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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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19 Responses

  1. Ladeeda
    Ladeeda September 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm |

    Ugh, Pamela Geller. Stop being an ass; you’re not helping.

  2. Sharon Weisberg
    Sharon Weisberg September 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm |

    Anti-Muslim, anti-Chistian, antisemitic, anti- every religion messages are all over the the Internet, television and every other form of media. They don’t cause violence, any more than this blog’s calling anti-choicers “douchebags” causes them to kill ob/gyns who perform abortions. You really seem to be buying into the State Department’s lie that there’s some connection between the violence overseas and free speech in America. Maybe when the DOJ sends cops and FBI agents to your house at midnight to question you, like they did with the “Innocence” filmmaker, you’ll realize how wrongheaded your analysis is.

    1. Jadey
      Jadey September 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm |

      Well, except for all the racist violence that inflammatory rhetoric like this stirs up by creating targets out of Muslims (and Sikhs, as we were reminded this summer). Because calling someone a “savage” is different than calling them a “douchebag”.

      And your comparison makes even less sense then that – for it to be applicable at all, the targets of the violence would have to be the *anti-choice* protestors, not the ob/gyns. Because the hateful anti-choice rhetoric is what inflames violence against ob/gyns who perform abortions.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L September 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm |

      Give me a break. That “guy” is a convicted felon on parole, a professional fraudster, who was prohibited from using the Internet as a condition of parole. And who was so fucking brave about his free speech that he pretended to be Jewish and tried to put responsibility for the film on the fictional rich Jews who had supposedly provided the money. And perpetrated fraud on the actors by misrepresenting the nature of the movie. Not exactly John Peter Zenger, or otherwise a poster boy for victimization by a police state.

      And Pamela Geller is one of the very worst human beings around.

    3. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan September 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm |

      You really seem to be buying into the State Department’s lie that there’s some connection between the violence overseas and free speech in America.

      Yeah, I don’t buy this connection at all either. Maybe a bunch of Muslims are pissed off at the wars and poverty and oppression and shitty governments they have to live with, and found this rioting over free speech as an outlet, but I seriously doubt that free speech single-handedly caused this level of violence.

  3. Sharon Weisberg
    Sharon Weisberg September 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm |

    Jadey, the simple thesis is here is that calling Muslims “savages” will cause them to kill ambassadors and other folk. The thesis is NOT that violence against Muslims will result. You have it backwards.

    My point is that calling Muslims “savages” (or any name) doesn’t cause them to kill anybody, any more than calling anti-choicers “douchebags” (or any name) will cause them to kill OB/gyns.

    Donna, Nazis and racist and others who create speech you don’t like aren’t very sympathetic characters either. But America would be a police state if their speech could be chilled by sending state officials to harass them based on some imaginary connection between their speech and violence overseas.

    I’m sure Rev. Jeremiah Wrights and Rev. Farrakahn’s speeches upset some people. But if the Bush administration sent FBI agents to their homes to intimidate them it would be a clear violation of their rights.

    1. Jadey
      Jadey September 19, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

      Technical note: hitting the blue “reply” button at the top of the post you are replying to will keep your responses threaded and in order.

      Jadey, the simple thesis is here is that calling Muslims “savages” will cause them to kill ambassadors and other folk. The thesis is NOT that violence against Muslims will result. You have it backwards.

      My point is that calling Muslims “savages” (or any name) doesn’t cause them to kill anybody, any more than calling anti-choicers “douchebags” (or any name) will cause them to kill OB/gyns.

      Okay, I agree that these subway ads are not likely solely to blame for violent acts in another country (especially those which have chronologically preceded them), simply because there are already so many other factors at play. They do contribute to a general atmosphere of enmity, however, and will most likely contribute to the dehumanization of people of colour (which Muslims are routinely assumed to be) in the US and which has been empirically linked with increased tolerance for violence against people of colour. So I disagree that protecting hate speech is essential to protecting freedom of speech and a just society. As a queer woman and an activist, I’m fairly content with how my country has prioritized limiting hate speech and protecting citizens in a way that does not actually undermine social discourse or criticism of the government itself. This idea that any restriction on the expression of hatred is somehow a vicious assault on all freedom of expression does not wash with me.

    2. Henry
      Henry September 19, 2012 at 7:29 pm |

      I agree with your thesis Sharon that speech is not to be suppressed just because it is hateful, but the MTA does not need to run the ads, they have a choice as a corporation, albeit a public one, not to run certain ads – that’s the issue – must a public corp. allow thinly vieled hate ads. That does not infringe on Ms. Geller’s free speech, she can distribute her message on her own without government support – I don’t agree that public transit bulletin boards I am forced to read on my commute are the equivalent of public space – you are allowed to legally yell the N-word all you want in the park, and to put it up on your own funded medium, but the MTA does not need to let you run an ad with it. Whether an ad causes violence is not the topic, it’s whether the MTA should be forced to allow the ad on its subway line boards. Next up, KKK sponsored ads complaining about a plot by a militant portion of the Jewish people to take over the world. Stormfront and its ilk have their websites; they just don’t get to buy ad space on buses because the transit authority does not want to be associated with their crap.

      1. miga
        miga September 19, 2012 at 8:13 pm |

        Sadly a court ruled that they don’t have a choice. The MTA originally refused to run the ads, but now they have to because “free speech.”

    3. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve September 19, 2012 at 10:36 pm |

      Jadey, the simple thesis is here is that calling Muslims “savages” will cause them to kill ambassadors and other folk. The thesis is NOT that violence against Muslims will result. You have it backwards.

      My point is that calling Muslims “savages” (or any name) doesn’t cause them to kill anybody, any more than calling anti-choicers “douchebags” (or any name) will cause them to kill OB/gyns.

