Yesterday morning the first controversial anti-Muslim posters appeared in the NYC Subway system after a fight to keep them out failed. The Staten Island News explains:
The ads are sponsored by Pamela Geller, an anti-Muslim blogger (Atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com) who opposed the Muslim American Society (MAS) in its unsuccessful attempt to open a center in Midland Beach — although the MAS ultimately established its current location in Dongan Hills.
The posters feature the following anti-Muslim slogan: ““In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
It makes me ill to think that there are people who feel completely justified in calling an entire population of fellow human beings “savages”. The only good thing about Geller’s use of this word is the fact that it’s trigger word for almost all racially-conscious Americans, evoking memories of the enslavement of African Americans and the genocide of the Native populations of the American continent, both of whom were systematically referred to as “savages”. Hopefully this word will help Americans quickly recognize exactly what Geller’s posters are: Pure, unadulterated hate speech.
So how did these posters come to be allowed in the New York Subway system? RBR.com has the details:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York initially refused to run Geller’s ad, saying it was “demeaning.” But U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled last month that it is protected speech under the First Amendment.
“Our hands are tied,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan told the AP. “Under our existing ad standards as modified by the injunction, the MTA is required to run the ad.”
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, backed publication of the “patently offensive” ads: “More offensive would be their censorship because that would violate the guarantee of free expression of all ideas regardless of how distasteful they are,” she said.
And while I agree that free speech should be allowed, I must admit that I cannot blame protestors who have been putting stickers across the ads labeling them just exactly what they are: Racism and Hate Speech.
An organization called Jews for Racial & Economic Justice offers a guide for how we can all help defeat hate speech, including:
2. Get your own word out! Make a sign countering the ads with a message of your own, snap a picture of you with your sign next to the ad, and tweet it out with the hashtags #MySubwayAd and #antihate. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post them on the JFREJ website!
Stations with ads up:
28th, 6 23rd, C, E
49th, N and R
42nd Grand Central, 4, 5, 6, 7
57th and 5th, 5
Note that this organization is not advocating defacing Geller’s posters, but merely placing another message next to it and snapping a photo. For more images of the “makeover” of the anti-Muslim posters, visit Mondoweiss.net.
What do you think of the NYC Subway ads presented by Pamela Geller? Should she have a right to spread hate speech and call an entire population names on the walls of a municipality?
Would the reaction be the same if, say, the KKK wanted to put up posters in the NYC Subway system that had slogans calling Black people “savages”?