Remember that subway poster that compared Muslims to savages and called for supporting Israel in order to “defeat Jihad”? The group behind that sloganeering, the American Defense Freedom Initiative (AFDI), is back with a second, even more inflammatory ad that the MTA is explicitly disavowing.
The new ad, which was published in a New York Times article, features a quote from the Quran, “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers,” next to an image of the Twin Towers engulfed in flames.
Once again, the ad ties Islam and the teachings of the Quran directly to terrorist activity. Unlike the first ad, however, the new one features a hefty disclaimer from the city’s MTA, written on the bottom quarter of the image: “The display of this advertisement does not imply MTA’s endorsement of any views expressed.”
The added text is an important step, but it’s hard not to view the advertisements as hate speech. Yet AFDI actually won a federal court case in July, defending its campaigns as protected under free speech. Last September, the MTA changed its advertising policy in an attempt to defend against projects like the AFDI’s, banning ads that “would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace.” They have a point — an activist was arrested for spray-painting the earlier AFDI advertisements.
The group’s new ad buy amounts to more than $10,000 worth of space, reports the Observer, and the Times adds that they will be displayed next to clocks on the ceilings of subway stations, so they’ll be much harder to reach for would-be vandals. Though the disclaimer prevents some misinterpretation of the ad, it’s clear that the MTA’s new rules haven’t done anything to prevent this latest round.
One way that the new ads could be balanced out, however, is with even more advertising. AFDI’s earlier push was met with an ad by Rabbis for Human Rights pushing for mutual respect between human beings: “In the choice between love and hate, choose love.” That’s something we can all get behind.
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