Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bus Ads, Bigotry, and the Ground Zero Islamic Center

Dave Chappelle once did a bit in his stand up routine about hearing a comment that was so racist, even he was shocked. The bit is hilarious (it's in the brilliant "Killin' Them Softly"). Well, Chappelle would probably say something similar about the bus ad that just got approved by the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). Not just because he's a Muslim, or has obviously seen lots of racism in his life, but because...well...damn, this is so racist. It is clearly meant to stir some pure venomous hatred in the hearts of bigots and those who may not really be racist, but haven't had their socially-accepted racism corrected because of the openly anti-Islamic climate in America post-9/11, something I wrote about just a few days earlier. I kid you not, the MTA approved a bus ad from the American Freedom Defense Initiative (nice name for group putting out the worst kind of ad imaginable) that shows a picture of plane #2 about to smash into the already-burning WTC on 9/11 and links it directly with the image of the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero. It is what you see above...really. Yep, they're openly linking 9/11 to the Islamic Center.

So...yeah, that is one of the most outrageous ads I've ever seen. Apparently the MTA initially rejected the ad. But after a lawsuit, the MTA relented and approved the ad. Freedom of speech is one thing. But...this is outright racism of the worst kind. The ad has a single purpose...to take a visually upsetting image (the plane slamming into the WTC) and directly connecting it to the proposed Islamic Center. As if the two are directly linked.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, linked with the Stop Islamization of America (whatever that means) group, is led by a prominent right-wing blogger who finds the ad unoffensive. Of course not. I can't see why it would be...except its an insanely exaggerated connection meant to stir up racism and hatred, since there is absolutely no real connection between the proposed Islamic Center and 9/11. That would be like blaming every single white person today for slavery, or every Christian for the majority of wars in the history of the world. While those sound like fun ideas, they have no basis, and trying to seriously promote those ideas would be massively irresponsible and outrageous. Just like this ad.

A mayoral appointee to the MTA, John Banks, supported the approval of the ad, even though he objected to the content. His argument is, I quote, "the wonderful thing about our country is that people have a right to express themselves, as long as it doesn’t endanger anyone’s life." Well, let's just see if it doesn't endanger anyone's life. Because its not like Americans have attacked innocent Muslims before when tolerance was thrown out of the window...like, you know, after the Oklahoma city bombing and 9/11. No, totally never happened. And is it wonderful that we have so much free speech that we can just put out ridiculously racist ads? What are we, Swiss?

Does that mean any group can put out anything? I mean, I know we have racist legislation in parts of the country (see: Arizona immigration bill), but that's in a state that refused to recognize Martin Luther King day until just a few years ago. This ad has no real basis to it at all. Maybe this means all of those who have been wronged horribly by this country (Native Americans, African Americans, Japanese Americans, Arab Americans, Hispanics, etc.) will have no problem creating ads that document actual history, versus this made-up racist nonsense. Who am I kidding...no way those would get approved. America is far too tolerant a society to allow such attacks. Unless they're against Muslims.

1 comment:

Maia Dobson said...

I agree that it shouldn't be that easy to put up such ads. It could influence those innocent kids if ads in this taste be posted on buses. I hope there would be regulation for advertising agency in New York for allowing these ads be public.