Thoughts on Geller’s and Spencer’s new organization
I read last night at Kidist Paulos Asrat’s blog about Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s new organization, the Freedom Defense Initiative. Kidist makes two main points: that the new organization covers the same areas—local activism and defense of freedom—that are already dealt with by Brigitte Gabrielle’s Act for America and by the International Free Press Society; and that FDI seems defensive in its response to Islamization, rather than pro-active. I looked up the organization and read its 23 bulleted point program. Here are my thoughts about it.
At first, one wonders at the fact that FDI (an obvious play on SDI, the Strategic Defense Initiative) has two entirely distinct themes: anti-jihad supremacism, and anti-big government. But, when you think about it, the two fit together. The two major threats to freedom are Islam and the tyrannical liberal state, working together to enslave us, exactly as we see in today’s Europe, for example, in the trial of Geert Wilders, in which the state, functioning izing Islam. So it makes sense to join together these two battles, anti-jihadism and anti-statism.
This gives FDI a philosophical coherence, and I’m impressed by that.
However, the organization’s actual aims vis a vis Islam, notwithstanding the number of bulleted projects, don’t seem to come to very much. Some of the main planks are:
- Local activism against Jihadism—excellent and needed idea (but, as Kidist points out, that’s something that Brigitte Gabrielle’s organization, Act for America, which has tens of thousands of members in local chapters across America, is already addressing).
- Billboard campaigns countering Islamic bill boards. Good. But small scale and strictly local.
- Targeting infiltrators of our federal agencies and seeking their removal—that’s good. An activist organization is definitely needed there.
- Memorials to victims of honor killings. Not that I’m against that, but this “goal” spells just what Kidist pointed out—a defensive reaction to an enemy who is gaining power, while doing nothing to stop him from gaining power.
The stuff about freedom and constitutionalism is more or less standard conservative fare. I’m all for it, but a lot of the bulleted points are vague and general.
So, when it comes to actual anti-Islamization activities, there are some good and needed ideas. The idea of an organization exposing and opposing Islamization at the local level and in the federal government is good. But overall it seems to me that FDI’s goals are strikingly limited.
For example, there’s nothing on anti-Islamization measures that conservative Islam critics often mention, such as shutting down radical mosques. Indeed, there is not a single legal or political measure that this new organization proposes vis a vis Islam.
Most significantly and remarkably, notwithstanding the manifesto’s 23 bulleted points, there is no mention of restricting Muslim immigration. Geller and Spencer see Islam as a mortal threat to our freedom Yet they don’t make even a pro forma proposal to reduce, let alone to stop, Muslim immigration, even though Spencer has in the past proposed doing that. This proves what I have said about him all along: that he talks about immigration occasionally (and very briefly), because he feels he has to, but his heart is not in it.
Here I need to point out that Spencer in the past has repeatedly called me a liar for saying (1) that he had not advocated ending Muslim immigration, and (2) that even when he did advocate it (often in the form of a parenthetical aside), he was not consistent and serious on the issue. Yet now he has formed an organization to defend America from Islamic jihad, and the organization is silent about Muslim immigration. So my long-time criticism of Spencer as unserious about stopping Muslim immigration is definitively proved correct, and his long-time labeling of me as a liar is demonstrated as the lie that it is.
As for Geller, immigration is not on her horizon at all. She believes in FREEDOM. Restricting immigration is for her the opposite of FREEDOM.
Geller and Spencer propose to defend our freedom from Islam. But they say nothing about defending our nation, our civilization, from Islam. Thus, even though they are both “extreme conservatives” by the standards of today’s dominant left-liberalism, in reality they remain within the right-liberal paradigm. Right-liberals identify themselves with abstract universal principles, such as freedom, not with our concrete particular society, culture, and people which is the very basis of that freedom. And because they don’t identify with our concrete society, culture, and people, they cannot grasp the idea that other concrete cultures and peoples can be a threat to our culture and people; and therefore they cannot conceptualize the idea of excluding such alien cultures and peoples from our society.
This new organization tacitly accepts both the presence of Islam in America, and the ever-growing presence of Islam in America. It calls for rear guard actions aimed at preventing the power of Islam from increasing, even as it does nothing to stop the actual increase of the Muslim population in America which makes the increase of the power of Islam inevitable. The plan is inadequate at best, self-defeating and absurd at worst.
This is not an organization with a serious set of goals that would add up to saving America from Islam.
The Freedom Defense Initiative is a new organization launched by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Our 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.
Kidist Paulos Asrat wrote in response to an earlier version of this post that I sent in an e-mail last night:
Yes, I agree that this organization is most likely a Geller initiative. One of the things that struck me was the focus on government. Your analysis is fair, and makes sense. The other way I looked at it is her libertarian positions on most things. Also using the words Freedom and Defense as their organization’s name is very telling.February 19, 1:30 a.m.
Charles T. writes:
You wrote: “As for Geller, immigration is not on her horizon at all. She believes in FREEDOM. Restricting immigration is for her the opposite of FREEDOM. ”LA replies:
But this is the very thing that ideologically consistent right-liberals of all stripes, whatever they may call themselves—liberals, neoconservatives, mainstream conservatives, libertarians, Randians—cannot understand. Not only do they think that our country is defined solely by an abstraction, they also deny that the successful securing of the abstraction (“in order to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men”) depends on any concrete conditions. For them, the abstraction is independent of human qualities and cultures, independent of time and space, independent of material existence.February 21
My last comment was not about Pamela Geller’s ideology as such; it was, of course, a description of the neocon/Bush ideology, which is an especially extreme variety of the right-liberal belief in freedom. As far as I remember, Geller (and I know this is true of Spencer) has not been a supporter of the neocon Bush Democracy Doctrine and therefore would see my suggestion of a connection between her position and the neocon position as absurd. However, notwithstanding their mutual differences, all varieties of right-liberalism have in common the belief in individual rights or freedom as the ultimate reality which transcends material, historical, and cultural realities—which doesn’t just transcend them, but must eliminate them.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 18, 2010 01:40 PM | Send