Inoffensive Savagery

When is the word "savage" not racist and offensive?

In Tunisian citizen Souhir Stephenson's "Tunisia, a Sad Year Later," published last Wednesday in the New York Times, she wrote: "Tourism is dwindling. Who wants to vacation among bands of bearded savages raiding embassies, staking their black pirate flag over universities or burning trucks carrying beer?"

"Bearded savages." This appeared in the Times just six weeks after the paper ran a piece calling my American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) subway ads "potentially inflammatory" and quoting Muneer Awad of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) calling me "a bigot and a racist" for the ad, which reads: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad."

Indeed, this ad touched off a nationwide firestorm, with pundits and activists all over the country excoriating me for using the word "savage" to describe Islamic jihadists and supremacists. CNN "journalist" Mona Eltahawy was actually caught in the act of spray-painting over the ad, and was arrested, after which little act of fascism she had the gall to claim that she was merely exercising her freedom of speech.

What is the difference between the New York Times's use of the word savage and the AFDI use?

Or Hillary Clinton's, for that matter? In a statement on September 12, she used the same word to characterize those who had attacked our consulate in Benghazi and murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American officials: "This was an attack by a small and savage group -- not the people or Government of Libya."

Is Clinton's use of the word savage offensive?

In all of these instances, we are all describing the same barbarians: Islamic jihadists who glory in violence and murder. So why is my ad unacceptable, but no one is angry with Souhir Stephenson or the Secretary of State?

My use of the word "savage" has been widely decried as "racist" and "dehumanizing." Critics have invoked the use of the term to describe Native Americans and others in attempts to prove that any use of it is clear evidence of racist and even genocidal inclinations. But is any and every use of the word "savage" really some kind of thinly veiled call for genocide? Nonsense. Franklin Delano Roosevelt called the Nazis "savages." And they were. Would Muneer Awad call him "a bigot and a racist" as well?

Nor do the critics of the AFDI ad have anything at all to say about the very real savagery that is committed in the name of the jihad against Israel. And that in itself raises questions about their real agenda. The AFDI ad refers not to all Muslims, as has often been claimed, but to those jihadis who rejoice in the murders of innocent civilians. The war on Israel is a war on innocent civilians. The targeting of civilians is savage. The murder of Ambassador Stevens was savage. The relentless 60-year campaign of terror against the Jewish people is savage. The torture of hostage Gilad Shalit was savage. The bloody hacking to death of the Fogel family was savage. The Munich Olympic massacre was savage. The unspeakable torture of Ehud Goldwasser was savage. The tens of thousands of rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel (into schools, homes, etc.) are savage. The vicious Jew-hatred behind this genocide is savage. The endless demonization of the Jewish people in the Palestinian and Arab media is savage. The refusal to recognize the state of Israel as a Jewish state is savage. The list is endless.

This kind of savagery goes on in the name of jihad on a daily basis around the world -- and my ads are the problem? Souhir Stephenson's piece in the Times demonstrates the hypocrisy of the ad's critics, and their moral myopia in identifying the resistance to savagery as worse than the savagery itself.

It is time for all genuine supporters of human rights to stand against the savagery that Hillary Clinton identified in Libya and that Souhir Stephenson rightly excoriates in Tunisia, and that is regularly celebrated as heroism in Gaza. But do the guardians of acceptable opinion have the courage to be consistent?

Note: I submitted this piece as an op-ed to the New York Times last week, after the Times attacked me for using the word "savage" of jihadists and then using it themselves. Predictably, they never responded. So that just adds to this tale of media bias and irresponsibility.

Pamela Geller is the publisher of and the author of the WND Books title Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance.

If you experience technical problems, please write to