Political blogger Pamela Geller, American Freedom Defense Initiative's Houston-based founder, speaks at the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest, which is sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, in Garland, Texas on May 3, 2015. Two gunmen opened fire on Sunday at the art exhibit in Garland, Texas, that was organized by an anti-Islamic group and featured caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad and were themselves shot dead at the scene by police officers, city officials and police said. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Mike Stone  *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-LAWRENCE-COLUMN, originally transmitted on May 6, 2015.

Political blogger Pamela Geller, American Freedom Defense Initiative’s Houston-based founder, speaks at the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas, on Sunday (May 3, 2015). Two gunmen opened fire outside the building that evening and were shot dead by police, city officials and police said. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Mike Stone
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-LAWRENCE-COLUMN, originally transmitted on May 6, 2015.

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

(RNS) Can poetry be an antidote to poison? Can it provide an alternative to the jihad of Pamela Geller?

A life without His love is nothing but slow death.
The sum total of love is but three words:
I-burn, I-burn, I-burn.

These verses come from the 13th-century whirling dervish, Rumi. The fire that burns also gives life in the logic of love-induced immolation that Muslims call Sufism. Its opposite is the fire that comes from the end of a gun barrel or a detonated bomb that takes a life; such is the logic of hate-induced terror that some Muslims call jihad.

For true Sufis, the first fire is the only fire, since it requires the greater struggle, also known as jihad (jihad al-akbar): to conquer one’s self.

For Geller, as for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it is only the second fire that matters. Jihad takes but one form: warfare in the name of Allah. The God of Islam produces hate, not love. His fire brings horror rather than hope: Its flames neither thrill nor elevate; they only kill and decimate.

In 2015 we witness a growing imbalance of imagery, perception and practices of Allah sweeping across the Atlantic, from Western Europe to North America. Charlie Hebdo inaugurated the New Year with death and carnage in Paris, then Copenhagen. There was no immediate copycat in the U.S. till  the shootings in Garland, Texas, last week.

Not that negative sound bites about Islam have been absent. Hirsi Ali’s latest screed, “Heretic,” received more than the expected favorable features and reviews from Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. An alluring presence, Hirsi Ali is shy on facts but near perfect in affect: Time and again she says nothing with a convincing smile; her acolytes applaud.

Geller, by contrast, imitates the French extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen. No smiles, just grimaces; the more outrageous the claim, the more tenacious its defense. In 2009 she opposed a mosque project for Ground Zero.

When Muslims “pray five times a day,” she bellowed, “they’re cursing Christians and Jews five times a day.” One of the 2012 Washington subway posters she sponsored read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

What is missing in these made for media histrionics is the Allah of history, etched in the Quran and replete in the lives of everyday Muslims, from Arabia to America, across Africa, Asia and also Europe. The Allah of piety and poetry, of table talk and critical life decisions, is also the Allah defined, above all, by mercy. The opening words of the Quran announce: In the Name of God, the All Merciful, Always Merciful.

While echoes of that Allah resound through the corridors of time and in the daily acts of millions of Muslims, they have been drowned out in 2015 by provocateurs — first Charlie Hebdo terrorists, and then the respondents to Geller’s parlor game in Garland. Hers is a charade of free speech, a mockery of democratic values. If ISIS hates the West, Geller provides its mirror image: hatred of Islam.

Recently a New York court allowed her to continue to garnish buses and subways with a poster that read: “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah. That’s His Jihad. What’s yours?”

If it weren’t so incendiary, it would be ludicrous, but its consequences are far from funny. It’s important to distinguish true Islam from Geller’s barbs, but also her assault from Hirsi Ali’s.

One can disagree with Hirsi Ali in a civil forum. While she panders to a level of fear about Islam and Muslims, at home and abroad, she also tries to reconstruct the “good” Muslim as part of humanity.

There is no humanity in those whom Geller decries. They are subhuman beasts, worthy of any assault, whether a punitive police or all-out military action. Jihad for Geller can never encompass the self-denying, ever-burning Sufi adept. Jihad is only and always the blinkered savages who hate us; they use jihad as both instrument and pretext for endless war. Hers is a responsive jihad, to equal their hate with her hate, matching their physical violence with her verbal violence.

Bruce B. Lawrence is Emeritus Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University and author of the forthcoming "Who is Allah?" UNC Press. Photo courtesy of Bruce B. Lawrence

Bruce B. Lawrence is emeritus professor of Islamic studies at Duke University and author of the book “Who Is Allah?” Photo courtesy of Bruce B. Lawrence

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

There is more than a minor difference between free speech badly performed and public space consciously subverted. Hirsi Ali upholds free speech yet undermines its practice, never granting her opponents a grain of truth. Geller, however, has made as her modus operandi the repeated abuse of public space for dissemination of her vitriolic message.

