Free speech shut down, intolerance…what’s really going on?
By Elsa Maxey
“We were not protesting in hopes to shut down the speech,” says Co-Chair of the Sugar Land Democrats Club Deron Patterson of last week’s Tuesday visit from political activist Pamela Geller for a book signing organized by the Sugar Land Tea Party.
This Tuesday, Patterson writes in an email, “Ole Pammy is 2 for 2.” Reportedly, the Hutton Hotel in Nashville canceled what was termed an anti-Shariah conference entitled “Preserving Freedom” to include a workshop on organizing opposition to mosques set for Nov. 11, after learning about the event’s agenda and receiving complaints from the public and clients. Geller was one of the speakers and in her blog, she states that the hotel is now sharia-compliant.
“This is the second time in no less than a week that a major hotel has capitulated to intimidation and demands to enforce the blasphemy laws under the sharia here in America,” she states. In her reference to the second time, she is referring to last week’s visit here.
An estimated 30 people showed up with signs and American flags to the Sugar Land Community Center that housed a diverse group of about 200 that included Muslims in attendance at the tea party event. Patterson said it was “for our right to clearly show the community of Sugar Land that we stand for diversity and respect in our community.” He also said that the group was not surprised to see a few Republicans join them in their protest.
But they were also there to object to Geller’s visit to Sugar Land. They held up signs that read “SL Dems Embrace All, Republicans Against Bigots” and others, and they stood alongside Matlage Road not to obstruct the right of way in the presence of Sugar Land police, who were also indoors.
Geller arrived early to her scheduled event that had been abruptly relocated the day before from the Hyatt Place because the management of the hotel somehow learned that Geller’s opponents planned to protest. “The Sugar Land Democrats Club never contacted the Hyatt Place Hotel management,” said Patterson this week. “We also never complained about the Hyatt Place Hotel in Sugar Land holding the event,” he said. But, somehow, the hotel knew there would be a demonstration. Some reports indicate that organizers were asked to find a different location when protesters said they’d picket in front of the hotel.
Patterson also said, “the owners of the Hyatt Place Hotel are free to set business practices as they see fit,” and maintains that the event was cancelled as a business decision. So, it was not Geller’s visit per se affecting the move to an alternative location, but rather the hotel manager’s decision about what could be a business disruption affiliated with the event, meaning the demonstration.
Patterson says, “Would you want to support the Hyatt Place Hotel if they held events for the Nazi Party or the Klu Klux Klan? Bigotry is not good for business.”
Geller said that “giving tea party organizers little time to find a new venue, the Hyatt Place in Sugar Land caved to Islamic pressure,” asking for a boycott.
Geller’s book promotion focused on the dangers of Islam and before her address, she visited one-on-one with members of the Tea party and guests, including members of the Clear Lake Tea Party. This is the group that scheduled Herman Cain to be its keynote speaker this Tuesday.
Geller signed copies of her new book Stop the Islamization of America, and said she is not anti-Islam, but rather against what she calls the “Islamization” of the United States and restrictions on freedoms.
Last week on Thursday on behalf of the hotel, a Hyatt spokeswoman sent an apology about requesting the Sugar Land Tea Party to move its event featuring Pam Geller.
Geller said cancelling the event by the hotel is a setback to free speech and “a stunning surrender to Islamic supremacism.” This is in contrast to what the Sugar Land Democrats Club said. “The voice of diversity has won out over the voice of hate and fear mongering.”
It is 2 for 2. What do you think?
Patterson, by the way, is calling for public statements from the local elected leaders and candidates on their position on Pamela Geller.