Guess I wasn’t paying attention to the run-up to yesterday’s violence in Garland, Texas, but turns out Pamela Geller wasn’t the only agent provocateur involved. As you may have heard, the famous Dutch Islamophobic politician Geert Wilders was on hand in Garland, and may have even been the target for the now-deceased shooters. But he was in the U.S. at the invitation of exactly the kind of people you might expect (per Dave Weigel):

Last week, Iowa Representative Steve King brought Dutch politician and speaker Geert Wilders to Washington for a series of briefings with conservatives. The visited culminated in a daytime, outdoor news conference, where King, Wilders, and Texas Representative Louie Gohmert took 30 minutes of questions. Many focused on Wilders’s criticism of Islam as not a religion, but a violent ideology that had to be defeated. King kept bringing the discussion back to free speech.

“He brings with him a message of the experiences they had in Western Europe,” said King. “Open dialogue is what’s taking place.”

Just days later, gunmen opened fire on a Garland, Texas, contest that encouraged attendees to draw the prophet Muhammad, in defiance of Muslim extremists who claim that any such portrayal is offensive. “I have been dragged to court on hate speech charges for speaking the truth about Islam. I was acquitted, but now the authorities are prosecuting me again,” said Wilders. “We are harassed, but sympathizers of the Islamic State are left in peace.”

I’ll say it again: Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders are protected by the First Amendment, and obviously no one has a right to try to forceably silence them, by gunfire or any other method. But they, and King, and Gohmert, where clearly trying to provoke a reaction that justifies their efforts to demonize Islam and shut down immigration, and they succeeded on this occasion.

Weigel says Republican pols are being cautious about accepting IS’s claim of responsibility for the attacks in Garland. That’s the first responsible thing I’ve heard from them on this subject in a good while. Wish I believed it would stick.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.