Am I wrong to criticize Pamela Geller?

A reader writes about my entries today about Pamela Geller (here, here, and here):

Why make THIS an unwelcome Austeresque moment when there are a plethora of enemies to unleash your considerable talents upon?

LA replies:

I must say that you do not understand. I am a blogger. I comment on interesting and noteworthy things that are happening. Indeed, the mission statement of VFR is:

“The passing scene and what it’s about viewed from the traditionalist, politically incorrect Right.”

Now, I did not create the remarkable O’Donnell-Geller dispute. I did not create Geller’s attack on Christine O’Donnell for her “cowardice.” I did not create Robert Spencer’s article at FrontPage Magazine today complaining about how conservatives are not coming to Geller’s defense, in which he ignores the way Geller has bashed other jihad opponents in the recent past and did not come to their defense when they were called racists. I did not create Geller’s blog entry at her site complaining about how conservatives “eat their own” and fail to defend Pamela Geller. All these remarkable things are happening independently of me. And they are happening today. Today is the time to report them and comment on them, not ten years from now.

Your notion that I should ignore this particular event, or that this is an “Austeresque moment” that I am creating, implies that people on our side must close our eyes and our mouths and our keyboards to anything that has a critical component about Pamela Geller. This is exactly like the Robert Spencer syndrome which I have battled for several years, which says that nothing critical about Robert Spencer should ever be published. The underlying assumption is that Spencer and Geller are sacred persons. (Yes, we know that Spencer and Geller regard Spencer and Geller as sacred persons. But why should the rest of us regard them as such?)

That is not an American way of thinking. It is not a Western way of thinking. It is a conformist and unfree way of thinking. And I am frankly very surprised that you of all people would subscribe to it. The anti-jihad movement is not a political party. It is a collection of individual writers and bloggers. Its vitality depends not on lockstep conformity, but on truthfulness.

So, the test of whether I am doing something wrong in this instance is not: am I being critical of Pamela Geller? No. The test is: are my statements about Geller untrue? Are they unfair? Are they unjust? Are they based, not on facts and reasoned argument, but on emotion? And are they irrelevant to the health and direction of the anti-jihad movement?

I think the answer to all those questions is no. If you disagree, you are free to show why you think my answer is wrong.

Somehow, in your thinking process, there should be all these articles and statements by Geller and Spencer today, and nobody on our side should mention them. Or, if we do mention them, we can only mention them if we side one hundred percent with Geller and Spencer.

Why do you believe in such rules, particularly in relation to me? Am I on the same “team” with Geller or Spencer? No. Are Geller and Spencer special friends of mine, to whom I owe a special debt never to say anything critical of them? No. To the contrary, both of them, especially Spencer, have sought in the past to harm me and make people regard me as a pariah. So I owe them no special consideration.

I don’t owe Geller and Spencer any obligation beyond what I owe to any person about whom I write: the obligation to be truthful, fair, and just. And I believe that what I have written today about Geller is truthful, fair, and just. Morever, if she would heed what I have said about her, she might change her behavior and become a more effective and less self-centered Islam critic who would no longer find herself in situations where she felt compelled to complain about how other conservatives are not coming to her defense.

- end of initial entry -

N. writes:

No, you are not wrong to criticize Geller.

This whole Geller episode appears to me to be yet another example of how modern people confuse criticism of their ideas with criticism of them as a person. Perhaps it is a form of narcissism, in which a person conflates any idea he has with his own, essential, identity.

If that is true, then that would explain why so many public figures essentially are incapable of actually debating anything.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 27, 2010 05:51 PM | Send

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