A phenomenon that has for the most part been limited to non-US soil made its way here this weekend. This past Sunday evening, two suspects attempted to shoot up the Draw Muhammad competition hosted in Garland, TX. Thankfully, no one was killed but the two would-be attackers; the injured security guard was treated and released.
For their part, members of the local Muslim community defended and affirmed the right to free speech of the event organizer, Pamela Geller, and anyone else interested in depicting or even insulting their most revered prophet. In fact, the gunmen weren’t even from the same state but instead from Phoenix, AZ. One of them was identified by the FBI as a terrorism suspect in the past.
As in other cases where Islam is the matter at hand, as a politically-progressive Western born-and-raised ex-Muslim of color, I don’t strongly identify with or endorse any side here. Geller and the others at the event, including Geert Wilders and the former-Muslim now-Ayn Randist who won the contest, aren’t exactly the types of people I want to have lots of power and influence in my country for many, many reasons.
On the other hand, obviously, I don’t condone violence as a way of dealing with right-wing speech, which is both ethically wrong and regressive, not to mention counterproductive. The only reason I know who Geller, Wilders, and their ilk are is because I was a Muslim and am no longer. These are people I vilified and reviled as a Muslim; as an ex-Muslim atheist, they are the types who claim to represent and defend people like me but with whom I often disagree. And now, more people know of them and their views than ever before.