Four Of Florida’s Top Politicians Cancel, While Anti-Muslim Mouthpiece Pamela Geller Continues To Roar
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
[Daytona Beach, FL] The brochure and web site proudly displays the fact that three of Florida’s most powerful politicians – Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and U.S. Representative Allen West – were confirmed guest speakers at the event. The downloadable flyer also adds Attorney General Pam Bondi as being “invited” into the mix.
Other major conservative power-players like Andrew Breitbart, Laura Ingraham, Christian political crusader Ralph Reed and a representative from conservative think tank/right-wing message driver The Heritage Foundation are also on the schedule. (It should be noted that The Heritage Foundation – who is co-hosting a debate with CNN in Florida early next year – is a sponsor of the event.)
But a closer inspection of some of the other confirmed names scheduled to appear at The Florida Tea Party Convention 2011 – being held Nov. 4-6 in Daytona Beach at the Volusia County Ocean Center – reveals the participation of one of the most politically extreme individuals to ever have access to a soapbox or a computer keyboard.
A person so controversial that other host sites have pulled out of events featuring this caustic mouthpiece.
The bottom line is that some of them simply have no business rubbing elbows with the likes of Scott, Bondi, Rubio or West. Or so one would think, anyway.
Good thing then that all four have bailed on the event (sort of).
When contacted for a comment on the booking, Gov. Scott’s deputy press secretary Jackie Schutz told Sunshine Slate that, “the governor was invited to attend, but it was not put on his schedule and he will not be attending.”
On the confirmed list of speakers page for The Florida Tea Party Convention
Rubio has also bowed out of the convention, according to sources, although organizers claim he is sending a video. West’s office said he could not fit the Florida Tea Party Convention into his schedule, but that he too would be sending a video.
Jenn Meale from Bondi’s office told Sunshine Slate that the Florida Tea Party Convention “is not on her schedule … she will not be appearing.” When pressed, Meale would not say whether Bondi had ever agreed to show up – she only repeated that wouldn’t be appearing.
Maybe they all got wind of some of the other speakers and decided against it. Or maybe they are just too busy, like everyone says.
Whatever the case, the Florida chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is happy the politicians pulled out of the Tea Party.
“We thank Senator Rubio and Governor Scott for avoiding the false perception that they would in any way legitimize anti-Muslim hatred by appearing at an event featuring hard-core Islamophobes,” said CAIR-FL Tampa executive director Hassan Shibly.
For the record, many right-wingers consider CAIR a radical Islamist group.
False Advertising Or Wishful Thinking?
The Florida Tea Party Convention 2011 website clearly states that Scott and Rubio are one of the “confirmed speakers listed below.” And the downloadable flyer features pictures of Scott, Rubio, Bondi and West. Yet none of them are attending, unless you count video.
According to one of the Florida Tea Party Convention organizers, both Scott and Rubio were planning on attending, but work just got in the way.
“Gov. Scott has been penciled in since Jan. 1,” convention organizer Pamela Dahl told Sunshine Slate. Dahl is well known in Tea Party state circles as the outspoken president of the Tri-County Tea Party, which includes Lake, Marion and Sumter Counties. Dahl says that the politician’s busy schedules kept them from speaking as scheduled.
As for two of the biggest names in the line-up – Rubio and Scott – bowing out, “They’ve called and apologized,” says Dahl.
Bait & switch: The pictured people are the only ones NOT attending the Florida Tea Party Convention
Scheduled To Speak: Pam Geller – “Anti-Muslim” Crusader
When asked about Pamela Geller and her campaign of misinformation and conspiracy theories about Muslims, Islam, President Obama and liberals, Dahl’s response was, “What things aren’t true?”
Dahl then launched into a series of anti-Muslim talking points straight out of Geller’s script. No doubt, Dahl is a fan of Geller. No wonder she was booked.
A religious extremist by most measures, Geller has been dubbed as a member of the “anti-Muslim inner circle” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). In fact, there is a chorus of respected people and organizations who label Geller as “loony,” a “hate-monger” and a spreader of lies.
The progressive checks and balances website Media Matters for America – the arch-nemesis of the conservative mediasphere – summarized Geller as a “demagogue” and her viewpoints as “outrageous, inflammatory.” Chris McGreal of The Guardian, called her “extreme.” The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) considers Geller an “anti-Islam” extremist and “Islamophobe.”
For her part, Geller denies hating Islam, and has stated this repeatedly during interviews. She only hates “political Islam.”
“Interfaith dialogue and mutual respect and mutual understanding is a one-way street with Islamic supremacists, not Muslims,” Geller said in an interview published by The New York Times. “I believe that Muslims are more victimized by Islamic supremacists than even non-Muslims.”
But it is hard to take her at her word when she suggests that Hitler and the Nazis were inspired by Islam, that Muslims engage in bestiality and that Muslim groups control information processing at the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon, and the various branches of the military.
Geller in action during an interview
Her blog, Atlas Shrugs, is filled with hate-driven nonsense and wild unsubstantiated claims. Sure, there are a few truthful nuggets on there, but for the most part, it is sensationalist ranting of the lowest common denominator.
Geller certainly has no business sharing the stage with the likes of a sitting senator, governor, attorney general or congressman.