The true lovers of Islam, like Rumi, twist and turn, twirl and burn for Allah. The free-speech jihadis, led by Geller, fume and bluster, excoriate and desecrate. Absent love, they lust for fame, to see their names in headlines yet again, a trophy of ill gain, their only glory but a fleeting fantasy.

(Bruce B. Lawrence is emeritus professor of Islamic studies at Duke University and author of the book “Who Is Allah?”)



  1. One has to bear in mind Pamela Geller does not seek to end the violence of Islamcism. She merely seeks to profit off opposing it. Nothing she does is remotely helpful for those seeking an end to Islamicist violence.

    Her actions sustain Islamicism in a feedback loop. By epitomizing the west of ISIS propaganda as seeking to wipe Islam out, she provides support for the terrorists. As the terrorists commit violence, it sustains Geller’s narrative, which then comes back to supporting the ISIS narrative. Geller is the best employee ISIS never hired.

    That being said, there is no justification for violence in the name of religion. There is also no justification for suppressing speech out of fear or for being inflammatory. You have a right to make a fool of yourself in public with expressions of hate. Its not an intelligent or civil thing to do, but it is your right.

    • trytoseeitmyway

      She is PROTESTING the violence of Islamicism. She is CALLING ATTENTION to the violence of Islamicism. She is also pointing the finger at fools who think that the right response to a bully is to be quiet and hope he doesn’t notice you.

      • @trytoseeit,

        I agree.

        Religions are just ideas about reality – people change their minds about their ideas – just as they change religions.
        If some ideas are allowed to be treated as if they are above reproach, the USA will lose its Constitution.

        The proper response to a bully who commands your obedience is to stick it to him with a mocking laugh track.

      • No. She is protesting all of Islam. She is far from being so specific as to refer to Islamicism. She is in fact claiming Islamicism speaks as the legitimate voice of the entire faith. The same claims as ISIS and Al Queda!

        She is a fear monger who is trying to incite hysteria just on the right side of avoiding a pogrom. It is very lucrative for her. There is always an appeal to blanket prejudices and organized hysterics.

        She has every right to do what she does. I have every right to voice my opinion on it as well. Neither of us have a right to act violent in response.

        • The only ones who were fear mongers on that day were the moslems who showed up with Ak-47’s looking to mass murder. I suppose you think that’s not their fault, Larry? I suppose you think it was an understandable response to all those cartoons which were scaring moslems? You seem to believe that they are not to held to account for their own actions. Is that what you think, Larry?

      • Pamela Geller is a living example of the power of hatred. The problem is that hatred always destroyed. Jesus said to us, “How can you love God whom you have not seen, if you hate your neighbor?” Pamela has taken a religion that most of us know little about, and distorted it to make the extremists out to be mainline Islam. EVERY religion has its people on the fringe, with those who take the vocabulary of a religion and distorts it for their use. We do not accept that neo-Nazism, which often uses “Christian” images to support their hatred, so does much of white supremacy. Many of the settlers, and the ultra orthodox who drive Israel to distraction are not mainline Judaism.

        We are seeing what the west encountered in the 17th century. The century after the Reformation was one of the bloodiest in European history. Islam is being confronted with a different civilization, and the “clash of civilications” which an islamic scholar titled his book, is real.

        (see next…

        • We as Americans need to do some things:

          1. LEARN about Islam. the “jihadis” are the fundamentalists who are distorting Islams teachings for their own purposes. Extend good will to Muslims who live a religion that is rich in history, in mercy and in family, and who merely want to live their lives as we do, in peace.

          2. Understand that it will take time for East and West to find their ways. It took the west centuries–it won’t take that long in this clash, partly thanks to communications. But it may still take a generation or two. Be a positive in asserting that this is a valuable effort, and support it.

          3. Not only stand against jihadis, but stand against those like Geller and ali, who are poking a sharp stick into people’s eyes. Does anyone remember how angry people were with the “piss Jesus” “art” a few years ago? Geller’s “draw cartoons of the Prophet” is nothing else but the equivalent.

          I was a military intelligence officer during Desert Storm…

        • @Calsailor,

          “stand against those like Geller and ali, who are poking a sharp stick into people’s eyes…”

          Oh stop it!
          Cartoons are nothing to get excited about.
          I you can’t handle a cartoon you need psychological help.

          • Oops. My bad, Max.

            I hit Report instead of Reply.

            I would amplify your comment by noting that CHRISTIANS ramped up the eternal punishment thing (JESUS didn’t say anything we conclusively know of. Everything was written down decades after “his” death by the cult leaders). Eternal love means eternal torment. Something, we are told, is true of the vile Allah as well.

        • So please explain to everybody, CalSailor, how exactly did Pamela Geller distort Islam and make extremists out of those two men who showed up with assault rifles looking to kill a few hundred people because of a cartoon exhibition? Please tell us all the chain of events that lead to them believing that that was the right thing to do. We’re waiting.

