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NYT profile on blogger who’s shaping anti-Islam sentiment

October 10, 2010

I was only vaguely aware of the blog Atlas Shrugs before this NYT profile on the woman who created it. Her name is Pamela Geller. She’s a wealthy divorcée from Long Island. She’s got a ton of energy, and most of it is directed at attacking Islam.

Operating largely outside traditional Washington power centers — and, for better or worse, without traditional academic, public-policy or journalism credentials — Ms. Geller, with a coterie of allies, has helped set the tone and shape the narrative for a divisive national debate over Park51 (she calls the developer a “thug” and a “lowlife”). In the process, she has helped bring into the mainstream a concept that after 9/11 percolated mainly on the fringes of American politics: that terrorism by Muslims springs not from perversions of Islam but from the religion itself.

Her anti-Islamic mission seems extreme to me. I don’t think it elevates the conversation. It’s too deeply entrenched in the us vs. them mentality. I appreciate some of the arguments Geller is making. There are problems in Islam that need to be revealed. But I’m more interested in someone who can effect real change, not just inspire knee-jerk hateful reactions.

Then again, this is my first exposure to Geller. I will add Atlas Shrugs to the blogs I visit regularly.

I gained even more insight by reading her response to the article, which Geller described as “extraordinarily nasty and fallacious.” Again, not a big fan of her approach. It’s too ugly for my taste. But getting the whole story is important. And by reading her blog, I got much closer to the whole story than I did by reading the NYT piece.

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