The Muslims are coming, and we live amongst you, and want to be able to express ourselves without having our First Amendment rights infringed upon…just an FYI.
In New York City, over five million people take the subway every single day, and advertisements plastered on the walls, and in the subway are an integral part of the subway experience.
Canada was recently in the news for their progressiveness, due to their willingness to tackle xenophobia with witty, funny slogans that actively challenge the “Go back to where you came from,” narrative that is emerging as Syrian refugees try to find a safe haven.
Just below Canada, not to far away, in one of the most diverse cities in the world–New York City–the complete opposite is happening, with the MTA deciding to ban “political” ads, and in turn, sparking up a debate about free speech.
While trying to advertise their upcoming film, comics Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah created ads to promote their new their documentary The Muslims Are Coming. On these ads are “facts” about Muslims.
One of the facts is that “Grown up Muslims can do more pushups than baby Muslims.”
Another fact proudly boasts, “Muslims invented Justin Timberlake.” (Personally, I’m not willing to claim Justin Timberlake, but I do appreciate this humor.)
After five months of working with the MTA, and having these ads approved, the MTA board did a quick about face, and decided to ban political ads.
But let’s be honest: What is it about those “facts” that’s political? Is it merely the idea–the very audacity–that Farsad and Obdeillah decided that run a campaign that asserted the normalcy of Muslims at a time when Muslims are being criminalized? Is it because Muslims aren’t viewed as American?
Instead, we’re seen as something “exotic” and foreign, far away…even though it was Black Muslim labor that built this country.
Trump is trying to ban us from coming into the country, even though a lot of us were born here and some of our ancestors helped build this country.
Muslims have been in the United States since the inception of its existence. We live amongst you, and want to be able to express ourselves without having our First Amendment rights infringed upon.
And yes, we come in peace.