The NY Times profiles a new American hero for our times:
It is in this genteel setting that Ms. Geller, 52 and a single mother of four, wakes each morning shortly after 7, switches on her laptop and wages a form of holy war through Atlas Shrugs, a Web site that attacks Islam with a rhetoric venomous enough that PayPal at one point branded it a hate site. Working here — often in fuzzy slippers — she has called for the removal of the Dome of the Rock from atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; posted doctored pictures of Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court justice, in a Nazi helmet; suggested the State Department was run by “Islamic supremacists”; and referred to health care reform as an act of national rape.She's just so darned colorful. The fact that she's a twisted, genocidal maniac is just part of her charm, I guess. In fact, she's just an old-fasioned girl, much like one of those cute anti-communist housewives during the Mad Men era.
Ms. Geller has been writing since 2005, but this summer she skyrocketed to national prominence as the firebrand in chief opposing Park51, the planned Muslim community center she denounces as “the ground zero mega-mosque.”
Operating largely outside traditional Washington power centers — and, for better or worse, without traditional academic, public-policy or journalism credentials — Ms. Geller, with a coterie of allies, has helped set the tone and shape the narrative for a divisive national debate over Park51 (she calls the developer a “thug” and a “lowlife”). In the process, she has helped bring into the mainstream a concept that after 9/11 percolated mainly on the fringes of American politics: that terrorism by Muslims springs not from perversions of Islam but from the religion itself. Her writings, rallies and television appearances have both offended and inspired, transforming Ms. Geller from an Internet obscurity, who once videotaped herself in a bikini as she denounced “Islamofascism,” into a media commodity who has been profiled on “60 Minutes” and whose phraseology has been adopted by Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.
I was surprised to learn that her hatred and bigotry is grounded in scholarship and study. Although her rejection of the lunatic neocon Daniel Pipes was most unexpected --- until I read the reason.
IT was 9/11 that drove Ms. Geller to her keyboard. She had barely heard of Osama bin Laden, she said, and “felt guilty that I didn’t know who had attacked my country.”And then she really went nuts:
She spent the next year educating herself about Islam, reading Bat Ye’or, a French writer who focuses on tensions over Muslim immigrants in Europe; Ibn Warraq, the pseudonym for a Pakistani who writes about his rejection of Islam; and Daniel Pipes, whom she ultimately rejected because he believes in the existence of a moderate Islam.
Ms. Geller commented prolifically on Web sites focused on Islamic militancy, like Little Green Footballs. “She was always one of the first ones to start going way out there,” said Mr. Johnson. (Ms. Geller, in turn, dismissed him as “a reviled figure” who had abandoned his principles.) ...
During the Lebanon-Israel war later that year, Ms. Geller video-blogged from an Israeli beach, flicking water at the camera, arching her bikini-bared back provocatively and equating Palestinians with Hamas...
The next turning point for Ms. Geller, a few months later, was a “counter-jihad” conference in Brussels. It threw her — and Mr. Spencer of Jihad Watch — together with anti-Islamic Europeans whom even some allies considered too extreme, like Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang, an offshoot of a Belgian party banned that was for racism and was allegedly founded by Nazi sympathizers.I don't even want to know what "results" she hopes to get next.
Mr. Johnson of Little Green Footballs, a former comrade, attacked Ms. Geller and Mr. Spencer — whose interest in Islam began with family lore about a Greek great-grandfather killed by Turks — for meeting with “neo-Nazis.” They insisted they were not responsible for the views of everyone who stands in a room with them (though they have lobbed similar guilt-by-association accusations at Muslims, including the people behind Park51).
Ms. Geller went on to champion as patriotic the English Defense League, which opposes the building of mosques in Britain and whose members have been photographed wearing swastikas. (In the interview, Ms. Geller said the swastika-wearers must have been “infiltrators” trying to discredit the group.) And she formed a lasting partnership with Mr. Spencer.
It is partly philosophical: They and the anti-Islam movement in Europe share a fear of Muslim takeover. And it is partly practical: He helps her raise money and source some assertions; she helps him spread his ideas and, he said, “get results.”
I've been following Atlas Shrugged since 2005. If anyone would have told me then in five years she'd be heading a national anti-Muslim movement and would be profiled in the NY Times, I would have thought it was a joke. She was always at the very fringe of the hysterical war bloggers, set apart from the worst genocidal hatemongers only by her pulchritudinous crudity. In this insane political period, she's thoroughly mainstream. Wow. Just wow.
h/t to bb