When two apparent Muslim radicals attacked a Muhammad cartoon contest in a Dallas suburb this May, a national spotlight was focused on the group that hosted the provocative event — the American Freedom Defense Initiative, whose leader is Pamela Geller, the country’s most flamboyant and visible Muslim-basher.
The gunmen were killed by a police officer almost immediately as they tried to break into the event, although not before they wounded another officer in the leg. But in the aftermath of the jihadist attack, the national conversation turned not only to the dangers of radical Islam, but also to professional provocateurs like Geller. After all, although nothing she or her allies had said or done merited the violence, Geller had a long and infamous record of smearing and demonizing Muslims.
The radical right, and more broadly the political right, has generally been dominated by men. And there are certainly plenty of men in the world of Muslim-bashing activism — men like Robert Spencer, Geller’s partner; David Yerushalmi, who has led the charge against an imaginary plot to impose Shariah religious law in the United States; and a crew of terrorism “experts” who see Islam as the enemy.
But the universe of American anti-Muslim activists is peculiarly dominated by women. They are a mixed bag of bloggers, politicos, authors, TV personalities, radio talk show hosts, and leaders of anti-Muslim organizations. Many of them have other windmills to tilt at, from gay rights to communism to President Obama, but most have increasingly focused on attacking Muslims. That has been even truer in recent months, in the wake of the horrific Islamist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris and the many barbaric murders carried out by the Islamic State.
What follows are short profiles of a dozen of the most hardline anti-Muslim women activists in America. These are people who do not merely criticize radical Islam, but effectively describe all Muslims as part of a serious global problem.