At the self-described “most fab party at the RNC” Tuesday night, Islamophobe provocateur Pamela Geller, not renowned as a stand-up comedian, opened with a joke.
“A jihadi walks into a bar. The bartender says ‘What’ll you have?” The jihadi says: ‘Shots for everyone!’”
The friendly crowd guffawed, then leaned in for one of Geller’s trademark anti-Islam stemwinders. But there was a twist. In a tank top adorned with a rainbow and the words “Love wins,” Geller came to join gay conservative, anti-feminist bad boy Milo Yiannopoulos in launching a new alliance, uniting gays and right-wing, anti-Muslim activists (Yiannopoulos is both). In the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, they think it’s a natural. Killer Omar Mateen claimed the shooting as a blow for ISIS, though it probably had more to do with his own tortured sexual identity and history of mental problems than with his Muslim background. But Tuesday night’s event denounced the liberal establishment that one speaker claimed “cares more about the rights of Muslims than murdered gay people.” Orlando, this alliance argues, was just the first shot in a coming Muslim crusade against LGBT Americans, and gays should know who their real allies are. To Geller and Yiannopoulous, they include Donald Trump, the man Yiannopolous playfully calls “Daddy.”
That sounds dire, but mostly people had turned out to party—and worship the cult hero Milo, who hours before had been permanently banned from Twitter, reportedly for his role in ginning up the racist, sexist harassment of Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones. “With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives,” Yiannopolous said in a statement. He took the stage to chants of “Milo, Milo, Milo!” from the mainly male, entirely white crowd (the only black person I saw was a reporter).
Before Geller and Yiannopolous spoke, the crowd welcomed the notorious Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who runs the anti-immigrant Dutch Party for Freedom. Wilders, a Trump admirer, was banned from entering Britain in 2009 for his Islamophobia (the decision was reversed in 2010) but was welcome here in Cleveland. He denounced politicians who “are Chamberlains when we need Churchills,” called Europe “Eurabia,” and said both the United States and Europe are at risk from Muslim residents who’ve traveled to train with ISIS but are allowed to return home anyway.
“Sharia means hate,” Wilders declared, adding “Islam has no place in a free society.” Wilders’s party is leading in the polls. “I could become the next prime minister,” he told the crowd. “I don’t want more Muslims in the Netherlands.” Some in the crowd didn’t seem to know who he was when he began, but Wilders left the stage to chants of “Geert, Geert, Geert.”