Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American journalist and blogger, was arrested in a New York City subway station on Tuesday for spray painting over one of the pro-Israel subways ads that equate Islamic Muslim radicals with “savages.”
The incident was captured on video by a New York Post camera crew, apparently tipped off after Eltahawy tweeted about her intentions. The arrest came after Elthaway scuffled with a woman identified by the Post as Pamela Hall — apparently a supporter of the ad who stood in the line of spray-paint fire and tried to stop Eltahawy from defacing it.
For the record, we agree with Eltahawy’s position: The ads are incendiary and base, and Pamela Geller, whose organization paid for them, is in the business of promoting hate speech.
But the ads were approved by the MTA (following a court battle), and the second Eltahawy pulled out her paint can, she basically sunk to Geller’s level. Regardless of where you stand on the limits of the First Amendment, the Israel/Palestinian issue, or the depiction of Muslims in America, watching the video makes it clear that Eltahawy’s protest is not about any of those things. It’s about Eltahawy — who was right, until she was wrong.
Here’s a list of the three most misguided statements Eltahawy makes in the video.
1. “This is freedom of expression!”
No. It’s called vandalism. Your right to express yourself does not include spray painting in the subways. We tried that in the 1970s. It wasn’t pretty.
2. “I’m an Egyptian-American and I refuse hate!”
Actually, you’re not refusing hate. You’re fighting hate with more hate. It’s okay. Everyone does that sometimes. But at least admit it.
3. “This is non-violent protest!”
No. It was a violent one. Hall obstructed your path, and you sprayed her with paint. That’s pretty violent. Paint can actually blind someone.
The most telling part of the protest came when Eltahawy, being hauled off in handcuffs, yells into the camera, telling everyone on Twitter to tweet about the fracas that has just transpired. She spells her name out carefully, as to be sure there is no confusion that Mona Eltahawy is the martyr who spoke out against hate today.
Because that’s the important part.