        • CalSailor said:

          “Pamela Geller is a living example of the power of hatred. ”

          She is very clear she does not hate muslims. She hates jihad and sharia (which are not people but ideologies). Knowing the victims of jihad and sharia: Yazidis in mesopotamia, girls in nigeria, christians in iraq, syria and egypt, etc,etc,etc Who would not hate jihad?

          You are putting stuff out there which is slander. Like if I say Calsailor hates the victims of jihad.

    • She did a great deal to end the violence of Islam with this cartoon exhibit. It’s got a whole lot of people talking about Islam and quite a number asking: What exactly is in those Islamic texts that drives young men to murder over a bunch of cartoons? And in a bunch of different countries, so it’s hardly an isolated incident. Maybe we should actually take a look at what Islam actually says instead of a bunch of people trying to shut down the conversation. Or, like Larry does, try and demonize the person who is starting the honest conversation which really, really needs to be started.

    • Larrry said:

      “One has to bear in mind Pamela Geller does not seek to end the violence of Islamcism. She merely seeks to profit off opposing it. Nothing she does is remotely helpful for those seeking an end to Islamicist violence. ”

      This is very condescending, How does Larry know the motives of PG. I think she would take a world where the violence of islamicism ends but according to Larry that is not the case. Bringing attention to the violence is the first step in ending it so she’s doing something to end the violence (perhaps she’s seeking to end the violence by bringing attention to it). Profit according to Larry is to have a fatwa on your head. What she does is a very helpful first step in seeking to end violence.

    • Larry said:

      “Her actions sustain Islamicism in a feedback loop. By epitomizing the west of ISIS propaganda as seeking to wipe Islam out, she provides support for the terrorists. As the terrorists commit violence, it sustains Geller’s narrative, which then comes back to supporting the ISIS narrative. Geller is the best employee ISIS never hired. ”

      This is extremely obtuse. If PG did not exist, jihadis would still present themselves as victims of the West. Not to mention illogical. If she’s the best employee that isis has, why did they put a fatwa on her head? The isis people have to be respected as people that decide what to do without needing the influence of any Westerner. Larry is one of those bigots of low expectations. They are violent by nature and it’s because of someone in the West (PG). They cannot be civilized, they are like children that react to what the West does and not to their internal religious logic.

  2. I think Geller is on a dangerous road with her over the top displays of anti-Islamic rhetoric, but worry more that some Americans will say “she deserved it”, if she is murdered. She does not deserve it. We have free speech, she is saying what we privately think, and no one need live in fear in America.

    • Are you kidding me? Why would Islamicists want to murder Pamela Geller? She is doing half the work for them.

      All ISIS has to do is say, “look at Pamela Geller! She is an example of what the West says about Islam! They want to wipe us out entirely as a faith! We must defend ourselves! Join us and strike back!”.

      In all honesty, I think most of their recruiting in Iraq and Syria amounts to, “look we have nice shiny weapons and loads of cash. Join us and you can get away with whatever nasty crap you want.”

      • trytoseeitmyway

        You’ll probably be saying that right up until he body shows up at the morgue.

          • Oooh scary!!! But I doubt they are going to kill their American golden goose.

            Pamela Geller hardly represents a threat to Islamicism in any way, shape or form. Terrorism and extremism feed off of atrocity and overreaction. She is one of the most reliable supporters of Islamicist extremism out there.

            Now if she talked about the necessity of democratization and secularism for the Middle East, she would be dangerous to them. She would also get tons of support from all around the “Islamic” world.

            But there isn’t as much money or fame in that. Hate sells.

      • trytoseeitmyway

        So just to be clear, the “atrocity and overreaction” off of which terrorism was feeding on September 11, 2001, was … what exactly? Please tell us. The “atrocity and overreaction” off of which terrorism was feeding at the time of the Charlie Hebdo massacre was … what exactly? Please tell us? On your view, that massacre never took place because obviously that publication was helpful to the terrorists’ cause. Yet, there are the dead bodies. And all you can say about that, you pathetic weasel, is “ooo, scary.”

        • Way to burn those strawman trytoseeit. Did I say terrorism was caused by atrocity and overreaction? No.

          But I will say that GWB had a very good reasons after the 9/11 attacks to come out and say that the US is not at war with Islam. Because:
          1. It was true. We are not at war with the entire Islamic faith
          2. Unlike Geller, Bush knew that such statements were counterproductive
          3. Unlike Geller, Bush was aware such claims played into the propaganda of Al Queda.

          One of the main goals of these massacres is to get the reaction Geller seeks to invoke. To provoke retaliation and make the lives of ordinary Muslims in those democratic nations hellish. By doing so they become radicalized and easy recruiting material. The goal of terrorism isn’t always to kill or break things, but to create conditions which encourage repression and reprisal. Create a radicalized populace.

