Pols Outraged at ‘Offensive’ Nazi Symbols on NYC Transit
Passengers riding the New York City subway were surprised to see some cars and its seats fully wrapped with flags of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
The offensive signage was first noted by PIX11 News producer Katherine Lam on a 42nd Street shuttle train in Manhattan. Apparently, the MTA(Metropolitan Transportation Authority)-sanctioned advertisement is part of a campaign by Amazon to promote its new streaming series, “The Man in the High Castle,” which reimagines Nazi Germany emerging victorious from World War II.
42nd St shuttle to #TimesSquare covered in Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan symbols for @amazon ad. Is this ok? pic.twitter.com/ysJ3m0UIPT
— Katherine Lam (@byKatherineLam) November 23, 2015
“Half the seats in my car had Nazi insignias inside an American flag, while the other half had the Japanese flag in a style like the World War II design, executive director of Jewish cultural organization The Workmen’s Circle, Ann Toback, told Gothamist. “I shouldn’t have to sit staring at a Nazi insignia on my way to work.”
“We do not believe this ad violates our content-neutral ad standards,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg told PIX11 News.
In a statement on Monday, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) regional director Evan Bernstein described the campaign as exploitative.
“On the television program, which explains this is the notion of an America controlled by Hitler, you get that context. On the train, seeing the American flag paired with a Nazi symbol is viscerally offensive, because there is no context as to what it means,” said Bernstein. “The fact that the flag is spread across the seats only compounds the effect. This ad campaign has a feel of exploiting things that are so sensitive to so many people.”
“We’re not saying that people don’t have a right to express themselves. We’re just saying that it has a level of insensitivity. We would hope that the people who distributed it will think twice about putting these symbols on more public transportation,” he added.
New York State Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz called the ad offensive to Jewish residents and an embarrassment for all New Yorkers.
“While we are all used to bad decisions by the MTA, this goes beyond anything we have come to expect from them. The MTA could have allowed this show to be advertised without using such offensive insignias. As a Jew, I am offended, and as a New Yorker I am embarrassed,” Dinowitz said in an emailed statement to Jewish Insider. “The MTA should be ashamed of themselves and this ignorant advertising campaign, as it is offensive not just to the Jewish community, but to all Americans. I demand that these ads be pulled immediately and that the MTA issue a public apology.”
Councilman Mark Levine, Chair of the NYC Council’s Jewish Caucus, told Jewish Insider: “There are 60,000 Holocaust survivors in this city. They should not be subjected to Nazi symbols on their mass transit system.”
UPDATED: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio told Jewish Insider, “While these ads technically may be within MTA guidelines, they’re irresponsible and offensive to World War II and Holocaust survivors, their families, and countless other New Yorkers. Amazon should take them down.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office did not return a request for comment.