Egyptian-American columnist Mona Eltahawy was arrested Wednesday for vandalizing a poster with pink spray paint. The banner she defaced was one of many that recently came to national prominence from a campaign that showcased support for Israeli over radical Islam.
"In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man," says the sign. "Support Israel/Defeat Jihad."
While obviously inflammatory, the sign had been deemed protected under the First Amendment by a federal judge in July and ordered to run in the New York subway system.
Despite what many people may think, these signs have just as much right to be there as any other. Eltahawy may have disagreed with the message, but that did not give her the right to vandalize the sign. She was, of course, prepped with all of the usual catch phrases:
“That’s right, defend racism,” and “I’m not violating it, I’m making an expression on free speech.”
And despite her rage, she found time to promote the event on her Twitter account, with the hashtag #ProudSavage.
People should be realistic when looking at this story. Mona Elathawy was ready for arrest. She screamed out when the cops were arresting her that she was being arrested for practicing a form of non-violent protest. She was arrested for vandalizing a poster on a wall in the New York City subway.
The cops told her that her claims of non-violent protest were effectively null and void because she could have hurt someone if the spray paint had gone into their eye. A proponent of the sign and its purpose, Pamela Hall, tried to place herself in between Eltahawy and the sign. Eltahawy stated that Hall was at fault, because she placed herself there.
Eltahawy will get what she wanted, which is attention. She is the type of activist journalist that will gladly "martyr" themselves with an arrest on a charge like vandalism or negligent assault to make their point.
If she was truly a proponent of non-violent protest, she would have found other ways to make the point that wouldn’t have resulted in her arrest. In the end, she may have done more harm than good to her cause, especially since she seems to have inspired more spray painting protests. It could only be a matter of time before the situation gets out of hand.