      Donna, Nazis and racist and others who create speech you don’t like aren’t very sympathetic characters either. But America would be a police state if their speech could be chilled by sending state officials to harass them based on some imaginary connection between their speech and violence overseas.

      The simple thesis is that calling Muslims “savages” will cause them to kill ambassadors and other folk?

      What? The thesis that no one is saying? You have it backwards and how dare you tell Jadey that she isn’t concerned that this ad will have negative effects towards the treatment of Muslims in New York City? Y’know like where the frigging ads are located?

      I object to this ad because it is a sickening piece of anti-Arab propaganda. I also find it anti-Semitic, because by leaving out the fact that only of a tiny minority of even Israel supporting Jews view Israel’s political enemies as ‘savages’, implies that all Jews are fucking idiots.

  4. ahimsa
    ahimsa September 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm |

    In the NY Times piece Geller is quoted:

    If someone commits violence, it is his responsibility and no one else’s.

    First of all, she doesn’t seem to see the irony of simultaneously saying “it’s the individual’s responsibility” while creating an ad that blames an entire group of people.

    But there’s another thing that bugs me. She’s using the word “jihad” as a synonym for acts of violence. This indirectly blames all Muslims which is completely wrong. Jihad, from what I’ve read (I hope Muslim readers will jump in to correct me if I’m wrong), is often interpreted in a spiritual or mystical way. It does not necessarily mean a physical battle, let alone unprovoked violence.

    I wonder — if the USA had better “truth in advertising laws” could someone challenge the wording of the ad and require that the word jihad be changed to something more specific, like violence or terrorism? The word as it is used seems to be just plain wrong.

    She’s drawing a false equivalency and saying that all jihad is terrorism, and vice versa. Not all terrorists are Muslim. Not even all suicide bombers are Muslim. People forget that Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, was killed by a suicide bomber back in 1991. The Sri Lankan president, Ranasinghe Premadasam, was killed by another suicide bomber two years later. Both attacks, which were done by a faction of the Tamil Tigers, and which have nothing to do with Islam, are usually left out when suicide bombing is discussed.

    Yes, it’s perfectly legal for someone to be racist and believe that all Muslims are evil. I guess it’s even legal to buy advertising to tell the world about your racist beliefs. But I would like the correct language to be used so that her racism would be more obvious.

    1. Beanie
      Beanie October 16, 2012 at 12:00 am |

      “Jihad, from what I’ve read (I hope Muslim readers will jump in to correct me if I’m wrong), is often interpreted in a spiritual or mystical way. ”

      Pretty much yes. Jihad translates into “struggle” in Islam it refers to internal struggles such as with ones desires etc, but its no surprise that many “Islamic” extremists and the western media have appropriated its meaning to mean “holy war”.

  5. matlun
    matlun September 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

    But there’s another thing that bugs me. She’s using the word “jihad” as a synonym for acts of violence.

    It pretty much seems to me that the actual meaning in everyday English has become just “holy war”.

    There is a similar problem with the term burqa/burka. When used in discussions in the west (eg “burqa ban”) it is referring to the face covering while originally is is actually the body covering/dress. (My Muslim sister-in-law has expressed some annoyance about the use of this word…)

    In short, the English and Arabic meanings do not fully match. I suspect that will be true of other terms also.

    1. matlun
      matlun September 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm |

      Ok, I just googled a bit, and my sister in law may not be that dependable a source.

      She claimed that the term burqa should also include for example the Iranian chador (dress, no face covering), but many source on the internet seem to disagree with this.

      OT semantics discussion as usual from me. Sorry.

  6. Nentuaby
    Nentuaby September 19, 2012 at 6:15 pm |

    Out here in California, the SFMTA had to take on the same ads. They did indeed run their own “We condemn this message” ads opposite them, with big arrows and a direct quotation to make sure everyone realized exactly what they were talking about.

    http://www.munidiaries.com/2012/08/20/sfmta-counters-savage-ads/

  7. victoria
    victoria September 19, 2012 at 8:09 pm |

    Some of the bus ads in the SF Bay Area also got, um, “redecorated,” so here’s hoping NYC folks will also find some creative ways to show how they feel about the ads.

  8. miga
    miga September 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm |

    I just found this interactive graph showing how religious intolerance (hostilities and restrictions) is on the rise worldwide. This includes places like the U.S. and France. It’s sad/scary to see how in the past 4 years the U.S. has shifted from low-moderate intolerance to high-moderate intolerance.

    1. Rhoanna
      Rhoanna September 21, 2012 at 10:59 am |

      The US is still low-moderate for government restrictions (although up from low). Also interesting is how only 5 of the 25 most populous countries have less governmental restrictions, and a the same number have less social restrictions.

  9. Samir H
    Samir H September 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm |

    Pam Geller promoting inflammatory anti-Arab anti-Islamic propaganda because FREEDOM!

    This is who she is, this is what she does, this is what she believes – no surprises there. I’m too tired to be disgusted at this sort of attitude by now.

    What’s worrying is that she’s creating a template for other like-minded bigots and racists to copy. And of course, it’s all above board because freedom of speech, etc, etc, etc, and bigots in America inevitably have more visibility – in terms for infamy, money, just being able to yell louder for longer – than minorities.

    So you know what? Fuck it, let the ads run. Might as well use them as litmus tests: if you have the slightest sympathy for the shit this woman is preaching, you are a fucking idiot and i weep for the people whose lives you contaminate with your presence.

    As far as raising Islamophobia – to my experience, Islamophobia is part and parcel of the American Experience (if you are some flavour of Brown or Arab). It’s a thing, y’know? Because if it weren’t a thing, people like Pam Geller wouldn’t get air to spread their shit.

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