Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Signs of the scary times we're in

Sign No. 1

Sign No. 2

Sign No. 3

THREE SIGNS tell three different stories, but together they make a sad statement about the state our country is in.

The first sign is located in Dearborn, Michigan, a city with the highest concentration of Muslim/Americans according to the U.S. Census. The message is in Arabic script, white letters with a black background.


Well, put those fears away, my friends. Translated into English, the billboard says, "Donald Trump Can't Read This but It Scares Him, Anyway."

It was put up by the Nuisance Committee, a political action committee founded by Max Temkin, founder of the game "Cards Against Humanity. The sign directs people to a website that tracks Trump's major statements about Muslims and Muslim-Americans from the beginning of his campaign through present.

“It’s tongue-in-cheek with a serious message behind the comedy,” said Kitty Kurth, spokeswoman for the Nuisance Committee,

The billboard was placed near Dearborn because of its large Arab/American population, according to the committee. The Republican presidential nominee has come under fire for his comments regarding Muslims. Another reason is that Michigan is a key swing state.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Detroit News he sees the humor in the Dearborn billboard.

“I chuckled,” said Walid, recalling the first time he saw it. “I laughed. Duh. This is how people feel in the community. It’s mocking Trump. It’s funny yet very appropriate considering the nonsense Donald Trump has continued to say about Muslims.”

The committee hopes the billboard — along with two others in Illinois and Florida — helps persuade swing-state voters who are turned off by Trump's "racism and xenophobia" to mobilize against him.

"Throughout our history as a nation, we have been built into a strong nation by the contribution of immigrants, but at the same time, many of our people have had fear of the other and fear of the unknown," Kurth said.

The scariest sign

To me, the scariest of the three signs is the one saying "Make America White Again." Unfortunately, that is a real sign. That's the campaign slogan of Rick Tyler running for the U.S. Congress in Tennessee's 3rd District.

The only saving grace for Mr. Tyler is that at least he makes no bones about where he stands with people of color and immigrants. He's an out-and-out white supremacist and xenophobe but I don't think he'd take that description as an insult.

He is running against Democrat Melody Shekari and incumbent Republican Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.

Shekari, the daughter of immigrants, received the endorsement of the Chatanooga Times-Free Press but she is running against the six-term incumbent Fleischmann, who is backed by the influential (in the Bible Belt) Tea Party and poll-watchers see the 3rd District as predominantly Republican. It will be interesting to see if Tyler could take away enough of Fleishmann's base to give Shekari a chance for an upset.

The template for the Church Sign Maker. Note that the
background is exactly the same.
The third sign is fake

In this case, the "Advancement of Islamic Agenda for America" sign is clearly an altered version of the Church Sign Maker's "Classic Design #9" offering (as indicated by the identical nature of the two signs' sizes, shapes, and background objects in their photos): 

This photograph of an outdoor sign has been identified in social media postings as belonging to a mosque (or some other Islam-associated administrative building) with the cumbersome title of "Advancement of Islamic Agenda for America." The sign advertises to viewers that organization's ominous threat "AMERICA WE WILL KILL YOU ALL AND NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP IT," bracketed by invocations of the exaltation "ALLAH BE PRAISED." 

Neither the sign nor the organization is real, however. The photo is a fake created by using the Church Sign Maker, a web site that allowed users to create realistic-looking images of church signs bearing messages of their choosing. Despite its proven fakery, the sign continues to make the rounds of social media inflaming the fears of whites who see their power, influence and privileges threatened.

Why someone created that message and posted it again and again on social media is anybody's guess, but it was probably intended to get people riled up against Muslim/Americans. In that quest, unfortunately, they're probably succeeding.

It is something Donald Trump would believe as indisputable fact.