No, America didn’t lose WWII. But a train on New York City’s 42nd Street shuttle line is decorated with fascist imagery.
The train is covered floor to ceiling (there are literally advertisements on the ceiling) in posters promoting The Man in the High Castle, a new Amazon series that imagines America under a Nazi regime. Spotted by Gothamist on Monday, the Third Reich-y train is decked out in images of the Nazi Reichsadler and the Japanese Imperial flag.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which owns the subways’ advertising space, says the ads meet their requirements of being “content-neutral” or non-political in nature.
“In our determination, these ads are promoting a TV show, which is commercial speech,” MTA spokesperson Adam Lisberg told the Daily Beast. “They are not advocating a Nazi takeover of the United States, which would be political.”
But the MTA hammer of neutrality has fallen heavier on other ad campaigns.
An April marketing campaign for an anti-Islamophobia documentary hit an unexpected roadblock when its creators tried purchasing subway advertising space. The documentary, created by comedians Dean Obeidallah (a frequent Daily Beast contributor) and Negin Farsad, was titled The Muslims Are Coming!
According to the MTA, a promotional poster reading “Beware: The Muslims are Coming!” was unacceptable for the subways, as it violated the rule against political subway ads. Ironically, the rule had been passed earlier that month, shortly after a court ruled that anti-Muslim ads could be displayed on MTA property. Obeidallah and Farsad’s posters were a direct response to this anti-Muslim campaign.
Outfront Media, a management group that oversees MTA advertisements, also took issue with a campaign for “Thinx,” a brand of menstrual underwear. The ad campaign showed women in their underwear, alongside images of grapefruits and egg yolks, which Outfront condemned as too suggestive.
Counter-critics were quick to point out that the MTA frequently allows advertisements that portray women’s bodies in a suggestive way, including ads for breast enhancements and “beach body” diet supplements.
The MTA eventually agreed to run the Thinx ads, and an October ruling in Manhattan’s District Court overturned the MTA’s ban on Obeidallah and Farsad’s “The Muslims Are Coming!” posters.
But even if the MTA runs the ads, they don’t have to like them.
"They offended me," said MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast said of the Thinx ads during a board meeting. No word on how MTA officials personally feel about the “Man in the High Castle” ads.