Last month Pamela Geller, the founder of a designated anti-Muslim hate group, sponsored the placement of advertisements across New York train platforms that demonize Muslims and blame Islam for acts of violence across the world. The New York Times reports that Geller will place a similar ad in New York City this month that labels Muslims and Arabs as “savages.”
Instead of reacting to these hate ads after they have been displayed across our city’s transportation system, we are urging the New York MTA to implement policies that would mitigate the impact of the hate speech and discourage hate groups from using this form of advertisement in the future. The three steps proposed below have been implemented in other cities where Geller has used public transportation ads to promote hate speech.
First, we urge the MTA to redirect funds received from these hate groups to the New York Human Rights Commission. It is fitting that the money used to promote hatred and bigotry in these ads be redirected to a government entity devoted to defeating hatred and bigotry in our communities.
Second, we urge the MTA to place disclaimer advertisements near these hate ads that clearly state the MTA’s policy with regards to discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, national origin and gender, and clarify that the MTA does not endorse the hate speech displayed on its subway platforms.
Third, we urge the MTA to offer a public statement against the hate ads and the promotion of fear and bigotry in our communities. In light of last month’s reports of hate crimes at more than eight mosques across America (including a holiday prayer service in Staten Island), the vandalism of a Holocaust Memorial in Brooklyn, and the horrific massacre of Sikhs during a religious service at a gurdwara (Sikh house of worship) in Wisconsin, we believe it is necessary for public saftey that your agency clearly denounce these hate ads.
It is very important to all New Yorkers that the MTA clearly make every effort to marginalize hate speech instead of appearing to exploit it for advertisement revenue. We believe the three steps above can help protect the integrity of the MTA, the pride of our City, and the security of our citizens.