A couple of days ago I wrote a post asking whether the prevalence of “bad” activism (destructive, hateful, anti-rights) was overblown. I suggested that we reference the destructive potential of digital technology more than this destructive activism actually occurs.
This is not to “bad” activism never happens. Today I found one strong example that it does: the digital promotion of “Burn a Koran Day,” an all-day festival put on by the Dove World Outreach Center to commemorate September 11th by showing the supposedly evil nature of Islam. The church’s founder, Terry Jones, is also using this book-burning, in bitter irony, to promote his own book, called simply “Islam is of the Devil”.
Dove World is using a lot of digital technology to promote their anti-Islamic cause. They have a nice web site, video of Terry Jones spreading the word, and a blog explaining their beliefs. The official web site of the book-burning is a Facebook fan page. This is certainly a prime example of how digital technology can be used to promote a violent, hateful, and ignorant cause.
But the story doesn’t end there. Because, as we all know, ours is a read-write web. Our media is social, not broadcast. If you want to create a Facebook fan page, or a blog post, you better be ready for people to respond. And people have responded. A blog post called “5 Reasons to Burn a Koran” has three very thoughtful comments, all of which oppose the idea. Here are some quotes, not from “liberal elites,” but from devout Christian:
Submitted by Pondering Life on September 7, 2010 – 6:15pm.
The Lord does not need you to burn the Quran. Only the Holy Spirit has the wisdom needed to reach the Muslim people. Your plan will alienate Muslims from Christianity. Your plan puts the lives of Christians whom God has placed in Muslim countries as His light to the Muslim people in grave danger.
Submitted by joel.cushing on September 7, 2010 – 4:45pm.
And the violence will not “be exposed”–it already has on a golbal [sic] scale, so you can’t take credit for that. But you will be able to take credit for an increase in violence–adding more fuel to the fire, is that your goal?
Submitted by joel.cushing on September 7, 2010 – 4:34pm.
Do you really think that Jesus would have a Koran burning party? Is this the sort of “tactic” that He would use to win the hearts of men? I’ll give you ten reasons NOT to participate in this act of hate—yes, it will be received as an act of hate in the world of Islam (see reason #1 below).
The Facebook page, which does have about 10,000 fans, has a wall that is a pretty even mix of supporters of the action, opponents, and trolls. While there are comments like these…
Solvo Sermo Vindex Provoke(mosque at ground zero)….wait for retaliation(burn koran day)…then cry victim and scream persecution….this is Islam
Islam Come Warning if it does not move away from the Qur’an and Muslims
You do not know anything about Islam, nor the power
…there are also comments that are pro-Islamic and denounce intolerance:
Isra Layl Mahatma Gandhi, statement published in ‘Young India,’1924.
” I wanted to know the best of the life of one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind…. I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the… rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission.
Jonathan Justice Look at all of YOU.. How sad. This is exactly what Evil wants of Humankind. Division and malice amongst all of us and to dishonor ourselves, and God first and foremost. How can we be so blind and divided and allow Evil to influence our lives in such a way. You all know the only way we can…overcome all the negatives and Evils in this world is through UNITY.
Spreading hate, especially in a virulent and unequivocal way, is more complicated if one is using social media. You can spread a message but you have to be prepared for a response from people who disagree with you, and whose responses will be placed beside your own. Ugly as it is, this is the digital public sphere.