The Times reports that MTA buses will soon carry the ad above, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a meaningless jumble of words opposed to the construction of a combination Muslim place of worship/community resource center/gymnasium a couple of blocks from the former location of the World Trade Center.
The project, misleadingly labeled “The Ground Zero Mosque,” has been a target of conservative ire in recent weeks, as demagogues stir up anti-Muslim sentiment less by condemning the project itself than by decrying the implied “too raw, too real” painful memories stirred up, arrogantly, by a moderately visible Muslim presence in the vicinity of a site attacked by other Muslims. (Islam, unique among the world’s major religions, has no major interpretive or ideological distinctions differentiating its 1.6 billion adherents.)
The MTA initially refused to accept the ads, but relented under threat of a first-amendment lawsuit (remember: advertising is speech!). (Previously, another disgusting ad.) An MTA board member told the Times, “The wonderful thing about our country is that people have a right to express themselves, as long as it doesn’t endanger anyone’s life. I support [the ad], even though I disagree with it vehemently.” Because cynically exploiting public ignorance to turn the American people against a growing sector of the population—and the world—in no way foments violence of any kind? I just fucking bet. You don’t have to give parade permits to Nazi groups, either, you know.
The ad’s impact will be minimal, luckily, as the MTA barely operates any buses anymore.