Pamela Geller’s “Little Darlings”

4 Nov 2010

DARLING: Old English deorling, “favorite minion.”

All writers love their children, I suppose.

Lewis Carroll had his portmanteau words, like vorpal, manxome, and frabjous. Robert Frost used what he called “the sound of sense.” Truman Capote once said, “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make.” And both Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King used rhythm, repetition, and other tropes to great effect in their speeches.

Even Pam Geller, of the blog Atlas Shrugs, has a kind of parental affection for some of her pet phrases. According to a recent article in The New York Times:

Like many writers, Ms. Geller is fond of what she calls her “little darlings”—rhetorical flourishes, such as accusing the imam behind Park51 of “totalitarian Khomeinism.”

Other Geller darlings have included the recent “stealth jihadist” and  “monster mosque,” and, my personal favorite, “Find the ho, give her a show,” about a crack whore whom Obama supposedly slept with several years ago. “I have an interesting play on words, sometimes,” Geller says. “If people like it, I think that’s great.”

And like it they do: Her darlings often get picked up by admiring media outlets, where they promptly start to burrow into the public rhetorical corpus. Take the furor over what she termed the “monster mosque” in New York. In the words of the NYT, “if many people have a general unease over the idea of a mosque downtown, Ms. Geller has provided a vocabulary to express it and a framework to understand it.” What writer wouldn’t want that kind of power for her creations?

One Geller admirer is Robert Spencer, of Jihad Watch:

Mr. Spencer worked with Ms. Geller on her book “The Post-American Presidency,” published this summer by Simon & Schuster for what she described as a six-figure advance. He helped her sober up her tone, she said, by removing those “little darlings,” in hopes of bolstering the credibility of her argument that Mr. Obama is “not only presiding over but actively promoting the decline of America.”

I hope the publisher knows about this. A Geller book without the darlings is a decidedly risky (and boring) proposition. If she ever were to “sober up her tone,” Simon & Schuster might be forced to ask for their money back, just as Random House once did to Joan Collins.

It’s tempting to think of Geller as a kind of Darth Vader of poetry, tapping into the Dark Side of connotation. But Vader respected The Force, and even loved it, in his way. I’d even like to be able to see her as a modern-day Sorcerer’s Apprentice, with enough power to start the broom walking, but not enough to control it.  Geller, however, has only a dim sense of where her darlings are coming from, and even less sense of the external world that they’re supposed to refer to. (Remember that darling, “jihad tool,” which was once hurled at Rachel Ray because she wore a kaffiyeh in a donut commercial?)

Being denotatively challenged often goes along with Libertarian politics, and really isn’t surprising coming from someone with a privileged past and a fairly work-free present. The NYT article describes Geller’s current home as a “full-floor unit in a high-rise on the East Side of Manhattan,” which was paid for by her husband, who “made certain that she had sufficient support to buy a co-op in the city and survive there without having to work.” And it ends with this head-slapper:

Just last week, Atlas called on readers to boycott Campbell’s soup after the company announced that it planned to certify some products as halal — the Muslim equivalent of kosher — with the supervision of a group that Ms. Geller considers a front for terrorists.

“Warhol,” she wrote, “is spinning in his grave.”

Warhol, of course, didn’t give a shit about what was inside Campbell’s soup, any more than he cared about what was inside a Brillo box, or inside Elvis. And if he is spinning in his grave, it’s because he’s happy to find that the endless duplication of meaningless sparkle, both visual and verbal, still hypnotizes much of America.

Appropriately enough, the article includes a graphic of Geller herself getting Warholed:

So if Geller’s not Lord Vader, and not sane, then what is she? I like to think of her as Nola Carveth, the charming female lead in David Cronenberg’s 1979 gorefest, The Brood. As played by Samantha Eggar, Carveth lives alone in a kind of high-end psychiatric office, where she spends the movie quietly and spontaneously producing an army of deadly offspring that ooze from her hate-infested body like flies. According to, they’re “a progeny of sexless, dwarflike mutants who are born for the sole purpose of acting out her violent fantasies of revenge.”

Sure, they look like children, at least from a distance, but if their mommy hates you—which is probably a given—then you wind up like this guy.

Film critic Anton Betel says of The Brood, “Even those who can see the end coming will be unprepared for the triumphant grotesquery of its spectacle, in what is one mother of a climax.” Here’s what he means:

Hello, darling. Welcome to the world, a world where your mom’s entire persona is built on a 50-year-old work of fiction, where everyone who wears a scarf is a murderer, and where your sibling, “Find the ho, give her a show,” can grow big and strong if enough people chant its name in unison.  Now go wield your vorpal blade against the Jabberwock.



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