Right-wing blogger Pamela Geller, Executive Director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, has purchased advertising space in several New York City subway stations to display her anti-Islam message. The graphic ads feature the former New York skyline with World Trade Center Towers I and II ablaze, as they were on September 11, 2001, when terrorists struck. Accompanying the pictures is a quote from the Quran that reads: “Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers.”
Geller – whose multiple web sites include “Atlas Shrugs,” Rick Santorum’s substitute for the Catholic Church – has long railed against the Muslim faith; warning about the ongoing “Islamization of America.” Geller worked with New York’s Metro Transit Authority, which manages the subway space, to post the ads. MTA denies any subliminal endorsement. “This is a paid advertisement sponsored by American Freedom Defense Initiative,” an official MTA disclaimer reads. “The display of this advertisement does not imply MTA’s endorsement of any views expressed.”
Geller and AFDI went crazy with anti-Islamic ads last year; the 10th anniversary of the 09/11 attacks. Another round of them this past September prompted an Egyptian-American journalist, Mona Eltahawy, to deface one particular ad, which equated Muslims with savages. It had stated: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” It added, “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad,” in between two Stars of David. Eltahawy, 45, was videotaped spray-painting the advertisement and subsequently arrested. Every other ad in that series also ended up defaced.
The MTA had addressed salacious advertising at its monthly board meeting; trying to amend its guidelines to refuse “demeaning” ads and rules that would prohibit “images or information that demean an individual or group of individuals on account of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation.” Their regulations collided with the constitutional protections of free speech; thus, the new disclaimers.
Geller is unrepentant. “I refuse to abridge my free speech so as to appease savages,” she told The New York Observer. “Thousands of anti-Israel ads have run across the city and not one has been defaced. My ads, 10 went up in New York City, and they were destroyed in hours. You don’t agree with me, fine; run an ad. I have no problem with other people’s ideas.”
There you go! That’s the Hanukkah / Christmas spirit!