Pamela Geller, one of the organizers of a Muhammad cartoon-drawing contest where two gunmen opened fire Sunday in Garland, Texas, equated criticism against her for “inviting” the violence to blaming a rape victim in a Monday interview.
Geller was responding to comments the mayor of Garland, Douglas Athas, made to BBC Radio.
“Of course we would’ve been happy if they stayed in New York and had their activity there, but they chose to come here,” Athas said. “From all reports I’ve gotten from our officers who were on the scene, most of people there weren’t from Garland. They weren’t even from Texas. So this does not involve Garland.”
The mayor went on to tout the city’s diversity and insist the cartoon-drawing contest was organized by an “outside group that just happened to pick our city for their event.”
Geller — who previously compared what she called her defense of free speech to civil rights icon Rosa Parks going to the front of the bus — equated Athas’ remarks with rape victim-blaming.
“How ridiculous,” Geller told BBC Radio. “I mean, that’s like saying that the pretty girl was responsible for her own rape. The mayor is going after the defenders of free speech and clearly giving a free pass to the savages who came with guns to kill innocent people because of a cartoon.”
“It’s ridiculous in its face,” she added. “Shame on the mayor.”
In a Tuesday interview with the Dallas Morning News, Athas distanced his town further from Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative and the cartoon-drawing event.
“Her actions put my police officers, my citizens and others at risk. Her program invited an incendiary reaction,” he told the newspaper.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.