“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.”
By now, most of us have seen this ad, paid for by a group that calls itself the American Freedom Defense Initiative founded by Pamela Geller. The group succeeded in federal court in its First Amendment suit against the New York City Transit Authority to have the advert posted in and around public mass transport, and is fighting determinedly against the D.C Transit Authority to have the same posters placed in and around Washington D.C. Geller says that she considers “any delay to be government censorship of my core political speech.” Quite so. But it is not the group’s First Amendment rights I wish to debate. As an author who uses words to make my living, it’s the exploitation of language to which I object.
First, no truly “civilized man” would publicly call any other group “savage” by virtue of the very definition of the word “civilized” which, when used as an adjective means, “showing evidence of intellectual advancement; humane, ethical, and reasonable, marked by refinement in taste and manners; cultured; polished.”
It’s not intellectual, refined, mannerly, humane or polished to call another human being a savage. Nor is it ethical or reasonable to do so in such a public forum where the statement will cause discomfort and insult to so many, be they jihadists or otherwise. If I were still riding the subways in New York City, I would not want to be near such a sign, and I’m not a Muslim, nor do I support any violence by extremists, be they Muslim or otherwise. Yet that sign would make me uncomfortable because it’s designed to provoke, and the last thing anyone needs while waiting endlessly for a train to arrive in a crowded, smelly, dank subway station is more provocation. The stress levels are high enough without the addition of aggravating signs. New York City and D.C subway riders, whether they’re Muslim, Jewish or what-have-you, should all go to court together and, citing the violation of their civil right to have a peaceful ride home, demand that the signs be taken down. The signs do not promote civilized discourse, nor do they exhibit any civilized concern for their fellow men who might be subjected to the hysterics generated by them, therefore they were not created by “civilized men.” That’s my first grievance on behalf of proper language usage ─ the definitions are incorrect.
My second grievance is that Geller calls these ads “Pro-Israel” ads, but when you are “pro” something, that means you “affirm” it or are “positive” about it, and there’s nothing positive or affirmative in this ad about Israel. Here are two examples of Pro-Israel statements:
ex.1: The beaches in Israel are beautiful.
ex. 2: The Israeli people are warm and friendly.
There are no sentences such as those in the advert to indicate that it is pro-Israel. So let’s call it what it is ─ “anti-jihad” not “pro-Israel”─ because to say otherwise is to assume every reader of the ad has no higher reasoning skills, and so now all of us are being insulted, not just the jihadists.
Finally, I take umbrage with the name of this group: “American Freedom Defense Initiative”. I doubt the name was intentionally ironic, but it is. This group has not taken the initiative to “defend American freedom,” it’s abusing an American freedom ─ the freedom of speech as indicated by our First Amendment. This group has stage-managed the right to free speech in the same way that the Westboro Baptist Church has stage-managed that same freedom. That “church” (another misappropriated word) had to go to court to defend their right to be obnoxious and combative, too.
The word “American” is also being misused, because “American” is not a synonym for “radical Zionism.” By virtue of their adverts, for which they paid thousands and for which they are still soliciting donations on their website; this group is as radical a group as the jihadists they refute. Otherwise, the D.C. Transit Authority would not be fighting against putting up the ads because of their very real concern that their commuters will “have their lives endangered” or at the very least disrupted by these signs, signs that are being labeled by the main stream media as “controversial.” still another word that’s been hijacked from its original meaning. The definition of “controversial” is, “giving rise or likely to give rise to public disagreement,” when in actuality these signs are nightmarish, a word which is defined as, “bloodcurdling and extremely alarming.”
And before I’m accused of being an anti-Israel liberal, the ad has a number of Conservatives upset, too.
Here is what Christian author Lee Goff had to say: “I am a conservative, pro-Israel individual. I am also a man seeking the truth over dialogue. Geller’s defense using ‘Free Speech’ is a prostitution of the forefathers that fought for such a blessed freedom. Her sign borders on literary war-mongering.” ~ Lee Goff, author, A Name Like Thunder (The Thunder Series)
But if you still believe that this a “Pro-Israel group” defending itself against “savages” and a perfectly acceptable sign, then let’s try using the same slogan in a few different ways, shall we? Below is an image the actual poster as it appears in New York City:
Now, let’s change it just a bit:
Or, how about this one?
Maybe this one?
Truthfully, no matter where we stand on any of these issues, is this the “civilized” way for our First Amendment rights to be used? The ad in NYC is not taking any sort of an American freedom initiative, defensive or otherwise. It’s not “pro” anything, except to pharmaceutical companies who would find them very affirming, to be sure. If we’re wondering why so many of our young people need to take medication for depression and ADHD, perhaps we should start closely examining what our society is being polluted with every day by social and mainstream media.
Take for example the indoctrination-speak posted on two separate YouTube accounts ─one “pro-Israel”, one “Pro-Islam”, both American ─ beneath the New York Post video that was taken when Egyptian-American Mona Eltahawy walked into the subway with the goal in mind to spray paint over the contentious language in the ads.
