Epitaph for Salon and Pam Geller’s Discredited Rick Perry Meme
By No-Name Asshat (aka David Stein)
Okay, I promised I wouldn’t devote any more time to Pam Geller’s completely false claim that Rick Perry forced Texas public schools to use a “pro-Sharia” curriculum. But there’s something about being called a “no-name asshat” that makes a man want to take to his keyboard…to update his Facebook page with that amazing new nickname (to me, “No-Name Asshat” conjures up images of Clint Eastwood’s “man with no name” character from Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns…a gunslinger with no past, no name, and an asshat).
But seriously, I wouldn’t be writing any more about this matter had Geller (and Robert Spencer) not viciously attacked Ace of Spades, Commentary, and RedState for their positive coverage of my “Rick Perry pro-Sharia” debunking. The Geller/Spencer attacks were so vicious and unwarranted, I thought it was only right to devote one more post to the subject (a post that I sincerely hope will serve as a timeline of, and epitaph for, a discredited meme).
August 10: Salon.com’s Justin Elliott ran a piece titled “Rick Perry: The Pro-Sharia Candidate?” Note the clever question mark. Elliott insinuated that Perry’s involvement with the Muslim Histories and Culture Project (MHCP), in association with the Aga Khan Foundation (which represents Ismaili Muslims), might become a problem for the governor among the “anti-Sharia crowd.”
August 15: Pam Geller takes the bait. Based on no evidence except the Salon piece, she breathlessly proclaimed that Rick Perry is using his “enormous power” to “feed children in Texas public schools” whitewashed, pro-Sharia materials (remember the underlined sentence – it’ll become relevant later on).
August 16: After a little research, I located the MHCP lesson plan that is intended for use in Texas public schools, and I interviewed its author, a retired history teacher named Ronald Wiltse. Wiltse, a self-described Christian Zionist and staunch supporter of Israel, volunteered for the MHCP program, completed the training sessions, and submitted a lesson plan, which was accepted. Wiltse’s lesson plan was the only one on the MHCP website.
Wiltse’s lesson plan is pro-West, pro-Israel, anti-Sharia, and it strongly highlights Muslim terror (even stressing the connection between Muslim terror and the Muslim religion). Wiltse told me that the training session for the program included no proselytizing or coercion to create a “pro-Islam” lesson plan.
August 19: Salon’s Elliott runs another piece, “Does Rick Perry Have a Porn Problem?” (again, notice that clever little question mark), suggesting that Perry might be “pro-porn” (in 1995, he invested between $5,000 and $10,000 in the then-huge video and game rental chain Movie Gallery…and Movie Gallery had some PORN TITLES in its massive catalog!).
It’s crystal clear what Elliott is doing; he’s purposely trying to stir up anti-Perry sentiment among the GOP’s conservative base, first by trying to whip up the “anti-Sharia crowd,” and then by setting his sights on anti-porn conservatives.
August 19: Elliott emails me (in response to an email I sent him, asking for proof of the existence of a Rick Perry/Aga Khan “pro-Sharia” curriculum). Elliott’s response is telling:
“My piece was merely pointing out that Perry had an unusually warm relationship with Muslims as compared to the Cains and Santorums of the field. The particulars of the curriculum are irrelevant.”
Chew on that for a moment. “The particulars of the curriculum are irrelevant.” In other words, Elliott asked the question, “Rick Perry: the pro-Sharia candidate?” but the answer didn’t concern him! The answer is “irrelevant” to him. He didn’t CARE if there’s a “pro-Sharia” curriculum. He didn’t CARE to know anything at all about the curriculum.
His intent was not to investigate or explore the claim that Perry might have helped launch a pro-Sharia curriculum. His intent was merely to whip certain members of the “anti-Sharia crowd” into a frenzy.
And BOY was he happy with the results. He bragged to me about how many of the “anti-Sharia” bloggers he managed to rile up:
“As for the reaction of the anti-Shariah crowd, you don’t think multiple columns by Pam Geller, Robert Spencer, and WND represent a trend? That’s about 3/4s of the movement right there, with the remaining 1/4 represented by (Frank) Gaffney, who has dissented.”
August 22: I published another piece in response to Geller’s attempted refutation of my first one. Geller couldn’t deny the anti-Sharia nature of the lesson plan, so she misrepresented excerpts from the abstracts (summaries) of the teacher training seminars, and claimed that they are being “forced upon unsuspecting students attending Texas public schools.” It’s an absolute lie. The teacher training seminars (the ones that Ron Wiltse completed) were not intended for, nor attended by, ANY children in Texas public schools.
By this point in the debate, Geller had resorted to just making stuff up.
August 23: Robert Spencer jumped into the fray with a “refutation” of my previous pieces. He posted it on his site, Geller’s site, and as a comment on my site.
August 24: I refuted Spencer’s “refutation.” Regarding the “Rick Perry pro-Sharia curriculum” issue, Spencer accepts that what Geller published were indeed abstracts describing the teacher training sessions, NOT lessons to be used in classrooms. But he argued that the abstracts “whitewash” various facts from the historical record.
