I recall concluding that I needed to support the Nazis marching in Skokie, IL back in 1977 on the basis of free speech. I was a college student at the University of Chicago and the debate was hitting close to home on multiple levels, for me as an American and as a Jew. The need to defend the right of free speech in this country was fundamentally important to both identities. I ultimately supported the right of the Nazis to march despite the despicable hate speech they spewed.
So too it is with Pamela Geller. Like the Nazis she too spews a venom of hate. Like the Nazis she has dehumanized her prey and tried to mock their beliefs. Like the Nazis she too has painted her victims as threats to our way of life. And like with the Nazis, I support the right of free speech including Geller’s right to fan flames of hate, bigotry and fear in this country.
We are stronger than Geller or her bile. Her thoughts and actions are both despicable and the world she envisions is more a threat to our way of life than anything she might accuse the Muslim community of perpetrating.
Fortunately most Muslims see her for what she is, a hateful bigot. They mock and dismiss her insults. We, the Jewish community and the entire American community, need to admire and respect their ability to shrug off her offensive rants. Many Muslims in America are much like us. They come here to build a better life for their families based on the ideals of the American system including freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And they live here because this is their home.
When we repudiate the hateful speech and thoughts of people like Geller, we all move forward. We fight her by shining light on her repugnant hate-filled talk, by coming together around our fundamental American values and together declaring there is no place in our society for her loathsome ideas; we are better than that.