Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is defending the right of political activist Pamela Geller to offer cash for cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but the likely Republican presidential candidate is declining to call Geller's actions heroic.
In a May 3 shootout near Dallas that cut short Geller's provocative cartoon contest, praise for heroism should go to the police officer who was initially credited with taking out two Islamist gunmen, Bush said in an interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News that aired on Monday.
The Geller comments start at the 9:19 mark of the video.
Story continues below video.
In fact, the two attackers were shot and killed by members of a police SWAT team
and not a lone traffic officer working security, the Garland, Texas chief of police told reporters on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Bush's aim, in any case, was to salute law-enforcement professionals who prevented what could have been greater carnage at the Geller-sponsored event, called the Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest.
"The guy who's the real hero in this isn't Mrs. Geller.... It's the police officer who, unarmed with bulletproof vests, shot these two guys dead," said Bush.
"I'd like to see him on your show," he said, "because that's the guy we ought to admire — because imagine what would have happened had he not done his job."
The assault on an event touted as a celebration of free speech recalled the massacre in January at the Paris offices of a satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, that had published several cartoons of the prophet in defiance of Muslim sensitivities.
The Paris gunmen said they were avenging insults against the prophet.
Bush said he thinks that "freedom of expression trumps everything else" but he also said of Geller and her colleagues, "It doesn't mean it's necessarily appropriate to do what they did."
"Why is it inappropriate?" said Kelly. "Why not stand up to the terrorists and say, 'We're going to draw what we want to draw?'"
Bush said that Geller has that right, but that the bigger problem is homegrown terrorism enabled by social media. With his remarks to Kelly, Bush joined a list of conservatives who have either criticized or questioned Geller for staging the contest to draw attention to violent radical Islamism.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.