by Tony Murphy
New York — The capitalist media waged a frenzied war campaign against
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejahd while the United Nations was in
session the end of September. This propaganda campaign was designed to
create popular support for “regime change” in Iran so that Wall Street
can take over that country’s oil resources.
A little before the U.N. convened, the media broadcast stories that
the Metropolitan Transit Authority would begin running ads with racist,
anti-Muslim slurs to support Israel in 10 subway stations.
The repeated mention of the racist slurs by the media served to
promote racism and war. Of course, the MTA denied it was being used for
propaganda purposes, claiming it had been ordered by a federal judge to
run the ads. If the MTA’s story is true, it would be the first time the
transit agency has refused to be used in the bogus war on terror.
In recent years, the MTA has in fact allowed public transit to become
strongly militarized. SWAT teams armed with submachine guns and
accompanied by attack dogs regularly patrol the subway.
Since 2001, the
New York Police Department has conducted racist-profiling spot checks of
people’s bags and backpacks. Recently the Transportation Security
Administration — the airline industry’s notoriously intrusive security
agency — has taken over this task in many stations.
Sold as anti-terror tactics, the actual result of this activity is an extension of the NYPD’s racist stop-and-frisk program.
The ugly, anti-Muslim ads were paid for by arch-racist Pamela Geller,
who in 2010 tried to stop a mosque from being built in downtown
Manhattan. Geller plays a key role for U.S. imperialism by demonizing
the people who happen to live over large quantities of oil and whose
dominant religion is Islam.
Anti-racists spring into motion
As soon as the racist ads went up, the thriving progressive movement
in New York City went into action. Activists placed stickers over the
subway ads with slogans reading “Racist” and “Hate speech.” On Sept. 25,
writer Mona Eltahawy and three other people were arrested and charged
with “criminal mischief” for righteously spray-painting over the ads.
Two days later, the International Action Center protested outside MTA
headquarters with placards reading: “The subway belongs to the 99%:
Take the racist ads down!” Joined by members of Transit Workers Union
Local 100, protesters then went inside for the MTA monthly board
During the public comments section of the meeting, one by one
speakers denounced the hate-mongering ads in what local media later
described as a “vocal outburst.” MTA train operator Seth Rosenberg, one
of the transit workers who spoke, denounced the ads as “racist,
anti-Muslim and vile to the core.”
As for the MTA argument that it was forced to run the ads by a court
order, speakers noted that the agency’s board, representing powerful
banking and real estate interests in New York City, could have hired
lawyers and tied up the issue in court for years.
Of course, Geller didn’t waste the opportunity to promote her bigoted
line and showed up to speak last. But the anti-racist crowd used the
“mic check” strategy of Occupy Wall Street to drown her out. The MTA’s
many security guards rushed to quiet the crowd, briefly arresting
protester Caleb Maupin before releasing him a half hour later, and
pushed the others out.
IAC Co-Director Sara Flounders said the anti-war group had raised
money for its own set of 10 subway ads that read: “Resist Another War:
No to Racism & Anti-Muslim Bigotry, Tool of 1% Rule. We — the 99% —
Need Unity & Solidarity!”
“It’s important to confront these bigoted attacks that are used to
justify U.S. wars in the Muslim world and increased repression at home,”
Flounders told Workers World. “Every day, thousands of people use a
subway system that has been systematically downgraded and dismantled by
the MTA with constant service cuts and fare hikes.
“The average person hates the MTA,” added Flounders. “Anyone who is against racism will hate them even more.”