When Nilanjana sent me this graphic earlier today, I have to admit that after my initial anger, my second reaction was one of resignment. After all, the arrest of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad earlier this week brought with it the usual blanket condemnation of all things Pakistani. Even funnyman Stephen Colbert milked laughs with his emphasis on the name ‘Faisal.‘ Was it so unreasonable to think that the New York’s Metropolitan Transportation System would issue posters saying ‘If You See Something, Say Something. Even if You’re Pretty Sure He’s Just a Pakistani?’ Given the treatment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, I was not at all convinced this was a hoax.
Luckily, both Nila and I were mistaken and this poster is not, in fact, an actual MTA poster. Gawker got it from a blog called The Daily Salty, whose author wondered back in 2007 whether or not the poster was genuine. He wrote, “Just how are people supposed to know they are Pakistani? And say not Sri Lankan? or from Trinidad?’ And of course as we all well know, folks living 10 miles apart on opposite sides of the Wagah border look very, very different (snark).
A comment on the post led to the creator, a graphic designer who created a series of gag posters as a joke. (Although it turns out it did actually get him a real job designing subway posters). Whew, good to know. Otherwise a real mutiny was about to go down up in here.