9/11 families sound off on MTA’s political ad decision

Originally published at Peaceful Tomorrows by Terry Greene and Gloria Williams on 4/30/15

From September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

As family members of those who died in the attacks launched on Sept. 11, 2001, we reflect on the recent MTA ruling to ban political advertisements on all MTA vehicles as an unfortunate sacrifice when a middle ground could have been forged.

Our families still mourn deeply the loss of our loved ones who perished on 9/11.

Our pain is compounded when some choose to respond in kind to that terrorist attack, and other attacks that have followed, by promoting hatred and fear of others who may be different from themselves. While we support the right to practice free speech, we abhor messages composed to incite bigotry and hatred.

Such messages seek to overturn the central tenets of America — a land founded to honor freedom of religion that is reliant upon principles rich with the ideas of life and liberty, tolerance and brotherhood.

Photo of MTA political ad
Shown on the bus in the background is an ad from the pro-Israel American Freedom Defense Initiative on a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority bus featuring a 1941 photograph of Hitler and supporter Hajj Amin al-Husseini in Philadelphia. New York is following in the footsteps of cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, which have already banned political ads on public transit, the agency said. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The five-fold increase in hate crimes perpetrated against Muslims, or those who may appear to be Muslim, drives another wedge of pain through our hearts. Let us not forget that many of those who died or were injured on 9/11, among them heroic first responders who perished saving others, were also believers in the faith of Islam.

We do not wish to see more families of any religion, race or nationality have to suffer a loss such as we endured. Our victory as a people lies in not allowing terror to achieve its desired end of instigating fear and hatred. The enemy is the use of violence, whether in speech or physical attacks.

The ads now being posted in New York and other major cities’ metro systems, that foment hatred against Islam, a religion practiced by 20 percent of the world, are misguided and dangerous.

When we forge bridges, live together in interfaith understanding, and nonviolently prevent and resolve conflict — that is when we are successful in this battle and create the peaceful world that we envision as the only viable path to a sustainable future for ourselves and our children.

Our response need not be to close further discourse, but instead to provide opportunities to come together as a community. We, in the name of those who can no longer speak, ask the MTA, politicians and all residents to consider our wishes along with the wishes of our Interfaith Coalition Partners and work to find a middle ground solution that will be beneficial for all without discontinuing the rights for all organizations to post communications on our subways and buses.

* * *

-September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Terry Greene, brother of Donald Freeman Greene, United Flight 93 victim

Gloria Williams, sister-in-law of firefighter and 9/11 victim Vernon Cherry

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