The Common Good

Don’t deface anti-Muslim Metro ads

Date: October 8, 2012

Striking back at this latest provocation, three religious groups have offered useful examples of how best to combat intolerant hate speech. In Manhattan stops, they launched a counter-campaign for tolerance.

Rabbis for Human Rights, an organization of Jewish rabbis that promote interfaith cooperation, unveiled a poster campaign in the same Manhattan metro stations as the anti-Muslim ads. They read: “In the choice between love and hate, choose love. Help stop bigotry against our Muslim neighbors.” The Christian group Sojourners also ran a counter-ad, which read: “Love your Muslim neighbors.” And another Christian group, United Methodist Women, an affiliate of the United Methodist Church, struck back by purchasing poster space in the same metro stations, offering this message: “Hate speech is not civilized. Support peace in word and deed.”

These are effective replies that underscore the ways in which our freedoms of religion and speech should be understood. Rather than entrenching themselves on each side of a perceived faith divide and using their Constitutional rights and religious narratives as weapons against believers of other faith traditions, these organizations synchronized the values of their faith and nationality in a powerful way. For them, hate speech is not only antithetical to their religious beliefs. It is also anti-American.