          Geller is part of the problem and nowhere close to what is necessary for the solution.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Your statement was that “Terrorism and extremism feed off of atrocity and overreaction.” That’s a quote, directly from you. Your argument was that those whose action are considered provocative by terrorists are SAFE (this is too stupid for words, of course, but its your argument not mine) because the terrorists “feed off of” the provocation, so they would never kill the provocateur.

            This is as moronic as it is possible to get. On this logic, the Charlie Hebdo people would still be alive. This is blame-the-victim stuff. So I asked you what “atrocity and overreaction” was being fed on when the terrorists attacked on 9/11. You don’t answer. I asked you what “atrocity and overreaction” was being fed on in the Charlie Hebdo massacre. You don’t answer. I asked you what “atrocity and overreaction” was being fed on by the ISIS beheadings of journalists and local Christians. You don’t answer. Because you’re an apologist for terrorists.

          • You are deliberately conflating and misinterpreting my statement.
            You are making up an argument which was not stated and trying to refute it. Strawman burning in its most obvious form.

            “Your argument was that those whose action are considered provocative by terrorists are SAFE”

            Never said anything of the sort. I hardly excused terrorist acts in any way.

            But I did say that tarring and feathering an entire religion plays into the hands of extremists and does nothing to oppose them.

            Given this level of dishonest representation and canned responses on your part, it is obvious you are not interested in a serious or intelligent discussion here.

            I can’t take you seriously.

          • I was asked to provide leadership for a community memorial service the day after 9/11, for a community in the DC Maryland suburbs. About 100 people from the community gathered for the service. We prayed for the victims, and for our nation in this trying time. But one point I made: the attack on the Twin Towers was NOT the fault of the Muslim neighbors who live in the community. They settled among us for the same reasons we did: To raise their families and to live freely in peace. It is a lie to blame people who have NO connection to terrorists for things they had no control over.

            After the service, a young couple came and said “thank you”, for they were somewhat scared. And they were no more at fault than we would be than if Tim McVeigh had lived next door to us, or any of the US born terrorists we have raised with all sorts of religious and racial hatreds. When we as a nation get all the terrorists out of our society, then we can claim innocence. Not before.


          • @CalSailor,

            Snap out of it.
            Religions are just ideas – bad ideas. They are not skin color or ethnicity, or sexual preference or nationality.
            There is no reason to treat any religion with respect if it does not come with any evidence for its truth.

      • Well…I think much of the recruiting is because adolescents with relatively few prospects in a stagnant western economy and culture can be persuaded that JIHAD is the new sexy, the new excitement. Plus, they will just kidnap a few village women, so ISIS provides these kids with sex as well!

    • Right, how dare Geller tell the truth! Throat slitting, genital mutilation and pederasty as endorsed by The Koran is true peace.

      • Except that isn’t really Geller’s shtick.

        Her thing is just claiming that every Muslim is really just a terrorist in disguise. That guy selling falafel on the street corner is secretly adulterating the white sauce with laxative and planning to blow up the nearest art museum.

        • @Larry,

          “Her thing is just claiming that every Muslim is really just a terrorist in disguise.”

          You are correct. She’s a jerk and bigot. She advocates disgusting things.
          But her rights are our rights – and as long as her speech isn’t inciting physical violence she needs and deserves our unflinching support.
          Why? Because this is a freedom of speech issue and nothing more. Her life (sick as it is) is being threatened for her speech – and that is unacceptable.
          On the particular issue of poking fun at absurdist Islamic claims about drawing mohammed as a way to utterly reject the claim that Islam holds some authority over her – I think she is doing us all a service.

          Islam has some nerve to dictate to non-muslims (WITH WEAPONS) how we are to conduct ourselves with regard to their phantom prophet.

          • Of course. I wholeheartedly agree. She has every right to do and say what she does. Nobody has a right to take out their disagreement with weapons.

            But it is worth noting that both Geller and ISIS benefit from the extremist attacks.

          • @AtheistMax & Larry

            Have either of you ever read passages from the Quran (non-abrogated) or any of the doctrine Hadiths? I challenge either one of you to tell me what you think the “virtues” of true islam are.

    • Pamela Geller is not “Anti-Islam”. She is anti-jihad. People like Bruce Lawrence paint muslims with a broad brush by assuming that all muslims support jihad.

    • James Carr said:

      “I think Geller is on a dangerous road with her over the top displays of anti-Islamic rhetoric,”

      She is very clear in saying she’s not anti-Islam. She’s anti-jihad and anti-sharia.

      She constantly points to the victims of jihad in the Middle East and in the West (e.g., girls that are victims of “honor” killings for not wearing the hijab or having a non-muslim boyfriend).

      Do you support “honor” killings?

  3. The Great God Pan

    ” Charlie Hebdo inaugurated the New Year with death and carnage in Paris, then Copenhagen.”

