Geller and Spencer cancel premier of film on Geert Wilders because of anti-homosexual statements by the filmmaker

Kidist Paulos Asrat writes:

A group called Christian Action Network (CAN) has made a film about Geert Wilders titled “Islam Rising”. They were to have the premier with Wilders present in Los Angeles on May 1. It looks like the sponsors were Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer (Freedom Defense Initiative).

Well, the premier has been canceled by Geller and Spencer because the filmmaker and founder of CAN, Martin Mawyer, made strong anti-gay statements in the 1990s. Geller and Spencer say they don’t want to be associated with these kinds of statements. This Dutch news source says that Wilders has also pulled out of the premier because of these statements.

Wilders is quoted as having said earlier on, “I totally disagree with [CAN] about this [gay marriage], but they can make a film about me.” But he later changed his mind about associating with the filmmaker.

I was wondering when all this was going to get out in the open. Wilders’s libertarian (I assume that is what he is) views are beginning to collide with traditionalist and Christian, views. I wonder if he is also a feminist, and if that is part of his strong stance against sharia’s treatment of women.

It seems to me that anti-jihad groups have to tighten their fundamental premises to be able to work together.

I personally don’t find the words that Martin Mawyer used particularly offensive. His statement is strong and it is said with some passion. It is also strongly judgmental. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. Here’s a bit of what he has said. Doesn’t Wilders talk with similar judgment about Islam? (Although never about Muslims. I guess that’s the difference.)

LA replies:

I’ve read the Geller-Spencer statement that you linked, and the Mawyer letter copied at Atlas Shrugs that you sent. I thought it would be worse. He writes that Ellen Degeneris

dumped her filthy lesbian lifestyle right in the middle of your living room!! It’s the first time in the history of network TV that the lead character is a sodomite! … they’re trying to brainwash viewers—EVEN CONSERVATIVE, PRO-FAMILY Americans!—into accepting this deviant, disgusting lifestyle as “NORMAL.”

Now that is not my style. I don’t speak that way. But I don’t think it’s wrong. To the contrary, I think such language is part of the way the members of a healthy society would react to the normalization and ascendancy of homosexuality. At the same time, speaking of a person’s “filthy lesbian lifestyle” etc. obviously goes against the kind of speech that is acceptable today.

(In this connection, see my story about the time I was at a social gathering at an Upper West Side Manhattan apartment and said, in a spontaneous comment to my host who spoke of two men living together, “That’s disgusting,” and ended up in a debate which consisted of an entire room full of liberals on one side versus me on the other.)

So what do I think about the Wilders/Geller/Spencer cancellation of their appearance with Mawyer? I don’t know. My tentative response is that if Wilders doesn’t want to associate himself with someone who uses strong language like that, that’s his choice and he should not be criticized for it. But I haven’t thought it all out yet, and we can discuss it further. Also, I see from Wilders’s statement that he supports homosexual “marriage.” That bothers me. At the same time, that is an issue that relates to domestic politics in the Netherlands. It is not part of Wilders’ agenda as an anti-Islamization spokesman. He never brings up homosexuality except to say that among the threats posed by Islam is the persecution and killing of homosexuals, and that this is one of the many reasons to stop the Islamization of the West. Since I don’t know of any conservatives who wants homosexuals to be killed by Muslims, I can’t see what conservatives would have against Wilders’s position.

- end of initial entry -

March 25

Jeanette R. writes:

I just thought I would let you know what happen to me when I made a similar remark as yours about Mawyer to Pam Geller at her Facebook page. She got angry and after a bit of back and forth removed me as one of her “friends” on Facebook. I can no longer see her posts. I simply said that although Mawyer’s rhetoric was over the top, what he wrote was essentially true.

I’m just sick of so called conservatives who aren’t conservative at all. No good will come from supporting the homosexual agenda. The reality it wouldn’t have matter what Mawyer wrote, any criticisms of homosexuals makes one a pariah. There is no healthy society that embraces homosexuality.

