Sunday, November 18, 2012

Anti-Muslim Ads Appearing On CTA Buses

On Wednesday, November 14, a series of Islamophobic ads appeared on CTA buses.  These ads, paid for by Pamela Geller's anti-Islam group American Freedom Defense Initiative, are similar to those that have sparked controversy in several other major U.S. cities.

How should this situation be dealt with? 

As anti-authoritarians, and as folks who, to put it lightly, disregard law in the struggle against oppression, we do not seek for these ads to be removed via any legalistic means. Does this mean we think racism should be tolerated? Hell no. We wouldn't be angered in the least if the CTA refused to run these ads, however, we wish to see a different approach to challenging this Islamophobic propaganda. We would like to see a situation in which people were outraged enough that they would take it upon themselves to deface racist advertisements and silence organized bigots.

The racists, by law, can say whatever they want… but they should not be surprised if the people who wish not to live in a racist world do something about it. Folks like those who shut down a gathering of white supremacists in Tinley Park, IL, earlier this year understand this, and should be praised for engaging with the racists directly and not appealing to the state to intervene in their affairs. Reliance on the state weakens the ability of autonomous social movements to bring about the changes necessary to overthrow the rotten systems of white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism that we live under.

We see any attack by the state against any political faction, even ones we disagree with,  as an attack that can be and has been already used against us. We see the state as our enemy just as we do the racists. It's up to us, anti-authoritarians, anti-capitalists, and anti-fascists, to defeat all forms of opposition to a class, free society and an end to white supremacy and patriarchy.

Pamela G Geller
330 E 57th St, Apt 4
New York, NY 10022-2920

 Taken from the Chicago Tribune:
'Jihad' ads on CTA buses spark outrage 

The controversial ads unveiled on the back of 10 CTA buses Wednesday read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” They conclude with the words, “Support Copts. Defeat Jihad,” referring to friction between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Within hours of the buses' first runs, messages appeared on Facebook and Twitter denouncing the campaign. Many said degrading a spiritual tenet of Islam -- one that refers to a Muslim's personal quest to become a better person -- amounts to hate speech.

“This whole campaign insinuates Muslims are violent,” said Asaf Bar-Tura, programs director for the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, which protested the ads on social media Wednesday. “If it's within their legal powers, (CTA) should either not put it up because they incite hate and stereotypical thinking or put a label next to each sign saying `The CTA disagrees with this ad.’ ”

So far, federal judges have sided with the advertisement's sponsor, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which sued transit authorities in New York City and Washington, D.C., when they initially rejected the ads. Those judges ruled that public forums such as buses and trains can't bar advertising entitled to First Amendment protection.

Pamela Geller, executive director of the initiative, said she believes the Jewish Council has good intentions, but denies that her ad qualifies as hate speech.

"There’s nothing hateful about it," she said in an e-mail. "9/11 was hate. 3/11 in Madrid was hate. ... The Christmas underwear bomber was hate. ... Pushing back against such hate is not hate."

"Perhaps this is the strangest thing of all: their utter lack of awareness, or denial, of the barrel pointed straight between their eyes," Geller said. "It is an odd combination of naivete, brainwashing and self-loathing that I will never comprehend."

Although Geller posted on her blog "Atlas Shrugs" a letter from her lawyer threatening legal action against CTA if they didn’t place the ads, Brian Steele, a spokesman for the CTA, denied that the CTA was threatened with a lawsuit. But the precedents did deter the CTA from rejecting the ads, which are expected to run on different routes each day for the next four weeks.

“While those courts agreed that the AFDI ads violate anti-disparagement or anti-demeaning standards similar to CTA's, that violation in and of itself did not remove AFDI's First Amendment protection to place the ads,” Steele said in a statement.

“CTA understands that this ad may be offensive to our customers,” he added. “While the courts have ruled this ad is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, we object to its divisive message.”

The estimated ad revenue is about $4,500, a spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said the group expects to launch its own nationwide ad campaign next week. As part of the campaign called “My Jihad,” individual Muslims define what the spiritual concept means for them.

“I don't feel the urge to fight … I'd rather put out the alternative,” Rehab said. “People can decide what racism is.”

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