    Actually, no, it wasn’t the staff of Charlie Hebdo that did that.

    This is arguably the worst piece of trash RNS has run since Joni Tada Mitchell’s vile hit piece on Brittany Maynard.

    • The Great God Pan

      Mea culpa. The author of the vile piece on Maynard was, of course, Joni Tada Eareckson.

    • James Carvin

      Yep. And Suffism, represents a fraction of Islam. Sunnis (as in ISIS) is the majority. No offense to peaceful Muslims. I know there are many but this article is bunk.

  4. What a whitewash this article is.

    While I deeply oppose Pam Geller’s condemning all Islam and Muslims, the writer goes the opposite extreme and sweeps Islam’s serious historical sins totally under the rug.

    As Muslim reformists keep telling us, denying Islam’s blemishes undermines the cause of reform as much as denying anything good in Islam.

    Thus, both Lawrence and Geller are wrong.

    What we need is honesty and balance so that in the end, we are confronting (1) what is wrong with historical Islam (2) how modern radical Islamism has made things worse and (3) how if we are to support the reformers, we must reject both those who condemn all of Islam and those who whitewash its serious faults.

    • Jack,

      While that is a fine idea (since chances are Islam is not your religion). But would you be open to doing the same thing with the Catholic Church?
      1. What was wrong with the historical Catholic Church?
      2. How the modern Catholic Church has made things worse?
      3. How if we are to support the reforms, we must reject both those who condemn all of the Catholic Church and those who whitewash its serious faults?

      Easy thing to say should be done when it’s not your religion.

      • The Catholic church has plenty of internal critcs that fully acknowledge past and present errors and advocate reforms. While the Catholic church may be slower to reform, that does not mean that it doesn not. Unlike the critics of Islam, they won’t wind assasinated, forced to move and change their names or up with their heads cut off. Not just Catholics but every major protestantdenomination in the US has its internal critics. My own protestant denomination takes a very clear eyed look at its history and its problems.

      • For starters, Candy Man, my idea, like any other idea, stands or falls on its own merits or lack thereof, regardless of whether or not I’m true to it or am applying it consistently or not.

        Apparently you think that every Christian is a Catholic. That’s a common (and rather quaint) misconception for non-Christians from parts of the northeast who’ve never met a non-Catholic Christian.

        Not being a Catholic, yes, I have thought plenty about what’s wrong with the historical church and all the rest. But I’ve done that regarding every form of Protestantism as well. I am an equal-opportunity critic of major chunks of church history, because religion is not my focus so much as a relationship with God. I have no vested interest in defending anything but the veracity of Scripture and even there, I am always open to hearing people who disagree with my contentions.

  5. Although I doubt that I would ever attend a Geller event, given that violent Islamists took offense at the desire of young Malala Yousufzai to attend school simply because she is a girl, it seems that very little is required to set them off as can be seen in numerous other incidents as well.
    An offensive anti-Mormon play has insulted them on Broadway for a number of years now and anti-Christian “insults” are too numerous to even mention, but I haven’t heard of any violent responses from those groups.
    Saying that Geller’s hate is the “mirror image” of ISIS’ hatred of the West and that the two hates are “equal” fails logically since Geller had not committed any violent acts. Attacking her for her speech seems a bit close to accusing a rape victim of incitement for wearing a short skirt.
    Accusing Hirsi Ali of “pandering” is almost a worse accusation in light of what she suffered at the hands of violent Islamists while growing up among them. We can’t know her pain.

  6. William Otis

    Quoting Sufis to defend Islam is deceptive and intellectually dishonest. Radical Islamist (note that this term does not refer to all Muslims) have persecuted Sufis throughout history and recently many hundreds if not thousands have been killed in terrorist attacks across the Islamic world. Their shrines and mosque have recently been destroyed by Radical Islamist. Sufism is an intellectual movement, and it’s with all it’s many branches represent a tiny minority of Muslims. Using their words to defend their historic and current persecutors is appalling.
    Ms. Geller often says she is not speaking of all Muslims but the Radical Islamist who use violence to force their beliefs on others. A Peaceful Sufi will not become a violent terrorist because of a drawing of Muhammad or the critical words on a non-Muslim any more than Ms. Geller and her followers would physically assault you for your dishonest portrayal of her opinions

  7. Exactly! And how can any person have “peace of mind” if religions preach that God torments people forever in a place of fiery torment after they die, if they are bad (when that is NOT the case–Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10)?

    Such is not a true representation of God, whose major facet of his personality is LOVE (1 John 4:8).

    • Fran, Only God is Good (Mark 10:18). And those who choose to be separated from Him in eternity is to be separated from all that is Good. read Matthew 25:46. You cannot deny the clear words of Christ.