Surprisingly, Geller’s background is in journalism, more specifically the publishing and marketing of news publications. In the ’80s, Geller handled advertising, marketing and financials at the New York Daily News. From 1989-1994, she was a top-ranking business executive and associate publisher at The New York Observer for five years.
She left the publishing world to stay home to be a mom, eventually launching her Atlas Shrugs blog and co-founding the Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), which has been designated as a hate group by the SPLC.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office even refused to grant SIOA a trademark because it, “refers to Muslims in a disparaging manner … by definition it implies that conversion or conformity to Islam is something that needs to be stopped or caused to cease.”
Volusia County Ocean Center – site of The Florida Tea Party Convention 2011
How bad is Geller?
- Geller’s blog was cited repeatedly by the terrorist responsible for the mass killings in Norway earlier this year
- Geller posted a fake image on her blog of then Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan in a Nazi uniform
- Geller also said that Kagan is “an admirer of an architect of German national socialism, Nazism.”
- Geller posted a fake image on her blog of President Obama urinating on an American flag – similar to this.
- Geller wrote that “[I]t is well known that Obama allegedly was involved with a crack whore in his youth”
- Geller co-founded American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) with Robert Spencer and John Joseph Jay, who named Rabbi Meir Kahane as an inspiration (Kahane is founder of Kach and Kahane Chai, listed as Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the U.S. Department of State)
- John Joseph Jay called for the “Mass Murder of Congressmen, Muslims, Liberals and Journalists“
- John Joseph Jay also called for the killing of all Muslims, saying that “[T]here are no innocent Muslims”
- John Joseph Jay wrote: “buy guns. buy ammo. be jealous of your liberties. and, understand, you are going to have to kill folks, your uncles, your sons and daughters, to preserve those liberties.”
- Geller is a “birther” who has posted “proof” on her blog Atlas Shrugs that Obama’s birth certificate was forged
- Geller’s claims that “Hitler and the Nazis were inspired by Islam,” that Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf is a best-seller in Muslim countries
- Falsely claimed that the President has had Louis Farrakhan over to the White House
- “Obama is a third worlder and a coward. He will do nothing but beat up on our friends to appease his Islamic overlords”
- “President Obama is the “love child” of Malcolm X”
- Geller suggested that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagen supports Nazi ideology
- Geller has mingled with European racists and fascists, and has spoken favorably of South African racists
- Geller defended Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic, even going so far as to deny the existence of Serbian concentration camps in the 1990s
- Geller is a self-avowed Zionist who is sharply critical of Jewish liberals
- Geller called President Obama an anti-semite
- Geller has repeatedly called President Obama a Muslim, which is not true
According to Loonwatch.com, “Geller now claims she never penned the Malcolm X article, and that she doesn’t support the theory that Malcolm X is the father of Barack Obama.” In fact, Geller has had to take down many of her blog posts because of gross inaccuracies.
Again, probably not the type of person you want to share the stage with if you are the governor.
Yes, Geller is free to say whatever she wants, of course. And the Florida Tea Party Convention has no problem with what she says, apparently, or they wouldn’t have scheduled her to speak. In fact, Geller is becoming quite the regular in conservative circles. She was an official blogger for the 2008 Republican Convention.
All roads lead to Florida Tea Party Convention
More recently, The Ground Zero Mosque: Second Wave of the 9/11 Attacks, a film Geller co-produced with Spencer, was screened at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Geller vs. CAIR-FL
In a conversation with Sunshine Slate, CAIR’s Shibly recalled the recent bizarre turn of events involving Geller’s appearance in Daytona Beach. Shibly had called to talk to the convention organizers about Geller’s hate speech, and was expecting the worst.
Instead, he was pleasantly surprised that he ended up talking about how important the First Amendment was.
The conversation ended with Shibly’s group being invited to take the stage to offer their viewpoints as sort of a counter balance to Geller’s platform. Shibly accepted under one condition – that the CAIR representative be treated fairly and with respect, as any other speaker would be treated.
According to Shibly, when Geller heard about CAIR’s involvement, she immediately cancelled her appearance, citing the group’s radical message. So that led to the Florida Tea Party Convention people having to make the not-so-tough decision to cut CAIR loose and get Geller back on the schedule.
The emails the Florida Tea Party Convention organizers sent CAIR show a hostility toward the organization for “not support[ing] her 1st Amendment rights,” yet where is the hostility toward Geller for shutting down CAIR’s free speech?
“It just amazes me that they claim to honor the Constitution and freedom of speech so much and criticize us for ‘infringing’ on free speech, and yet they do the exact same thing,” said Shibly. “I had faith that maybe we could build bridges.”
Shibly points out that allowing Geller to spew her anti-Muslim hatred is much like inviting a KKK speaker to talk about how awful African-Americans are, or an anti-Semite espousing the evils of Judaism.
Neither would be allowed to speak, of course. And if they were allowed to speak, everyone would be (rightfully) up in arms, First Amendment be damned. So why are they tolerating Geller’s misinformed hate speech?
“Apparently, free speech is only protected by the Tea Party if it means inciting hatred against Muslims,” added Shibly.
The Florida Tea Party Convention 2011 website
Council on American-Islamic Relations website
Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs blog
Images: Volusia County Ocean Center, The Florida Tea Party Convention website, YouTube
Florida Tea Party Convention