I replied that it is illogical to claim that the training sessions involve “whitewashing” based only upon reading the abstracts (summaries). Abstracts are, by definition, not exhaustive. If the abstracts included every single detail, every single aspect, every single word of the training sessions, they wouldn’t be abstracts. A 6’4” midget is not a midget. An exhaustive, all-inclusive, detailed paper is not an abstract.
I reminded Spencer that the only way to find out what is actually taught at the sessions is to speak with someone who completed them, as I did with Mr. Wiltse.
Let’s pause at August 24th to sum up where things stood regarding the Perry “pro-Sharia” curriculum: I had published the actual classroom lesson plan. Geller had attempted to rebut that by publishing excerpts from the summaries of the teacher training courses (which were NOT used in any classrooms). Spencer agreed that the abstracts were not the in-class materials, but he expressed concerns that they whitewashed history, and, therefore, might negatively influence the teachers who take the course. I responded that it was impossible to tell, based on the summaries, what was included or excluded from the sessions, but A) Ron Wiltse had completed the sessions, and he told me that they were not slanted toward Islam or against the West, and B) Wiltse’s classroom lesson plan, which was accepted by the MHCP, was most definitely not slanted in favor of Islam or Sharia.
What seemed to be dead and buried was Geller’s false assertion that the Perry/Khan Foundation agreement resulted in pro-Sharia materials being used in Texas public school classrooms. Spencer had given up on that meme, and I assumed it was gone for good. Spencer and I would have to agree to disagree about the other stuff, but the “Sharia in the classroom” fable was dead. Commentary, Ace of Spades, and RedState all reported on the demise of the myth.
Which really, really pissed Pam Geller off! How dare anyone allow something as irrelevant as facts kill off her meme (well, technically it was Salon’s meme…but Pam is the one who ran with it).
“The real question is, should our children be taught this steaming pile of propaganda? I would not want that dawah taught to my children in public school.” (8/26)
“So imagine my surprise when these big blogs went postal when I exposed Rick Perry’s dangerous dawah in the Texas public schools.” (8/27)
Interestingly, Spencer, who also posted on the 27th, just couldn’t bring himself to lie as boldly as Geller did. He readily admitted the truth: “The material Geller quoted, on the other hand, with its multiple whitewashes of the Qur’an, Muhammad, and Islamic history, comes from the Harvard/University of Texas curriculum for the training of teachers using the Perry/Aga Khan material” (emphasis mine). Yes, he still claims that he can magically deduce from reading only the abstracts that the training sessions were “whitewashed,” but at least he willingly admits that the materials Geller posted were NOT classroom materials.
In other words, Geller’s lying – even according to her friend and supporter Robert Spencer!
Spencer, while not willing to commit to a lie of the magnitude of Geller’s, still managed to indulge in some fancy fabrications. He claimed that the Wiltse lesson plan is “among the lesson plans developed by the 80 teachers who attended these (teacher training) sessions.” And does he present evidence? Of course not! Yes, the MHCP site claims that 80 teachers attended the training sessions. But nowhere – nowhere – does it claim that all 80 followed through with writing lesson plans. The simple fact is, Ron Wiltse’s lesson plan was the ONLY complete lesson plan on the MHCP site. If Spencer thinks there are 79 more, let him find them and publish them (you know, to show…oh, damn, what’s that thing called…oh yeah, “proof”).
Spencer also indulged in one of the most bafflingly nonsensical contortions of logic that I have ever read:
“The material David Stein and Ace are quoting as the Perry/Aga Khan curriculum is not actually part of the curriculum at all. What they’re quoting is a lesson plan drawn up by one participant in the seminars that Perry and the Aga Khan sponsored in Texas.”
This entire debate started because Geller insisted there were pro-Sharia materials being used in the classrooms of Texas public schools as a result of the Perry/Khan agreement. And now Spencer is claiming that the Wiltse lesson plan is irrelevant because it is classroom material drawn up as a result of the Perry/Khan agreement.
I mean…wasn’t that the whole point? To find out what was actually being used in the classrooms? And now that’s irrelevant? This entire controversy was about whether pro-Sharia materials that were created as a result of the MHCP were being used in Texas public schools. And now Spencer, knowing that his buddy Geller has been lying, declares that the materials used in the schools as a result of the MHCP are irrelevant.
Robert Spencer doesn’t make me want a stiff drink – I’d have wanted one anyway. But he will be responsible for my second one.
Pam Geller is a liar. I’m not going to dignify her insults to Ace, Commentary, and RedState by repeating them here. But I sure as hell will repeat the insult she directed toward me! In her August 27 post, she called me a “no-name asshat trying to make his bones on this controversy.” Now, I could respond to that idiotic slur by reminding her that I was getting conservative op-eds published in the L.A. Times long before the word “blog” was ever coined. I could do that, but I won’t (see what I did there?).
Instead, I will thank Ms. Geller for making my weekend with that wonderful nickname! My friends and I have had too much fun laughing at it. In my social circle, it’s already taken on a life of its own…you might say, it’s become our own personal meme.
These days, that’s Ms. Geller’s strength; creating colorful, ridiculous memes. And while I’m happy to demolish the one she created about Rick Perry, I’m pleased-as-punch to embrace the one she created for me!