      • Greg,

        In Bible times, the most thorough means of destruction in use was fire (Joshua 6:24; Deuteronomy 13:16). Therefore, Jesus at times used the term “fire” in an illustrative way to denote destruction of the wicked, and not their eternal torment (Matthew 13:40-42, 49,50; Matthew 25:41).

        Jesus warned his disciples against letting their hand, foot or eye stumble them so that they would be pitched in Gehenna. He said “everyone must be salted with fire.” Everyone who did what he just warned against would be salted with the fire of Gehenna, or eternal destruction (Mark 9:43-49).

        Peter wrote “the heavens and earth that are now stored are stored up for the fire.” It cannot represent a literal fire but signifies eternal destruction. The flood in Noah’s day destroyed only ungodly persons, so the revelation by Jesus with his powerful angels in a burning fire will result in permanent destruction for ungodly ones (2 Peter 3:5-7, 10-13; Rev. 20:7-10, 15; 21:8), not torment.

      • Fran, if hell is not eternal, then neither is heaven, as they are portrayed by Our Lord as diametric opposites: “Then they [the reprobate] will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:46.
        And I believe the Book of Revelation is clear: Revelation 14:10-13: “Whoever worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or his hand will drink the wine of God’s wrath, which has been poured undiluted into the cup of his anger. He will be tortured with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. The smoke from their torture goes up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image…”
        Hell is eternal separation from Almighty God; once cast from His Presence, there is only one place left to go. And of course that is in the company of the Devil and his Angels (Matthew 25:41).

      • Greg,

        In response to your response to mine, hell, also known as Sheol and Hades, is the common grave of man, where the dead, both righteous and wicked, are asleep in death. Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10 confirms this. Psalm 146:4 brings out: “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day, his thoughts perish.”

        Revelation 20:14,15 predicts that “And death and hell (the common grave) were cast in the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

        Can a human condition, death, be thrown into a literal lake of fire? No; it is not a literal thing. And hell, the common grave? They both have to be destroyed or eliminated and never return.

        God’s kingdom and Jesus’ ransom sacrifice will soon put an end to them both, predicted at Revelation 21:4: “And God shall wipe all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death..the former things are passed away.” Wicked ones, death and the grave will no longer exist. Eternal life on earth will!

    • Yet when HE screws up (is he not the all knowing, all seeing, all powerful), HE blames his contingent, flawed (because he made us flawed) creation.

      That to me is an evil deity, quote mining from your Babble aside.

      The Semitic monotheisms are all immoral. They posit an evil, flawed godhood. Even if It existed, the only moral response is questioning and revolt.

  8. I don’t care if she is the KKK, Westboro Baptist Church and Pat Robertson rolled into one – she MUST HAVE her right to free speech and it is our collective responsibility as American citizens to support that right and to help protect her.

    Meanwhile, anyone threatening her physical well-being should be prosecuted for punished to the fullest extent of the law.

  9. So would the pseudo intellectual free-speech vigilantes agree the following to be free-speech:

    1. Print ads on buses that say: save children from Priests, they are all sadist child rapers
    2. Print a photo of Adolph Hitler with a Swastica on buses?
    3. Print “Holocaust never happened” on buses.
    4. Called for the genocide of Christians as they caused the first and second wars?

    Am I allowed those freedoms under your so called freedom to denigrate and disrespect?

    Live and let live. Nothing threatens America more than your war-mongering foreign policies.

    • James Carvin

      Well, yes. Of course. No repurcussions. It’s called free speech. Agree with it or not, find it distasteful or not, it should be protected. A hate group is one that actually advocates violence.

    • Kevin Callahan

      Dear Saqib,

      A matter of fact, you can do all of those things. Some of the ads might get defaced, but I seriously doubt that a Catholic, a former death camp inmate, nor a WW II veteran are likely to attack you with firearm.

      In the city where I live, we have an annual Independence parade. Exhibits in the parade include numerous churches advertising their summer Bible schools, as well as an atheist with a huge sign saying “Being right is good!” Insulting as that sign is to Christians, and as much as atheists in the crowd don’t like the bible school signs, neither has ever sparked any violence.

      That is how free speech works.

    • @Saqib,

      “Am I allowed those freedoms under your so called freedom to denigrate and disrespect?”


    • @Sadiq Ikram,

      Do I have the right to say…
      1. Print ads that say: save children from Priests, they are all sadist child rapers
      2. Print a photo of Adolph Hitler with a Swastica ?
      3. Print “Holocaust never happened” .
      4. Called for the genocide of Christians as they caused the first and second wars?

      Am I allowed those freedoms under your so called freedom to denigrate and disrespect?



  10. Yeah, actually, since there is no freedom from being “denigrated” or “disrespected.” So fire away, Mohammedan. Nothing threatens America more than surrendering our freedoms to a Muslim with a gun.

