"A conservative blogger who once headed a campaign against an Islamic center near the Sept. 11th terror attack site won a court order to post the ad in 10 subway stations on Monday. It reads, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."In July, U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled that advertisements criticizing Jihad are protected under the law and are allowed to appear in our public subways. My upset and alarm are hastened by the stupidity of those who hold the interpretation of American law in their power. It also highlights the marriage between privilege and capitalistic power as a grotesque display and serves to reveal the great divide between the haves and the have-nots in NYC. It is a chasm so wide here that plain common sense has no bridge.
When a first body exerts a force F1 on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force F2 = −F1 on the first body. This means that F1 and F2 are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.Never smart enough to pass a physics class, I get this very basic premise, and don't understand why Judge Englemayer hasn't taken into account, that:
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
Allowing ads that target any religious group negatively is prejudiced, racist and biased. It amounts to hate speech.
I am really bothered by the money behind certain people who get to express First Amendment protections in publicly funded spaces. Their money affords them to infringe upon the sensibilities of the rest of us broke folk who can't avoid their messages, and yet have no protection from them, or consideration to our plight. There is simply no escaping visual and audio imagery in NYC's public corridors, air space and transit system. There is no turning off our eyes and ears (sans earbuds)— which really makes us not only automatic receivers, but also victims.
Graffiti artists are not allowed to post their ideas on the subway without buying the right. And screamers of every kind get arrested for disturbing the peace if they haven't paid and been "approved" for a permit.
There's something very wrong in this society when it boils down to who can afford to have an opinion in the form of a un-invited message to the entire public. . .and who can't.
So often used in the news, I admit to not exactly knowing or understanding what "Jihad" meant, and found this explanation useful in advancing my thinking: (Forgive me for resorting to the ease of Wikopedia)
"Mahatma Gandhi's satyagraha struggle for Indian independence is called a 'jihad' in Modern Standard Arabic (as well as many other dialects of Arabic); the terminology is also applied to the fight for women's liberation.
The term 'jihad' has accrued both violent and non-violent meanings. It can simply mean striving to live a moral and virtuous life, spreading and defending Islam as well as fighting injustice and oppression, among other things.
The relative importance of these two forms of jihad is a matter of controversy.
A poll by Gallup showed that a 'significant majority' of Muslim Indonesians define the term to mean 'sacrificing one's life for the sake of Islam/God/a just cause' or 'fighting against the opponents of Islam.' In Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, and Morocco, the majority used the term to mean 'duty toward God,' a 'divine duty,' or a 'worship of God,' with no militaristic connotations. Other responses referenced, in descending order of prevalence:Permitting narrow minds and moneyed people to brand Jihad in only the worst way so that every individual who follows Islam is said to be a savage terrorist, is both stupid and dangerous. Insignificant to the court seems the fact that our US foreign policies have created enemies in the Middle East for everyone in this nation— even if we don't feel as the politicians do that 9/11 is just cause to hate; and seek revenge upon the totality of the Muslim world.
- 'A commitment to hard work' and 'achieving one's goals in life'
- 'Struggling to achieve a noble cause'
- 'Promoting peace, harmony or cooperation, and assisting others'
- 'Living the principles of Islam'
Creating negative advertisements about Jihad and allowing this racist, prejudicial material to be placed underground, is not only to invite a reaction, but to dare one. Common sense says it's exactly this kind of immoral taunting that provokes extremely retaliatory acts of violence. My friend, human rights mentor and brain-trust member of The MANY, Ellen Raider, told me the ads are like screaming "fire" in a packed movie house. Somebody is going to get hurt.
Has Judge Engelmayer forgotten that extremists blew up London's Underground subway system in 2005 that killed 56 innocent people and injured 700? Or that 1,800 people were injured, and 190 died because terrorists plotted against Spain's innocent train commuters?
Hasn't the court been paying attention to world news? A film made in California and released on the Internet just resulted in the recent murder of Americans, and caused untold death, turmoil and suffering to countless human beings in the Middle East.
Mother wisdom and common sense cause me to think of what this all means to everyday, innocent New Yorkers. Cryrus McGoldrick, a Muslim director of the NY chapter on the Council on American-Islamic Relations is quoted as saying the ads represent "the language of war" and are "divisive propaganda."
I have been afraid of the subways ever since 9/11, and like everyone else here, I swallow down that fear and confront the dangers lurking below in order to get from point A to point B only because I have no other option.
Now my fear has escalated to the max over thousands of children who use our underground system everyday-- unescorted by an adult-- in order to reach their schools.
If there wasn't a good enough reason before to fight like hell for excellent, and equitably resourced K-12 public schools in EVERY neighborhood, in every zipcode, this is it. Children are criss-crossing the city everyday to get to distant schools far from home, but who has the onus for ensuring their safety on public transportation?
Freedom of speech is a protected right in America, but somehow-- somewhere in the interpretation of constitutional law -- someone has to be smart enough and humane enough to take into account the dangers of protecting that freedom, while also protecting the most vulnerable among us: OUR CHILDREN.
What does it take to amend the law with a clause that says, speak freely, but you may not do so ANYWHERE you please? Some places just have to be off limits for messages that have the obvious potential of disturbing peace.
Like our transit system.
I'm for no signage other than ads about NYC and state on subways and buses. I don't want to be visually bombarded with ads for Dr. Zizmore, abortions or adoptions anymore. I don't want to see ads that promote politics of any kind, nothing having to do with religion, materialism or capitalism. I want no visual or audio assaults of any kind other than the glorious parade of people and the noise of the subway create. Maybe select musicians will be OK, but no singers, dancers or acrobats. As for the venue that will be lost? Let the MTA's head executives accept a sizable cut to their bloated salaries.
I venture to guess that Judge Englemayer and others with the power to interpret law— and thus, preside over the safety of millions of lives, isn't using the subway as his only means of transportation. In this society, his echelon has options.
I also venture to further guess that those options allow his children (if he has any) the privilege of attending private schools near their homes. Too broke to be a betting mom, I'll even wager that the Engelmayer children are not sent to school riding public transportation by themselves because there is NO OTHER option for getting their education.
I close with this prayer:
Please God, help and protect our most vulnerable residents, NYC's children from any retaliatory attacks of violence for this egregious stupidity on the part of our skewed system of justice. Keep safe all travelers, pedestrians and workers. Please keep religious extremists, who are sure to be offended by the critical ads and outrageous propaganda, from imposing harm upon innocent people.
Please God, look after our nation's children. . . because those who hold the power in this country, aren't going to.
Here's the first article I read explaining the court ruling:
Ads criticizing "Jihad" bound for New York City subway stations