Central to Nathan Lean’s claim that our American Freedom Defense Initiative ads spread “hate” is his charge that the ads “suggest collective guilt on the part of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims for acts of terrorism.” Yet nowhere do our ads suggest any such thing. Instead, they highlight real hatred and incitement to violence from influential Muslim leaders and spokesmen. Muslims and non-Muslims who abhor and oppose that hatred and incitement should be standing with us, not condemning us.
To try to prevent that from happening, Lean engages in numerous attacks on our character and our activities, with scant regard for the facts. He says that AFDI is “classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” without bothering to note what many have pointed out: that the group irresponsibly, and to stimulate donations, labels as “hate groups” many who simply disagree with its political stance. He claims that we “desire to ignite a culture war along faith lines,” when it is obvious after more than 20,000 jihad terror attacks worldwide since 9/11 that one is already being waged by Islamic jihadists, without any help from us.
One of our earlier ads, Lean claims, “equated Muslims with ‘savages,’” when actually the ad only dubbed “savages” those jihadists who have murdered innocent civilians in Israel, and the Muslims who celebrated their actions. He says that our jihad truth campaign “taunts a positive campaign to reclaim the term ‘jihad’ from extremists on both sides whose narrow interpretations of the concept fuel misunderstanding and hatred,” but he doesn’t mention that that campaign was sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that the Justice Department has found to have numerous ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and of which several former officials have been convicted of jihad terror activity. Our jihad ads were an attempt to counter with the grim truth about jihad this group’s cynical attempt to render Americans complacent about jihad violence.
Lean also claims that we “inspired the Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik,” because the killer cited us in his work. But actually, Breivik cited many people, including Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, and Thomas Jefferson, and he was not an opponent of jihad, but wanted to aid Hamas and ally with jihad groups. Breivik explained that his real inspiration for his violence was al-Qaeda — yet Lean objects to our ads opposing al-Qaeda.
Even worse is when Lean lies outright, in his claim that we “raised money for the producer of ‘Innocence of Muslims,’” a film with which we had nothing to do. Muslim rioters killed innocents over that film — for which the killers alone are responsible, not the filmmakers. But behind Lean’s complaint that the film “intentionally antagonized followers of the Islamic faith” is an ugly subtext: the assumption that if Islamic supremacists riot and kill because they are angry about something, the one who angered them is responsible, and must curtail his speech accordingly. This would be the death of the freedom of speech, and an invitation to tyranny.
Nathan Lean complains that we are “making a peaceful future more difficult to imagine.” Actually, it is he who is doing so, by trying to demonize those of us who are trying to raise awareness of jihad violence and Sharia oppression of gays and others. Resisting oppression is not evil, or hateful — but by stigmatizing, Lean is only enabling and legitimizing that oppression. By doing so, he is the one who is genuinely “spreading hate.”
Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer are the founders of the American Freedom Defense Initiative.