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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Racist Pro-Israel Ad to Run on TrIMet

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 3:29 PM

This is coming to TriMet:

portlandbussideflat_Lowres__2_.jpg

The ad is being run by a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative (please take a moment to laugh at their logo), a far-right group affiliated with Stop Islamization of America, who have also bought bus ads in New York telling Islamic Americans to reject their religion.

The current "savage" ads are running all over the country, supposedly in response to the factual pro-Palestinian ad proclaiming UN's count of Palestinian refugees. It's worth point out that many Jewish groups aren't happy the Freedom Defense Initiative new race-baiting ads.

TriMet has long-feared a situation just like this. Until 2009, the transit agency banned political ads from its buses and trains. But they were sued by Oregon's Kaluk Tribe and the ACLU, who argued that TriMet's refusal to run an ad about a salmon-and-dam debate violated free speech rights. When Washington DC's transit agency refused to run the "savage" ads last month, the American Freedom Defense Initiative filed suit against them, on similar grounds to the free speech argument that won the Karuk's salmon a spot on TriMet.

In the Oregon case, the court determined that TriMet can't pick and choose what sort of ads to run—it has to take everything or nothing. If it takes nothing, TriMet would lose out on its $4.8 million annual ad contract.

However, I wonder whether these ads could lead to any of Portland's Palestinian-immigrant population to file a civil rights violation complaint against TriMet on the grounds that riding a bus adorned with a banner calling them a "savage" would subject them to discrimination. Just a thought.

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