In an age where the blackhole of Islamophobia threatens to engulf reasonable discourse, the Park51 proposal is undoubtedly its singularity. The mere mention of a possible Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York City whips the right wing into apoplectic rants about Muslim Nazis and “spooky mosques” that create a “hot bed” for militants.
Manipulating visceral prejudices into a national platform, no right-wing fringe figure has succeeded more in turning hyperbole into a career than conservative blogger and “provocateur” Pamela Geller. Leading the anti-Park51 rallies in New York this September, Geller’s once-fringe vitriol has earned her a national spotlight, a place among mainstream conservatives, and now, an award named after Annie Taylor — the first American to survive a trip over the Niagara Falls — for “her efforts in defense of Judeo-Christian civilization.” Never missing an opportunity to elevate her incendiary rhetoric, Geller used her acceptance speech at David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend conference last Friday to claim that not only is the proposed center a “triumphal mosque,” it is “the second wave of the 9/11 attack“:
GELLER: You have to understand that we’re in a war. We are at war now. It’s not coming. It’s not around the corner. We’re at war now. The GZM is the second wave of the 9/11 attack.…We are under attack. Obviously, the violent jihad, the academic jihad, the sociological jihad, the cultural jihad, the academic jihad, we have been infiltrated at the senior level of the DOD. …This is not a conventional war. Each one of you must fight this war…you’re each activated….We have not yet recovered the bodies from 9/11 and we’re under attack with ground zero mega mosque. And make no mistake, Cordoba, iconic of Islam’s conquering of the West, it’s quite deliberate….It’s a triumphal mosque. Because one shmuck in New York says “it’s a mosque of healing” doesn’t make it so. It’s ridiculous, it’s insulting.
Watch her speech:
This thoughtless comparison appears to be a new rallying cry for Geller. Reacting to news that Park51 applied for federally-funded grants, Geller called the request the “latest Islamic attack on the American people in the second wave of the Ground Zero mosque.”
Hearing the pied piper, many other GOP lawmakers like Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) and Rep. Pete King (NY) followed suit, declaring the application “outrageous” and an “affront to all those who were murdered on 9/11.” Unfortunately, while her rhetoric wreaks havoc on civil discourse and tolerance, there is no indication that she will stop. As her Muslim-bashing ally Robert Spencer pointed out, “even Annie Taylor said nobody should ever do that again. But the winner of this award keeps on doing it.”