(Yes, The New York Post was on hand with a video camera right near the signs, even before the incident occurred, and that was more than just remarkably convenient.) As Eltahawy began spray-painting over the sign, Pamela Hall, one of Geller’s ardent followers who on her blog has been documenting the court battle over the ad placement since its inception, stepped forward and blocked it with her body. Pamela was holding a camera, too. The film of the altercation between the two women is appalling when one first sees it (and you can see it here) because we’re hit with the hideousness of the ad, the shock of a grown woman spray painting a poster in a subway station while another grown woman tries to block her with her body, and the subsequent arrest of the spray-painter.
But it becomes more disgusting than shocking when we learn that the entire incident was planned, hence the cameras and the presence of the newspaper. Mona had tweeted about her intentions, and since she is a known “activist” or “extremist” (depending on which side is doing the reporting) Pamela Hall knew she’d be there. So, what we’re seeing is an almost staged altercation and video recording of such, designed to manipulate our emotions “for” or “against” Hall or Eltahawy.
Below is how the incident was reported by one “pro-Israel” YouTube user:
“Islamic supremacist journalist Mona Eltahawy was arrested today after assaulting a defender of freedom who caught her in the act of vandalizing one of AFDI’s pro-Israel ads in the New York Subway Stations. Eltahawy’s thuggish behavior is a telling indication of how relentlessly opposed the left and Islamic supremacists are to the freedom of speech.”
But it was also posted by a “pro-Islam” YouTube user with the following description:
Egyptian-American activist and journalist Mona Eltahawy entered the Times Square subway station last night intending to spray paint over some of the controversial advertisements condemning Muslims as “savages.” But she ran into stubborn resistance from a woman named Pamela Hall, who also blogged about the Muslim Day Parade this month, sneering at the parade’s theme of peace by writing, ‘If you buy that, then I’ve got some swamp land for sale…..’ The ads are paid for by virulent Islamaphobe Pamela Geller, who dismisses Eltahawy as an ‘Islamic supremacist’.”
Consequently, depending on which obsessive perspective one reads, each of these women ─ Geller, Eltahawy, and Hall ─ is either a hero or a villain, when in actually, to those of us who are less susceptible to emotional blackmail, they are all three opportunistic instigators, disturbing the commute of the average working person who are often daily subjected to the worst of humanity simply because they have to take the subway to get to work. And videos of staged incidents like these, along with the vitriolic commentary are what all of us, especially our young people see via social media sites each day. This video was up on Facebook within hours of its being filmed, the impact of it all the more forceful for its immediacy.
What can we expect from all the verbal fraud coming from both sides of this political bacchanalia in which the citizens of New York City in particular and of the United States in general find themselves ensnared? It’s that we should brace ourselves for still more. More assaults with adverts, blogs, YouTube videos, more partisan reporting by main stream media, more hate-filled diatribes of “whose-side-are-you on-it-had-better-be-the-one-I’m-on” on Facebook, more dire warnings of world annihilation from whichever current Israeli Prime Minister, and more xenophobic posturing spouted by the latest Middle East dictator.
Frankly, from what I can see, Geller, Hall, and Eltahawy seem to be reveling way too much in their hatred for each other. Just as radical Muslims seem to be reveling in having literally become the center of the world’s attention with their protests and vandalism. Just as Israelis and Palestinians seem to be reveling in their inexhaustible craving to take or destroy each other’s property, and their vile willingness to indoctrinate and sacrifice their own children into murdering each other, and ours, too, if we let ourselves get talked or frightened into it. All in the name of what has been labeled “religion,” a word that has become so contemptuous by its misuse that now anyone who utters it is treated as though they shouted out a four-letter-word. And these three women are using this situation as a media opportunity by pouring fuel on this fire. Instead, think of what they could actually accomplish to better this modern heartbreak if they were to band together rather than demean womanhood as a whole with their catty fights and spite.
But all that is actually beside the point. What I think is important for all of us Americans to remember is that the group that posted this ad is an American group, just as the protester who sprayed painted the ad is an American. So why are we allowing the beliefs and battles of Americans on the lunatic fringe to dictate our response to a tragic clash that will go on for generations all without any interference on our part?
So, these are my words ─ untainted by Newspeak: I’m calling out to those in the United States ─ Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Independent ─ whoever you are, who are not part of any fundamentalist extreme. Let’s speak up and say we’ve had our fill of it. I know there are more of us out there than who dare to admit what they truly think about a ceaseless conflict that pulls itself so much closer to us each day that it’s now even in our train stations. If we stop watching, stop listening, stop allowing ourselves to be pulled in to all of this dysfunction, maybe, just maybe, it will finally subside.
Last 5 posts by Patricia V. Davis
- On the “Muslim Riots” and More - November 4th, 2012
- Podcast Interview: Movie Critic Gilbert Mansergh’s Marvelous Tribute to His Marvelous Mom - November 3rd, 2012
- Profiling by the California Highway Patrol in Oakland, California: More Inclusive Than You Might Think - November 3rd, 2012
- "And Suddenly I Realized My Liabilities Were My Assets" Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Chair of the California Arts Council, at The Women’s PowerStrategy Conference 2012 - April 30th, 2012
- A Message from Editor-in-Chief, Patricia V Davis about The Women’s PowerStrategy Conference - March 5th, 2012