No, the most powerful influence was exerted neither by individual speeches nor by articles or flyers, posters or flags; it was not achieved by things which one had to absorb by conscious thought or conscious emotions. Instead Nazism permeated the flesh and blood of the people through single words, idioms and sentence structures which were imposed on them in a million repetitions and taken on board mechanically and unconsciously. … Language does not simply write and think for me, it also increasingly dictates my feelings and governs my entire spiritual being the more unquestioningly and unconsciously I abandon myself to it. And what happens if the cultivated language is made up of poisonous elements or has been made the bearer of poisons? Words can be like tiny doses of arsenic: they are swallowed unnoticed, appear to have no effect, and then after a little time the toxic reaction sets in after all.
The Language of the Third Reich (2002), p. 15.
So, president Trump has retweeted three tweets from Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of far-right group Britain First.Britain First is being accused of helping spread Islamophobic and racist content across the internet.
According to the spokesperson of the president, Sanders, by focusing on “the nature of the video, you’re focusing on the wrong thing.” So that is exactly what we will do here.
The three posts that the President posted were much in the vein of the work the group usually does. They depicted people who the group claimed were migrants involved in various crimes – and used them to implicitly blame all Muslims for the behaviour. These are the tweets with some background on the videos embedded.
This is from an amateur video made in Egypt during the unrest in 2013 after Morsi was ousted. It created a huge shock and contributed to the anti Muslim Brotherhood atmosphere in Egypt and shows several teenagers being chased by a mob of angry men onto a water tower on a rooftop. One of them, Hamada Badr, died. MEE disputes some of the story claiming that an innocent guy has been executed as the perpetrator and links the event to ISIS.
The oldest source I could find was Memri. According to Memri the video shows Sheik Omar Raghba in the Yakubiya village of Syria, (posted online October 2013). Omar Raghba was, at the time, affiliated with ISIS according to this post on the Long War Journal.
The video cannot be found at Dumpert (the original source) anymore as the perpetrator was arrested. And hey, as it turned out, the boy was probably not a Muslim, not a migrant. Also the Dutch Public Prosecutor has now stated as such:
Op twitter is filmpje gedeeld over ruzie tussen 2 minderjarige jongens. Dit voorval speelde zich af in mei '17. De officier van justitie van parket Noord-Holland heeft dossier beoordeeld. De in NL geboren verdachte heeft HALT-afdoening gekregen. Dat traject is positief afgerond.
— OM Noord-Holland (@OMNoord_Holland) November 29, 2017
The tweet states:
On Twitter, a video was shared about a quarrel between 2 underage boys. This incident occurred in May ’17. The prosecutor of the Noord-Holland prosecutor’s office assessed the file. The suspect born in the Netherlands received HALT settlement. That process has been positively completed.
Because the boy who attacked is underage no details about his identity are released and the victim has requested the video to be deleted from Dumpert. And also the Dutch embassy weighs in:
.@realDonaldTrump Facts do matter. The perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received and completed his sentence under Dutch law.
— Netherlands Embassy 🇺🇸 (@NLintheUSA) November 29, 2017
Threads of hate
So what we have here are three tweets by Britain First hate-monger Jayda Fransen being retweeted by the president of the United States. Sanders, the aforementioned spokesperson, also said: “The threat is real, what the president is talking about, the need for national security and military spending, those are very real things, there’s nothing fake about that,”. And although facts to matter, the damage these tweets do go beyond the question of they are correct or not. They are used to legitimize security and military measures and they land in an environment that is already poisoned with anti-Muslim racism. The tweets without any context are good examples of hate propaganda:
1) People are being categorized as Muslims and perpetrators, linking religion with violence. The fact that in one case the victims were also Muslims is not mentioned.
2) People allegedly(!) associated with ISIS or any other organization deemed barbaric and repugnant are not categorized as such, but with the general label of Muslim
3) In two cases the alleged perpetrator has been arrested and convicted. Also this is left out: fellow country men (and Muslims) who correct these wrongdoings.
4) These three tweets do not exist on their own: they are part of a broader trend of anti-Muslim racist messages by political leaders and other people that focus on the notion of the dangerous Other.
5) It basically excludes Muslims from participating in the public sphere because every time they speak out, they are being referred to these messages as in saying: why do you critique our society, what about….?
6) This form of hate propaganda gains credibility by sharing: “The weight of support behind the post becomes its credibility.” Trump sharing the tweets and the subsequent reaction by Fransen is an example of that.
7) Fake news has real consequences.