“Ads Featuring Nazi Imagery Pulled From New York City Subway,” the bland headline from the Associated Press announced. The first line of the story was similarly ho-hum and passive:
An ad campaign that featured Nazi imagery has been pulled from the New York City subway system.
The ad campaign is for Amazon’s new show “The Man In The High Castle,” which is based on Philip K. Dick’s alternate history of an early 1960s United States that lost World War II.
Nazis control much of the East while Japan rules over the Pacific States. The Rocky Mountains are something of an outlaw zone called the Neutral Territory.
The slow-paced but engrossing show features Rufus Sewell as a ruthless SS Obergruppenführer who cracks down on the resistance movement with shocking efficiency and brutality. There is no freedom in the dystopian land that shows how precious freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly truly are.
The advertisements for the show wrap seats on New York subways. They feature an American flag with a German eagle and iron cross in place of the stars. There is also a flag with imperial Japanese imagery. The crimes against humanity by the Nazis during World War II were so gruesome that it’s a pretty shocking thing to see upon entering a subway car and Democratic mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio fielded complaints. He called the advertising campaign “irresponsible” and “offensive” and called for their removal.
The ad campaign had been approved by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, of course, but Amazon had agreed to pull the advertisements after pressure from government officials.
But you have to get to the very end of the Associated Press account to learn who actually “pulled” the ads from the subway. And for controversy about a show on the dangers of fascist totalitarianism, the answer may surprise you:
Officials confirmed Wednesday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered them removed.
You know who else restricted speech in public places!
Cuomo tightly controls the Metropolitan Transit Authority, so he’s taken authority over such decisions.
But the story couldn’t be more interesting. Fascism is so bad that the ruling authority needs to decide what commercial speech is acceptable in public spaces? The governor ordering the ads pulled is exactly the kind of government control the show warns about.
Yet the Associated Press, which would have approximately no trouble connecting the dots between government control of artistic and commercial speech and a fictitious TV show about the dangers of totalitarianism if a conservative had made the order, can’t even manage to put this information in the lede of its story?
Let’s hope the rest of the country is able to 1) distinguish between alt-history books and actual calls for fascism and 2) be skeptical of government over-reach when it comes to controlling speech in the public square.