Countering Hateful Advertisements in DC Metro Stations
By Damian Morden-Snipper on 10/11/2012 @ 02:00 PM
Imagine this: you’re headed home on the Metro train after a long Monday at work in downtown DC. You’re surrounded by people with blank looks on their faces. But, your boss’s compliments on the report you handed in this afternoon and thoughts of a nice dinner with your family ease your exhaustion.
Your happy mood is dashed as you get off the train, however, when you see a freshly placed advertisement condemning your religion. The public display of hateful speech directed at you freezes you in place. You trudge off after the crowd a few moments later, burning with a hurt and shame that won’t go away for the rest of the night. The next morning, and for the rest of the month, you’ll have to endure the advertisement all over again.
This is what I pictured when I saw the anti-Islam ads posted in the Metro this week. The ads read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” The ads link Islam with savagery and call for the “defeat” of Muslims – a hateful and inflammatory sentiment. A District judge ordered a reluctant Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, the organization that runs the DC Metro) to put up the ads on the grounds that they are protected by the first amendment right to free speech.
I’m not an expert on constitutional law, but as a Quaker I believe that there is that of God in everyone. This attempt to dehumanize and demonize other people deeply offends me. Nobody should have to endure such hateful words like those in the ads, and American Muslims are increasingly targeted for hate crimes; these ads support further violence. But seeing them also makes me want to spread a counter-message – one of love and recognition of the divine spark in us all.
I know that WMATA cannot take down the ads because of the court order. But I did contact WMATA and urge the agency not to profit from them, instead donating the revenue from the ads to an appropriate DC human rights organization to support investigations into allegations of discrimination in the city.
If you are concerned about these ads, you can do the same. Submit your comments to WMATA and write a letter to the editor.
Read the FCNL General Committee’s epistle regarding Quakers and Islam.