  11. trytoseeitmyway

    The phrase “free-speech jihadis” is obscene. Free-speech advocates have never flown airplanes into buildings. Free-speech advocates have never lined up members of a particular religion or party for beheading. Free-speech advocates don’t invade newspaper offices and begin firing automatic weapons at employees. I could go on and on ,,, and on and on … and on and on, but you get the point. This moral equivalence business is preposterous. If you can’t tell the difference between bold or provocative advocacy and terrorist murder, your opinions, Dr. Lawrence, are shown as worthless.

    • It’s an orwellian moral inversion: Good is bad and bad is good. An example of moral relativism gone bunkers.

  12. Um, yeah. Mr. Lawrence must have missed the historical fact that to Muhammad, Jihad meant slaughtering anyone that refused to either become a Muslim or “submit” to becoming a slave of a Muslim or a second class citizen (dhimmi) of an Islamic country “caliphate” with no rights to anything but maybe a natural death.

    Those Muslims living Jihad of violence are the Muslims following their prophet and their god.

    The Sufis?

    Hmmm, still wanting an Islamic caliphate.

    History does not show a non-violent Islam. Even to the shores of Tripoli.

  13. Jeffry Charles

    This is also free speech!


    Netanyahu appoints Ayelet Shaked—who called for genocide of Palestinians—as Justice Minister in new government – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/05/netanyahu-palestinians-government#sthash.TiiZCJFE.tADNZBCn.dpuf

    • trytoseeitmyway

      I had never heard of Ayelet Shaked before reading this post. But I was curious to see whether your claim was accurate … and of course it’s not. That is, it is simply not the case that “Ayelet Shaked . . . called for genocide of Palestinians.”

      One of the things I’ve noticed about leftists is that they are almost to a person incapable of avoiding exaggeration and mischaracterization in argument. There surely are exceptions, but they are few and far between. I think the reason must be that if they are careful about accuracy and fairness, their claims are less likely to motivate others to share the leftist’s views.

  14. Americans need to reject and resist Islam. If you want to be Muslim, do it like someone who wants to be Jewish or Lutheran – don’t try to intimidate others or change our laws and customs. But if you aren’t Muslim, don’t be cowed into submitting to their laws and culture. Which is what the advocates of appeasement and tippy-toeing are setting us up for.

  15. I suppose this is supposed to be ironic? Using Sufis – who over the centuries have been hunted down and killed for ‘not being true Muslims’ by the mainstream Islamic sects – as the example of what real Islam is. This article is so bad it is counterproductive. Most people know there are peaceful Muslims out there, but they still have to face the fact that there are Muslims who are not and who quote the Koran to explain why. If you want to write a useful article address that. How can reformers in Islam address the fundamental Koranic understanding of abrogation.

    As for Ayaan Hirsi Ali – your understanding of ‘facts’ is weak. I have not read her latest book, but her earlier book that I read was autobiographical – she describes the genital mutilation SHE experienced. Just because it is a reality you would prefer to ignore doesn’t change the facts.

  16. I am not aware of anti-Christian and anti-Jewish conferences and meetings in this country needing protection or being attacked by Muslim jihadis. I am not aware of the need to provide security for The Book of Mormon play because of rapid Mormons threatening to kill those performing and watching the play. The Last Temptation of Christ – did I pull a Rip Van Winkle and miss the bombings and shootings by Christians? Or how about the Piss Christ or the Madonna sweared in elephant dung, both using public funds?

    Geller’s conference proved her point – the jihadis are in this country and tried to murder people over cartoons. I guess they didn’t succeed because they were part of the JV team as implied by Obama.

  17. While I personally wouldn’t support derogatory drawings of Muhammad, Pamela Geller is not the one to vilify here. Sorry. The ones that are trying to kill us are to be called out for their murderous hatred. Don’t be confused, Bruce Lawrence. First they come for the ones that are defiant, then they’ll start coming after the gays, the moderate Christians, the atheists, and then they’ll come after you. And then it’ll be too late. Satanists cannot be appeased, they will fight for their Master until the end, it is our job to stand up and fight against the evil spreading across this world, in whatever form it comes across. Silencing Pam will not do anything to fight against this evil.

    • I saw an interview with her, and apparently she is outraged at the killing of innocent Christians and others in the Middle East. She feels in her mind that there has been no response whatsoever to all the slaughter, so I guess that was her way of displaying the pathetic nature of those sick people who behead, crush, kill, and destroy innocent Christians.

  18. DeaconJohn.Bresnahan

    The hypocrisy of the attacks on Geller from some are typical. Where were these people when our tax money was used to finance putting a crucifix in a pot of urine or excrement on an image of Mary??? Where the outcry from those who now want to clamp down on any negative images of Mohammed???? Are these the same people who were ridiculing and insulting those who objected to their taxes being used to insult their religion????. And giving Catholics lectures on the issue of free speech as well as on an artist’s right to use my money to insult my religion.?? At least the cartoon show was not using my tax money.

