Truth and Understanding in Advertising

A religious group wants to promote peace and understanding. They want to wipe out prejudice and fear. They are doing it by spending their own money. And they are getting grief.

Is the message bad, false, intended to hurt or harm? No.  Are the communications offensive or irresponsible? No.  Then what is the problem?

This is one of the ads in the campaign in from the Islamic Circle of America.

This is one of the ads in the campaign in from the Islamic Circle of America. (image from NPR.org)

The only problem with the ad campaign in the NYC subway system (from CNN and from NPR) is that the ad is promoting Islam, a religion based on peace, love, and all of the other good stuff that most religions are based upon. The problem is that many famous acts of terror in the last 30 years have been from groups claiming Islamic ties. It is estimated that there are about 1.3 billion Muslims in the world today (according to Reuters) . That’s a lot! It’s the world’s largest religion. If all Muslims were terrorist, the world would have been a different place a long time ago.

In the NPR story, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) rose to the ads’ defense and said it was an unfounded case of guilt by association.

Let’s compare the ads from the Islamic Circle of North America (see photo) to the ads from Barak Obama and from John McCain. Which ad campaigns should be censored?

• An ad from Barak Obama says that McCain predicts the Iraq war will be a “100-year war.” McCain never said that.

• An ad from John McCain ad says that Obama supported “legislation to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergarteners.” The truth is that Obama supported a law to teach kids about predators and inappropriate touching. Another ad from McCain says that Sarah Palin put the Alaska Governor’s jet on eBay. It didn’t sell on eBay; a broker eventually sold it for a loss to Alaska. McCain intentionally doesn’t tell you the last part of the story.

Who should be censored?  Which advertising should be in question?

Let’s have more ads like those from the Islamic Circle!  Let’s encourage all religions to spread the word of peace, love, knowledge, and understanding. And for those who knowingly produce ads with lies and half-truths, let’s say they cannot hold public office.

••• thanks to my colleague Richard Rumble for telling me about the ICNA ad campaign •••

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