A Red Mountain Tea Party event headlined by notorious anti-Islamic speaker Pamela Geller went on as planned last night despite a Muslim civil-liberties organization's call for the event's cancellation.
The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on East Valley High School in Mesa, which hosts the Red Mountain Tea Party's weekly meetings, to cancel the event.
In a blog post advertising the event, Geller warned "Islamic thugs and goons" that attendees would be armed, writing, "We have armed security, plus it's a gun state--plenty of patriots with protection, including me. Trust me -- you are going down first."
East Valley High School declined to comment, but the event went on last night as planned.
In the end, the tension was far greater online than at the event itself. No one came out to protest Geller's speech, and there was no security to be seen at the school. If people indeed brought guns, they weren't visible.
Several hundred people attended, almost all senior citizens. The evening began with a group prayer led by a man who began by decrying last week's court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, which he then seemed to link to abortion rates, before finally calling Muhammad a desert bandit and a pedophile. After the Pledge of Allegiance and an acapella version of the Star Spangled Banner, Geller began.
She addressed the controversy over her talk immediately.
"I don't know if you're aware of it," she said, "but when the Islamic supremacists and their rubes got wind of the fact that I'd be speaking here tonight, the school was contacted by the Council of Islamic Relations, whom the media calls a Muslim civil rights group."
She paused to allow for audience laughter, before calling CAIR an un-indicted co-conspirator in the 9/11 attacks.
Geller has famously re-posted controversial cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad from a Danish newspaper on her Atlas Shrugs blog, and was involved in the campaign to stop the building of a community center--which she called a "victory mosque"--near Ground Zero. She has claimed that Islam inspired Hitler, and she's bragged about using a copy of the Quran as a doorstop. The two organizations Geller founded, Stop the Islamization of America and the American Freedom Defense Initiative, are both on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of designated hate groups, and she has been banned from entering the United Kingdom because of her expressed views.
"I came to speak to a room full of happy warriors, and they can't even tolerate that," she later said, noting her surprise that there weren't any protesters -- "maybe because I gave a warning that this is a gun state."
The rest of Geller's speech involved a history of her controversial anti-Islam ad campaign, calls for mosques to be monitored and an end to Common Core, long diatribes against the "ene-media," and a warning that "you won't like what comes after America."
When an audience member asked if moderate Islam is a gateway drug to radical Islam, Geller said, "There is no moderate Islam."
Geller asked her audience to use all the things she'd taught them to fight what she called "the mosque-ing" of America.
"People, it's like they are like Helen Keller and someone moved the furniture," she said. "They know something is wrong, and they are looking for answers. Be their answer."
Geller wrote a post this morning celebrating CAIR's failure to silence her.
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"Long story short," she wrote, "Hamas goons at CAIR did not succeed in shutting down our event. This ain't Gaza, brothers." She included a picture of the large audience in attendance.
The next meeting of the Red Mountain Tea Party is scheduled to take place at East Valley High School on November 10. It is to feature Bradlee Dean, whose "You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International" group has also been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
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