On Wednesday’s “Laura Ingraham Show,” host Laura Ingraham sparred with Mohammed Art Exhibit and Contest organizer Pamela Geller over the event.
Geller disputed arguments that the event is provocative, and argued that “it was the jihadists, not me who made the cartoons a flash-point. And if we surrender on that point, and we stop drawing Mohammed, we’ve established a precedent of surrendering.”
Ingraham pointed to her history of speaking out against Islamic extremism, “long before it became vogue to do so,” but questioned whether events like Geller’s helped combat Islamic extremism worldwide and dismissed “The idea that this is like some bold stance…and we’re the brave ones, and we’re taking on Islam. I’m sorry, I think we have a billion Muslims in the world.”
Geller responded by denying she ever took that stance and discussed prior free speech events she had, Ingraham maintained she wasn’t arguing that.
Ingraham then said that she didn’t like exhibits such as Piss Christ that were designed to offend Christians and the fawning coverage they received, and that while such forms of speech, and Geller’s cartoon contest are constitutionally protected, she personally disagrees with it. She also argued, “I don’t think a lot is accomplished to advance the cause of freedom and liberty to — on this issue, make this the hill to die on,” and that debating on the issues would be “much better.”
Geller answered that drawing cartoons of Mohammed is “a debate on the issues.” And pointed out that while Catholics don’t like seeing their religion insulted, they don’t kill people over religious mockery, “so, no one talks about provoking them, or respecting them. In any pluralistic society, we have to put up with being offended,” and asked, “why must we condescend to Muslims and think that they cannot learn that?”
Geller also attacked the notion that “these two gunmen would have gone and lived quiet lives as peaceable and loyal Americans” but for the art exhibit, and suggested that “they would have attacked somewhere else.”
Ingraham continued to maintain that the exhibit was tactically incorrect, arguing that “I don’t think conservatives are well served, the cause of conservatism, by making it your point to mock religion. I just don’t.”
She continued that “secularists” have the goal of making “religion the problem, and I don’t think that’s the case here” (although, she criticized them for not mocking Islam). “And I don’t think, I don’t think that’s the case here. And I think we have a lot of Muslims who are living in this country right now, they’re not shooting up Texas…unless we’re going to have money to fight a billion Muslims around the world, I don’t see how this is really going to be helpful.”
After the break, Ingraham added that “part of the culture [in the US] is religion. Part of our culture is we believe in respect of each other’s faith,” which is something that the gunmen did not believe in, and that she and Geller have a disagreement regarding “tactics.” Geller countered, “Look, this is a war. I understand everybody wants to get along, but we’re so beyond that. The war is here. The idea that these two gunmen would have lived quiet lives had this event not taken place is ludicrous.” Adding that because the gunmen would have “struck somewhere else,” “lives were saved” because they attacked somewhere with heavy security.
Geller then said, “there’s a morally inverted quotient being applied here that I just don’t understand. I did not make the cartoons a flash-point. They did,” and wondered, given support for anti-blasphemy laws and protests against the film “American Sniper,” people would draw the line on free speech.
Ingraham responded that respect is important as well, and that “just because you can say it — I mean, there’s a lot of stuff that — look, again, we come at it from a different perspective. But I — there’s a lot of free expression that I support the right to express things, a lot of pornography I think isn’t good for society,” but is still constitutionally protected.
Ingraham also maintained that conservatives “have all sorts of issues with the way freedom of expression is carried out in the country, just because we don’t believe it’s helpful, not because we don’t think it’s constitutionally protected.” And “I don’t think we can fight a billion Muslims around the world. If Muslim people, all of them think offending the prophet Mohammed in a cartoon is sacrilege, then I don’t see why we want to go out of the way to offend a billion Muslims, not that they’re all going to come attack us, but why go out of your way to offend them when there’s nothing served by it. We have free expression in this country. We have it today.”
Geller argued back that she isn’t “going out of my way.” And that “These moderate Muslim nations…in order to make them work, we have to submit to the Sharia to fight ISIS. Why don’t these moderate nations instead accept the freedom of speech,” “the more we acquiesce, the more we appease, the bigger the demands. The more we reward violent terrorism, and that’s what we’re doing,” Ingraham stated that “I don’t see that.”
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