"Savages": discovering common narratives while protesting anti-Muslim signs

When we found out that the “savage” ads were being posted in 10 subway stations around Manhattan on Monday, CAIR-New York volunteers and staff took to the rails to counter the messaging with flyers of our own.

We found the first ad in the Times Square station, outside the 1/2/3 trains. As soon as we got on scene we recognized the media professionals waiting around with cameras and notepads in hand. Many had been busy all morning looking for one of the ads, and now they sought any and every reaction they could get from commuters.

We immidiately started handing out fliers to all commuters who made eye contact with the ad and the media started gathering. We did interviews for local, national and international media, and had conversations with people walking through the station.

Everyone was supportive of our cause. One woman from England called the ads, “disgusting, racist, offensive,” before telling the NY Post reporter that the woman who paid for the ads should be dropped “on a desert island. But it should definitely be deserted, so you don’t inflict her on anyone else.”

Another woman called the ads “appalling” and “counter-productive” and insisted that the ads do not reflect her Jewish faith. She added an important perspective to the media coverage, and wished us well in our work.

Even media professionals spoke off the record about their disgust at these ads! But one conversation in particular got CAIR-NY thinking:

During the first of the interviews, which was being taped for radio, we mentioned at one point that the language of the “civilized man” versus “the savage” is the narrative used to justify the colonization of people of color throughout our world's history. During that interview we noticed a gentleman standing next to the ad, looking at us and nodding his head with a smile. After the interview, he introduced himself, pointed at the words on the poster, and said “It would be the same to me if this said ‘In the war between the civilized man and the n*****…’”

-  The CAIR-NY Team is ready and willing to come to a hate ad near you to cover it with people, and spread a message of unity through our city. If you find an ad space that needs leafletting volunteers, please contact our office. At this point we have found ads at the following locations: 34th- 1 line; 72nd- B/C lines; 42nd- A/C/E lines; Rector- 1 line; 57th/5th- F line; 28th- 6 line; 23rd- C/E line; 49th- N/R line; 42nd- 4/5/6/7 lines; 42nd- 1 line.