells. Gays. Uncovered hair. This isn't the last thing you'll have to give up. Where will you stop?

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  • Actually, what have I given up? Nothing. Thank you. I'm not buying into the anti-Muslim hype. Sorry. No.

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  • Jessica. I didn't ask what you HAD given up. That is clear, and so your pretense that I did is designed to change the subject. My question was what WILL you give up when told it offends Muslims? Suppose, for example, a couple of Muslims attack a gay wedding. Boy, that would be confusing. Muslims=good guys always being oppressed. Gays=good guys always being oppressed. Who's to blame? Clearly the ones who don't blow up things and cut people's heads off. More convenient. So maybe gays should be a bit more discrete? You know, so as not to be needlessly offensive.

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