MSNBC Terrorism Expert Kohlmann Indirectly Compares Pam Geller to Nazis By Invoking Reichstag Fire

May 7th, 2015 8:29 PM

MSNBC terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann insisted on tonight's Hardball program that Pam Geller was dangerously close to committing "hate crimes" with her "draw Muhammad" events. Kohlmann also compared the Jewish co-founder of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) to the Nazis by way of invoking the Reichstag fire that the Nazis set as in February 1933 as a pretext to seizing power.

For his part, host Chris Matthews failed to rebuke Kohlmann for his incendiary comparison.

Here's the relevant transcript (emphases mine): 

May 7, 2015
7:09 p.m. Eastern

EVAN KOHLMANN: And I would say to Geller, look, you have the right to do this. But you also have a responsibility. Freedom of speech is a very serious right and it comes with a responsibility. You have a responsibility to act in a way that is restrained, according to fact.

And simply yelling at someone and saying terribly nasty things at someone, look, and then to complain about the fact that someone reacts violently to that, to me, that's like lighting the Reichstag on fire and then complaining that your fingers got singed. 

You cannot infringe upon someone else's freedom of expression, you cannot infringe upon someone else's freedom of speech and then claim it is you who is the victim. It does not work that way. No one has the right to commit acts of violence in the act of faith. No one has the right to commit acts of violence because someone says something offensive.

But people that exercise the freedom of speech also have a responsibility to understand that words have meaning. And that they can cause harm. And that's why we have libel laws. That's why we have defamation laws. And that's why we have hate crime laws. And I would suggest that what Pamela Geller is doing comes in some cases quite close to what is normally defined as a hate crime.

Among other things, you may notice Kohlmann asserted that Geller "infringe[d] upon someone else's freedom of speech" only to "claim it is you who is the victim." Kohlmann, of course, failed to substantiate that claim, and it's particularly laughable in light of Geller's appearing last night on the Hannity program on Fox News Channel to defend United Kingdom-based Islamist preacher and Shariah-law advocate Anjem Choudary.