'Stay quiet and you'll be okay:' Mark Steyn on Pamela GellerMark Steyn.
I'll have more to say about the elections in the days ahead, but for now let me offer a whole-hearted good riddance to Ed Miliband, the now departed Labour leader who, in a desperate last-minute pander, offered to "outlaw Islamophobia". That was the British political establishment's contribution to a rough couple of weeks for free speech, culminating in the attempted mass murder in Garland, Texas.
That's what it was, by the way - although you might have difficulty telling that from the news coverage. The Washington Post offered the celebrated headline "Event Organizer Offers No Apology After Thwarted Attack In Texas", while the Associated Press went with "Pamela Geller says she has no regrets about Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest that ended in 2 deaths". The media "narrative" of the last week is that some Zionist temptress was walking down the street in Garland in a too short skirt and hoisted it to reveal her Mohammed thong - oops, my apologies, her Prophet Mohammed thong (PBUH) - and thereby inflamed two otherwise law-abiding ISIS supporters peacefully minding their own business.
It'll be a long time before you see "Washington Post Offers No Apology for Attacking Target of Thwarted Attack" or "AP Says It Has No Regrets After Blaming The Victim". The respectable class in the American media share the same goal as the Islamic fanatics: They want to silence Pam Geller. To be sure, they have a mild disagreement about the means to that end - although even then you get the feeling, as with Garry Trudeau and those dozens of PEN novelists' reaction to Charlie Hebdo, that the "narrative" wouldn't change very much if the jihad boys had got luckier and Pam, Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer and a dozen others were all piled up in the Garland morgue.
If the American press were not so lazy and parochial, they would understand that this was the third Islamic attack on free speech this year - first, Charlie Hebdo in Paris; second, the Lars Vilks event in Copenhagen; and now Texas. The difference in the corpse count is easily explained by a look at the video of the Paris gunmen, or the bullet holes they put in the police car. The French and Texan attackers supposedly had the same kind of weapons, although one should always treat American media reports with a high degree of skepticism when it comes to early identification of "assault weapons" and "AK47s". Nonetheless, from this reconstruction, it seems clear that the key distinction between the two attacks is that in Paris they knew how to use their firepower and in Garland they didn't. So a very cool 60-year-old local cop with nothing but his service pistol advanced under fire and took down two guys whose heavier firepower managed only to put a bullet in an unarmed security guard's foot.
The Charlie Hebdo killers had received effective training overseas - as thousands of ISIS recruits with western passports are getting right now. What if the Garland gunmen had been as good as the Paris gunmen? Surely that would be a more interesting question for the somnolent American media than whether some lippy Jewess was asking for it.
In Copenhagen, in Paris, in Garland, what's more important than the cartoons and the attacks is the reaction of all the polite, respectable people in society, which for a decade now has told those who do not accept the messy, fractious liberties of free peoples that we don't really believe in them, either, and we're happy to give them up - quietly, furtively, incrementally, remorselessly - in hopes of a quiet life. Because a small Danish newspaper found itself abandoned and alone, Charlie Hebdo jumped in to support them. Because the Charlie Hebdo artists and writers died abandoned and alone, Pamela Geller jumped in to support them. By refusing to share the risk, we are increasing the risk. It's not Pamela Geller who emboldens Islamic fanatics, it's all the nice types - the ones Salman Rushdie calls the But Brigade. You've heard them a zillion times this last week: "Of course, I'm personally, passionately, absolutely committed to free speech. But..."
And the minute you hear the "but", none of the build-up to it matters. A couple of days before Garland, Canadian Liberal MP (and former Justice Minister) Irwin Cotler announced his plan to restore Section 13 - the "hate speech" law under which Maclean's and I were dragged before the Canadian "Human Rights" Commission and which, as a result of my case, was repealed by the Parliament of Canada. At the time Mr Cotler was fairly torn on the issue. We talked about it briefly at a free-speech event in Ottawa at which he chanced to be present, and he made vaguely supportive murmurings - as he did when we ran into each other a couple of years later in Boston. Mr Cotler is Jewish and, even as European "hate" laws prove utterly useless against the metastasizing open Jew-hate on the Continent, he thinks we should give 'em one more try. He's more sophisticated than your average But boy, so he uses a three-syllable word.
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