I have very little to say on the subject of the Charlie Hebdo massacre that hasn’t already been said better by others, so I shall only offer my thoughts to the friends and families of those killed. But what I would like to look at is the aftermath.
Fox News “terrorism expert” Steve Emerson claimed on air that there were places in the UK, “like Birmingham” that are totally Muslim and “non-Muslims just don’t go there!” – not only very offensive but also very untrue, obviously. And this kind of factless scaremongering is dangerous following such a high-profile killing spree as seen in Paris last week.
As soon as video of this hit YouTube Twitter – predictably – launched a hashtag game based on it called #FoxNewsFacts. Basically, take a ridiculous fact and make it a bit racist. Hilarious, right? Yes, for a bit. But suddenly I found myself reading #FoxNewsFacts that seemed to transcend the mocking of Fox and started to take on a nasty bite of their own.
Some managed to attack Fox News’ ignorance AND Muslims generally in one fell swoop – surely somewhat missing the point of the tag, right? Wasn’t it started to highlight the ignorance of a major news provider, not to make word-play puns on Islamic tradition? Sure, “Shakira Law” is funny in context of noted EDL mispronunciations, but in and of itself is just a bad gag. A photo of Birmingham’s BT Tower with the caption “Birmingham’s largest minaret” works in context, but loads of photos of other towers – just towers, not in Birmingham, just anywhere – with weaker, less-relevant captions about how Islam is “everywhere in the UK” is one step short of marching with the EDL.
I had a thought this morning, too: isn’t mocking the uneducated and ignorant among us, the uninformed and stupid, the less-intelligent… isn’t making fun of those who know less than us and don’t have the intelligence to realise that research is important a mean thing to do? Aren’t we better than that? Sure, complain! But should we mock? Isn’t the error a little more important than that?! And have we really gone from “Solidarité #JeSuisCharlie” to “Britan has got so many muslims that all the whites have got to move to USA to work for Fox News lol #piersmorgan #foxnewsfacts” a bit easily?
Now I know I’ve not put up much of an argument and I know that many of the Fox News Facts are clever and funny and well-informed, but some aren’t. Yes, I know that’s the nature of Twitter and I should learn to live with it. Tolerance, right? Sure.
I still think it’s worth being a bit nicer to each other.