LA replies:

But the question is, given how common is support for homosexuality and homosexual rights today, do we bring up our view of homosexuality with people with whom we agree on some other important issue, if bringing it up will lead to them ending their relationship with us? Similarly, do we make disapproval of homosexuality a litmus test for deciding with whom we will cooperate? I would say that if the other person makes advocacy of homosexual rights front and foremost, that’s a problem. But if, like Wilders, all he says about homosexuality is that one of the reasons to oppose Islamization is that Islam threatens to persecute and kill homosexuals, then I think that that is not a problem. He may take stronger positions on the subject of homosexuality when speaking within the context of Dutch politics, but (1) that’s a mainstream position in the Netherlands, and (2) it’s not our concern. Wilders is not going around in America and Britain and other countries advocating homosexual rights, other than as one thing on a list of several things that are threatened by Islam.

Jeanette replies:

I have no problem with Wilder’s point of view. I am annoyed that what ones says about homosexuality has become a litmus test.

Lydia McGrew writes:

My disagreement with Geller and Spencer comes from the fact that they have made it, to my mind, pretty clear that they will not make a coalition with vocal, organized, anti-homosexual-agenda conservatives against jihad. Their statement on the cancellation said, inter alia,

In standing for human rights in this way, we consider it of utmost importance that our message not be clouded by other agendas[.]

You said (presumably with reference to Wilders)

Similarly, do we make disapproval of homosexuality a litmus test for deciding with whom we will cooperate?

But remember: the Christian Action Network isn’t disassociating from Wilders because of his views on the homosexual agenda! They, despite their social conservatism, are not making that a litmus test. It is Wilders, Geller, and Spencer (and especially Geller and Spencer) who are making a litmus test. To whit: They will not cooperate in opposing jihad with an organization that has as another part of its mission a strong and vocal opposition to the homosexual agenda.

With that, I strongly disagree.

Now, I should be fair. Robert Spencer attempts to say that it was merely the specific rhetoric in the letter that led to the cancellation. Here is his post to that effect. Here is the question: Suppose that Mawyer had written about the dangers of the homosexual agenda, about their attempt to normalize their unbiblical lifestyle, and the like, but in a somewhat less strident manner. I must admit that given this cancellation, and given the statement about not wanting their opposition to jihad “clouded with other agendas,” I find it pretty hard to believe that they would make or continue an association with Mawyer’s group. [LA replies: Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that Mawyer had used my kind of language on this issue, saying that homosexual conduct is wrong, is destructive to society, and should not be normalized, instead of saying that homosexuality is “disgusting,” “dirty,” “filthy,” etc. Would Geller/Spencer/Wilders still have dissociated from him? I don’t know the answer, but it’s possible, as Spencer says, that they would have tolerated him if his language were less strident and insulting.]

This fits also with various posts on Jihad Watch about, for example, a Muslim taxi driver who told a homosexual couple to get out of his taxi when they were hugging and kissing in the taxi. You know I’m an extremely strong opponent of Islam, but on this one, I’m inclined to agree with the taxi driver.

I say this as someone who thinks very highly of the work that Robert Spencer does. I’m not urging that no one make common cause with Spencer! I’m very glad he’s there. But I disagree with the trend to make common cause with homosexuals against jihad while distancing himself from and refusing to make common cause with the opponents of the homosexual agenda who are also anti-jihad. This seems to me wrong on principle (since Spencer is himself a Christian and presumably opposes the homosexual agenda as well) as well as very poor strategy.

LA replies:

As far as one can discern, Spencer is a Christian only in the sense of a Christianity that is completely conformable with modern liberalism. That is, he does not speak of Christianity as part of the nature of our society or as having anything to do with our society, but instead repeatedly and devotedly describes our society as “secular.” And when, on one occasion, he did acknowledge that Christianity had something to with the origins of America, he immediately reverted to calling America secular. His leading ideals and phrases are standard liberal ideals and phrases, such as “the equal dignity of all human beings.”

See a November 2004 entry at VFR on this subject, in which Spencer posted comments, before he declared that the issue wasn’t worth discussing and decamped. He simply didn’t grasp that it was problematic for a conservative to keep speaking of our society as “secular,” a description that no one used before very recent decades. I thought our self-understanding, especially if we are conservatives, let alone Christian conservatives, is that we are a nation under God.

The funny thing, Wilders is a self-described liberal, yet I strongly support him. So the fact that someone is a liberal doesn’t prevent me from supporting him. Yet Spencer took my argument that he, Spencer, is a liberal as a “calumny” on him, to which he responded by launching a campaign of personal attacks aimed at discrediting and marginalizing me. In fact, all I was doing was seeking truth in packaging.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 24, 2010 11:41 PM | Send

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