Pamela Geller is a rather vocal critic of Islam, and that is fine of course because no idea should be immune to criticism or scrutiny, but as you might imagine, her name is one that invokes a considerable degree of outrage amongst some Muslims.
There is a rather popular myth that she is a racist who specifically hates Muslims, but the ever so tiny flaw with that claim is the rather obvious observation that islam is not actually a race at all, but is actually a religious idea that has people from almost every variation of humanity within it. It might have been a criticism that held water if she specifically targeted people for simply holding a specific belief – Islam – but that also is simply not a factual claim because quite clearly her target is primarily political Islam and radical Islam.
If curious to understand what makes her tick and what drives her, then you might indeed find the following New York Times article an interesting read, and least you wonder, no I’m not a fan, and neither is the article at that link. She does of course get some things right, but rather sadly gets rather a lot wrong.
Empire State Building
OK, so when I say that all ideas are on the table for criticism or scrutiny, I really do mean all ideas, and that includes hers. There is a rather bizarre article within which she appears to be a tad upset that the Empire State Building (ESB) lit up green lights for the islamic festival of Eid.
Now before we get into that, let me explain. The ESB has a tradition of lighting up its tower lights in various colours to recognize various occasions and organizations throughout the year, and so on Jul 17 they were green for Eid. If curious to see what they light up for, then you can find their calendar here, and yes other religious days such as Chanukah, Easter and Christmas get equal treatment. You also find Halloween makes the list and that no doubt upsets lots of Christians.
Not one day – not twenty-four hours after the Chattanooga jihad mass murder – the symbol of American individualism, capitalism, and the capital of the world, the Empire State Building, one of the foremost symbols of American freedom, celebrated the Muslim “holiday” of Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. Ramadan is the most violent month of the year in the Islamic world, because Ramadan is the month in which Muslims renew their devotion to Allah, and violent jihad is a supreme act of devotion to Allah.
All told, 2,988 people were shot, burned, blown up, beheaded, or hacked to death in the cause of Islam during this “holy” month, with 3,696 wounded, beating last year’s savage human toll of 2,429, with 2,028 wounded. This is not political correctness; this is sharia adherence. Wherever your sympathies may lie, the idea that the Empire State Building would turn green for Eid not a day after five U.S. soldiers were murdered in cold blood in the cause of Islam on American soil is surrender. We have indeed been conquered.
There are several fundamental flaws here …
- She appears to be treating Islam as one large unified group – but it is not, and is of course like most beliefs a vast collection of distinctly different conflicting variations of belief, some of which are violent and some of which are not
- The fact that some variations of islamic belief have indeed been violent is not in any way related to the beliefs of all of the 1.4 billion humans on the planet who happen to hold a specific belief for cultural reasons, most of whom are decent honourable humans who wish no harm to anybody.
- // this is sharia adherence // – Call me a tad picky if you like, but I’m not aware of green lights being a “sharia” rule within any variation of Islam
- // We have indeed been conquered // – er …. no.
In the end the ESB is a privately owned building, and so if they opt to light up the building in order to celebrate Eid, the easter bunny, or the tooth fairy, then best of luck to them with that because it really is none of our business.
The beauty of the freedom that prevails is this … the owners of the ESB get to light up their building for any reason they want, PG gets to deploy daft criticism of their choices, I get to deploy criticism of her truly daft claim, and everybody else gets to roll their eyes and ignore all the fuss.
There are of course lots of bad ideas within Islam, hence the atrocities we observe from the various strands of Islamic thought that embrace such bad ideas as literal truth. If you sat down and attempted to compose a list of Islamic ideas that truly do warrant and justify criticism because they are morally wrong, then you would quickly discover that the concept of lighting up a building with green lights in recognition of a cultural festival is something that could never be justified for a place on such a list – and that essentially is the fundamental problem with this claim.
What is perhaps also a tad ironic in some ways is the observation that her article that objects to the ESB lighting up with green lights has a picture of the ESB lighting up with green lights and so has in many ways exposed this celebration of Eid to a far wider audience than the building ever did.
The use of the word Eid is slightly misleading, it is a word that simply means “festival” or “holiday” in Arabic and so can refer to any holiday and not a specific holiday. In this case the specific one is actually Eid al-Fitr and that means festival of breaking of the fast”