    • Deacon,

      “tax money.”

      Our tax money shall not be used to endorse a religion.
      But it may be used to support education. “Piss Christ” was just educational and an artistic expression – like the cartoons.

  19. Isn’t it strange that we have so many people trying to demonize the person and cast blame on the person who DIDN’T show up with assault rifles to try and kill people whose viewpoint they didn’t agree with? And all these people trying to deflect the conversation from one about Islam and what’s actually in those texts that drives all these Islamic supremacists to murder — which is what this conversation should be all about. The smoke and mirrors disinformation brigade certainly is well organized and entrenched when it comes to Islam. Remarkable.

  20. Why are so many professors outside of the hard sciences such slaves to factual voodoo?
    Bruce Lawrence is a joke peddling factual snake oil completely divorced from reality 180 degrees in the opposite direction.
    He leaves readers asking “Is he really that misinformed or is he willfully lying?”
    Maybe both.
    The profession is so full of mediocrity.

  21. People, please read the Koran.
    This Pamela spouts Koranic verses in her interviews. The good professor of Islamic studies surely has a deep knowledge of the Koran too. Also, read the Tafsir, the commentaries about the Koran; read the Hadith and the Sira, the sayings and the biography of Muhammad. Educate yourself. This Pamela and the good professor, I think would agree on this. Know Islam. Know Muhammad. Whether Pamela is a free speech jihadi or the professor an islamofascist is beside the point. The point is: what is Islam. When you know the facts then neither can dictate their views on you.

  22. Christians and Jews are fair targets for satire and mockery. The musical satire, “Book of Mormon”, won critical acclaim. But I shall wait in vain for the premiere theatrical performance of “Hadith”. America is at war, only it is a strange kind of war, where only one side is willing to fight. A nation at war must use all the resources at its disposal. And, make no mistake about it, ridicule is a relevant modality. Walt Disney’s 1942 cartoon, “Der Fuehrer’s Face”, won the Oscar for best animated film. Had the American cultural ethos of 2015 existed during the war years, we would have seen headlines to the effect: “German-American Bund Demands Destruction of Disney Film, Calls Studio ‘Anti-German‘”. “Controversial Cartoon is Provocative, Hateful”. “University Students Picket Theatres”. “RKO Studios Face Divestment, Boycott, Sanctions”.”Der Sturmer: Himmler Says Clarence Nash, Spike Jones Will Die”. And Niemoller’s caveat would have begun: “First they came for the…

  23. This article tries to shift the blame and the public gaze away from the violence committed by Islamic jihadists and equate Pamela Geller’s nonviolent defence of free speech as somehow equivalent to their murderous actions. It is a spurious argument.
    The reason why people in the west are so distrustful of Islam is because of the bombings,beheadings and brutality committed daily by so many of its followers.

  24. It is likely that Prof. Lawrence is paid well to continue to whitewash Islam’s doctrine and history. While I have no direct knowledge, I would expect that Duke’s Islamic Studies department is substantially funded by Muslims abroad, similarly to Georgetown and many others, where Dr. Lawrence and his contemporaries, like Dr. Esposito, are leading generation after generation into oblivion due to their misinformation about Islam.

    Listen to the words and deeds of Muslims daily. Also, read the Qur’an. It is not a classified document. Formulate your own opinions about Islam, while respectfully thanking Bruce Lawrence for his opinion of what your interpretation should be, but declining to see for yourself.

    Of course, one should be wary of an author that referred to Geller’s exercise in freedom of speech as her “jihad”, when the same author has probably whitewashed jihad and portrayed at as an inner struggle.

    Well, wouldn’t you know it…?


  25. I did read the article because when you are going to make a comment you should have the decency to do so. The article starts with a photo of Pamela Geller wich can compete with the best nazi propaganda “art”. Light is used to distort the image. The photo of the author on the other hand is one that uses light to make a favourable impression.

    At first i felt angry about that but then i took comfort from the fact that the islamic propaganda machine has to use this type of tactics, apparently for lack of real arguments.

    So i read it and it was what i expected. No arguments at all. Just hollow phrases and the prof blowing his own trumpet. Allah expresses love allright: for those muslims who slaughter the infidels in his name.

    Did the prof take a look at the koran? I doubt it. Probably too difficult for a liberal. He can take a closer look at it at my website here http://members.ziggo.nl/iiat/
    But as he probably allready pocketed his money i don’t expect he will.

    Greetings from…

  26. Bruce Lawrence makes me want to throw up. He is a closet jihadist, an obviophobe, or both. His statements indicate that he has been brainwashed about Radical Islam, and he is also brainwashing his students. What I really dislike is his disingenuousness. With ISIS, at least, you know where they stand. In Dabiq, ISIS comes right out and says they are going to kill you in the name of Allah. Not so the “professor.” He is a snake in the grass.

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