When the MTA would not permit an advertisement featuring a photograph of a jumbo jet careening toward a smoldering World Trade Center juxtaposed against a photograph of the proposed Ground Zero Mosque, Pamela Geller, a right-wing author and blogger who created the ad, sued.
At first, the MTA said that images of 9/11 were forbidden. Geller agreed to remove the images of the planes and the smoke from the buildings, but eventually, the MTA permitted the original ad to run in full.
Crowed Geller on her popular blog, Atlas Shrugs, “The MTA has recognized the justice of our position in our lawsuit,” and she added, “This is a great victory for freedom of speech.”
Reached by phone yesterday, Geller reiterated her position on the Cordoba House.
“It should be a war memorial. It should be a national historical site like Pearl Harbor or the Gettysburg or Williamsburg and so on and so forth.”
The proposed mosque and cultural center is two blocks away from the site where the terrorist attacks occurred. When asked how far she thought the mosque should be from Ground Zero, she said, simply, “Not there.”
Geller is no stranger to controversy, particularly involving advertisements on the side of the MTA’s buses. Earlier this year, she placed 30 ads on the side of city buses that read, “Fatwa on your head? Is Your Family Threatening You? Leaving Islam?” and gave a web address http://www.refugefromislam.com
“[Buses] are a very effective form of advertising,” Geller said. “If you put it on a billboard, not everybody will see it. I like the bus purely as a marketing vehicle.”
Geller got her start in advertising at The New York Observer, of all places, working as an associate publisher in the early 1990’s. She says that she is now an “investigative journalist” and blogger, and has written a book about Barack Obama called The Post American Presidency. She also runs the executive director of two right-wing outfits, Stop Islamization of America and the Freedom Defense Initiative.
“This is the work I do,” she said of her bus campaign. “I am a human rights organizer dedicated to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and dedicated to individual rights.”
The media watchdog group Media Matters for America has accused Geller of demagoguery, and called on networks to not have her own the air. She has, they note, accused President Obama of igniting a jihad against the nation and falsely claimed that the President has had Louis Farrakhan over to the White House.
For her part, Geller sees a distinction between her efforts to curtail the Cordoba Initiative’s freedom to build on land they own–and freedom of religion, many argue–and the MTA’s efforts to curtail what she considers her freedom of speech.
“I am not invoking Constitutional law. I am speaking to the humanity of the Iman and of Daisy Khan. This is purely on a human-to-human level,” she said, adding. “Don’t kill the messenger. What, truth is the new hate speech now?”
She says the fight is far from over, even after the MTA relented. Next up is a planned rally in front of the location of the proposed Cordoba House on September 11.