Mona Eltahaway, the Egyptian-American journalist who was arrested after defacing what she said was an Islamophobic advertisement, described her actions as “civil disobedience” on Sunday’s Up with Chris Hayes.
“I don’t think we should be quiet, or silent, or bullied into silence in the face of racism and hate,” she said, explaining her decision to spray pink paint onto a controversial New York City subway advertisement last week. Eltahaway added that she had expected her arrest.
The text of the offending subway ad reads, ”In the war between civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” Eltahaway argued that this message “conflates being Arab and Muslim with being against Israel and being with Jihad.” The ad belongs to right-wing blogger and activist Pamela Geller, who has a long history withaccusations of racism and Islamophobia.
While Up host Chris Hayes agreed with Eltahaway about the content of the ad, he questioned her decision to deface it. “There’s a great Internet phrase called ‘Don’t feed the trolls,’” he said. “And this is great wisdom that I try to take in my life, which is when someone tries to basically get a rise out of you with idiocy, just don’t rise to the bait. And this seemed to me like this was an exercise in feeding the trolls. So why did you decide to do this?”
“This ad is more than idiocy,” Eltahaway replied, pointing out that the ad would be viewed by millions of people, and had to be considered in the context of the 9/11 attacks.
This is not the first time Geller’s “savage” ad has appeared in the news. In July, her organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, had to sue the Metropolitan Transit Authority in order to get the ad placed. The M.T.A. has since approved new guidelines for advertising, saying that “viewpoint” ads on the subway will need to include disclaimers saying the M.T.A. does not endorse their content.