Bigot or Colorful Activist? Washington Post is Neutral on Islamophobes

This piece originally appeared at the FAIR blog:

The Washington Post (8/18/10) profiles some of the “conservative writers and bloggers critical of Islam” that have been fueling the national uproar over the proposed Muslim community center that would sit two-and-a-half blocks away from Ground Zero.

Michelle Boorstein looks at figures such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, and reports that “while some have dismissed them as bigoted attention-seekers, their attacks on the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan have gained currency in recent weeks among some Republican leaders. And their influence appears to be growing.” So are they bigots? The Post never says.

Here’s Boorstein’s description of Pamela Geller, who publishes Islamophobic rants about Barack Obama and Muslims on her blog Atlas Shrugs daily:

The most colorful — and perhaps most visible activist at the moment — is Pam Geller, a former New York Observer publisher who has appeared in a bikini and a super-tight Superman costume challenging Islam.

Through her blog, Atlas Shrugs, television interviews and appearances at political and civic rallies, Geller has become one of the chief organizers of opposition to the Ground Zero mosque as well as efforts to build other Muslim prayer centers around the country…

Geller has become a prominent voice in the debate despite the fact that she once promoted the view that Obama is Malcolm X’s love child. She frequently warns that Muslims are trying to impose repressive sharia law on the United States, refers to the president’s holiday message to Muslims as “Obama Ramadamadingdong” and promotes a Web site, Religion of Peace, that claims to tally the number of people killed around the world by Muslim extremists.

Geller has also said (Media Matters, 7/14/10) that “it is well known that Obama allegedly was involved with a crack whore in his youth” and has called for the removal of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, one of the most holy sites for Muslims. Geller said: “The dome has got to go. It is sitting atop the great Jewish temple. The dome has got to go. It’s time to push back and stop indulging evil. Evil is made possible by the sanction you give it.” Would the Post describe someone as a “colorful” activist if they had called for the destruction of a Jewish holy site, like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem?

Geller has also posted on her website (Atlas Shrugs, 5/20/10) a picture that replaced the Prophet Muhammad’s face with that of a pig (, 8/4/10). When she was questioned on why that picture was on her site by a host on the English-language Russia TV, Geller responded by saying, “Who cares? What difference does it make?”

Boorstein also writes that “Geller often partners with Robert Spencer, a best-selling writer who is less flamboyant but perhaps more influential.” Spencer publishes Jihad Watch, which has been described as a “notoriously Islamophobic website” (Guardian, 2/7/06). Spencer has compared the Islamic holy book, the Quran, to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf (Human Events, 12/7/05), and thinks that Islam is “innately extremist and violent” (FAIR Smearcasters Report).

But only some people and Muslim-American leaders “accuse the bloggers of fueling religious hatred.” They’re just accusations, of course. Who knows what’s true?

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