The MUNI ads use language that is hate speech. By framing it as civilized man vs savage man, the ads draw upon racism and fear. This hate speech will incite hatred and violence, and it should not be on our buses.
Thank you for condemning MUNI ads that are hate speech and promote violence. Much more needed.
Dear Members of the MTA Board: Thank you for reading this letter. It has recently come to my attention that several MUNI buses are now running advertisements from the American Freedom Defense Initiative which describe people as "savages." Here is a little history about the sponsor of the ad, the American Freedom Defense Initiative: * The American Freedom Defense Initiative is run by Pam Geller and Robert Spencer. Among the projects of the AFDI is one that has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "hate group," and has been labeled "extremist" by the Anti-Defamation League—the latter of which is a Jewish organization which fights anti-Semitism. * Geller has described the label of "hate group" as a "badge of honor." Geller's classier quotes include, "Obama is a third worlder and a coward. He will do nothing but beat up on our friends to appease his Islamic overlords." and "Islam… is the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth." Geller also believes that Black South African are engaged in the "genocide" of white South Africans. * Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of the 2011 mass murder in Norway, cites both Geller and Spencer in his 1,500-page manifesto against Islam. I am very grateful that you have condemned the Islamophobic and implicitly racist messages on the buses and are giving the proceeds to the Human Rights Commission, a local agency that monitors and promotes human rights. With recent events such as the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting and the Missouri Mosque burning we need to stop hate in it's tracks. We need to stop the politics of fear and show people that we are all the same. We Are All Muslims. In this month of Ramadan—the holiest of months for our fellow San Franciscans who adhere to Islam—I ask that you go farther. The condemnation of the ads is a partial victory. We believe much more is needed. Many had heard that the SFMTA planned to put up ads next to those ads condemning them. I would have considered that more of a victory. Much as I support the Human Rights Commission, putting money into HRC doesn't come close to mitigating the damage these ads can do, and I believe there needs to be a more direct, ongoing condemnation in the form of ads on the buses denouncing hate speech and violence against Muslims as it is clear that the ads were designed to intimidate the Muslim Community. While I respect the importance of free expression even for offensive speech, during the last two weeks there have been more than eight attacks on mosques and Islamic institutions, We need a response that directly address Islamophobia and not merely diversity generally. Thank you.