Why is South Carolina’s Anti-Islamic Propaganda Billboard Still Up?
Driving along South Carolina’s Interstate 26 at this time of year, one is introduced to a number of wondrous scenes: trees slightly tinged with orange; a vast blue sky; generous 70-something degree weather. Oh yeah, and hate propaganda that could make a Chairman blush.
A billboard donning the words “Islam Rising” in bold red letters – with the tagline “Be Warned” – is a beacon for fearmongerers promoting a documentary of the same name produced by the ultra-conservative Christian Action Network for those who can only swallow information in two-word doses about the ‘threats’ of Islamic culture.
Well, here’s another two-worder for you: That’s racist.
The “Islam Rising” headline is accompanied by the angry eyes of someone who looks like a cross between Scorpion from Mortal Combat and the chain belonging to Plies the rapper. The caricature peering at you through a ski mask is, supposedly, an Islamic terrorist. Silly racists forgot that everyone knows it doesn’t snow in Muslim Town.
Making my first roadtrip through the State of Smiling Faces and Beautiful Places, my first reaction to it was of course to immediately u-turn and snap photos (my parents love when I post travel pix). My next was to ‘tap the Googles’ and see what outrage has erupted around it. But coverage of the display is overwhelmingly in support of the billboard and its message, with only a couple of local networks acknowledging that some people might possibly kinda sorta have a problem with it.
The billboard has been up since May, which makes it the longest-standing documentary film billboard I’ve seen besides the one for Spy Kids which was up for two years in East Oakland. Some might argue that freedom of speech legally allows the billboard to stay standing for as long as it wants, and the cost of putting one up there ranges from $500 to $2,000 a month, chump-change for an organization like CAN.
But such a flagrant and coercive piece of propaganda in an area where Muslims have barely any platform to speak can lead to hatred and violence. The tone of CAN’s We Will Never Forget 9/11 event held this past September is a further indication that this message of generalization and xenophobia is intentional and meant to spread far beyond just a billboard.
The Christian Action Network’s central campaigns are based on spreading Islamphobia, so petitioning the organization would probably be as effective as tossing a Twinkie at an elephant. So we at Change.org suggest you go straight to the source: please take a moment to sign our petition to Revelation Outdoor Management, the South Carolina branch of the advertising agency which owns said billboard space.
Let’s get this thing down.
GOT A TIP FOR US? Is there a story or campaign in your area that we’d want to know about? E-mail us email@example.com. Please also follow Change.org’s Human Rights page on Facebook andTwitter. Photo credit: Adriel Luis