The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Sanctimony City

Pamela Geller, most famous for fighting what she called the "ground zero mosque" in New York, bought ads on the sides of 10 San Francisco buses that feature hateful quotes from Osama bin Laden, accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad -- under the headline "My Jihad."
"Jihad, holy fighting in Allah's cause, with full force and weaponry is ... an obligation and duty in Islam to every Muslim," reads the Shahzad quote. And underneath: "That's my Jihad. What's yours?"
San Francisco City Hall responded in knee-jerk fashion -- holding a news conference drenched in sanctimony. "Hate has no place in our city," announced Mayor Ed Lee, flanked by fellow camera-happy officeholders. Because the First Amendment essentially prevents the city from censoring ads based on ideology, Muni, the local transportation agency, will run the posters -- but will give the $5,000 in revenue to the city's Human Rights Commission to study the ads' impact on the city's Arab and Islamic community.
Geller's campaign is a spoof on a campaign launched by a Chicago Council on American-Islamic Relations staffer to promote a broader, kinder definition of jihad, an Islamic term for "struggle." In one "MyJihad" ad, a woman in a headscarf asserts, "My jihad is to stay fit despite my busy schedule." As Zahra Billoo of the local branch of the council explained, the campaign was designed "to reclaim the word jihad," which had been "narrowly defined by extremists on both sides."
Billoo has denounced the Geller ads as "Islamophobic and racist," as "they wrongly suggest that all Muslims are defined by extremism and violence."
I happen to agree with Billoo on the offensiveness of Geller's campaign. Though Geller has a point in challenging the notion that one can put a happy face on violent jihad, her American Freedom Defense Initiative feeds on hyperbole. As Billoo noted, Geller's billboards amplify the terrorist message in a way that "ignores the fact that every major American Muslim organization has condemned time and again the very acts of terror that she attempts to attribute to the Muslim community."
For me, that's like 2012, when Democrats seized on one deluded candidate's view on "legitimate rape" and accused the GOP of being like-minded even as Mitt Romney and every other major Republican denounced that view. Oh, wait. I forgot. It's OK to define the right by its extremists.
Of course the news conference was really about politics. Lee and company never pass up a chance to use tax dollars to lecture on what they see as wrong thinking on the right.
Now, I think the $5,000 would be better spent on buses. Maybe spring for a few steam cleanings. But Muni doesn't think so. Spokesman Paul Rose told me that even though Muni has to run the ads, it doesn't "want to accept revenues from an ad campaign that has such a hateful message." So Muni is transferring the funds to the HRC, to be used, Lee spokeswoman Christine Falvey told me, on "education and outreach."
Exactly how? HRC Chairman Michael Sweet told me the commission hasn't decided how to spend the funds. What did you do with the $5,000 Muni sent you last year after Geller ran ads on a few buses? Sweet answered, "It hasn't yet been committed to a specific resource."
A news conference -- for Lee and company, that's their jihad. What's yours?
Debra J. Saunders is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Her email address is dsaunders@sfchronicle.com

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

loading...

Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor: jbauer@heraldnet.com

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to letters@heraldnet.com, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at cmacpherson@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet highlights

Looking for a friend?
Looking for a friend?: Animals up for adoption at the Everett shelter (8 new photos)
A new breed of berries
A new breed of berries: Blueberry and raspberry plants that are ideal for Northwest
10 critical plays
10 critical plays: Aside from ‘the interception,’ other events also cost...
A future recreation station
A future recreation station: Skate park, playgrounds coming to Cavelero Hill
SnoCoSocial