Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Rumors, lies and hate-mongering

"Ausländer, Sex, Gewalt - das ist ein toxischer Mix, der den Leuten den Verstand benebelt. Wen kümmert da noch, was Wahrheit ist, was Lüge?" (Foreigners, sex, violence - that is a toxic mix that fogs people's understand. Then who worries bothers about what is true and what is a lie?") - Jakob Augstein, Die Schaumschlägerei von Schorndorf Spiegel Online 24.07.2017

"The intent of the tale that Trump told his rabid fans in Ohio was simple: foment hatred for immigrants." - Rex Huppke, Donald Trump's behavior is abnormal Chicago Tribune 07/26/2017

Augstein was referring to an incident in Germany during a Volksfest in a southern German town. The Volkfests are basically roudy outdoor beer parties that particular attract teenagers and young adults. Reported violence there picked up on an ambiguous local police report that could be read as a thousand people having rioted. Actually, it was pretty clear in the police report that they meant there were 1000 people in attendance and there were some violent incidents, which apparently happen at this event every year. But the rumor mill online and elsewhere took it as a thousand people rioting and treated it up into a model sinister case of criminal foreigners attacking good innocent Germans. The buzzwords became things like "sex crimes," "Migrant" and "attack on police." (Alexander Schulz, Chronik einer Eskalation Spiegel Online 20.07.2017)

Although it's worth noting that erroneous version was first promoted not by skinheads or Russian bots, but by the respectable DPA news agency.

In the American case, it was the President himself promoting the foreigner-sex-violence hate slogans in front of a crowd of New York police, some of whom were applauding his nastiest and most violence-encouraging comments. Huppke's take on it was to focus on the demagoguery of Trump's torture porn:

That's a story the president of the United States told at a rally in Ohio on Tuesday night. It's a creepy story, one that mixes unnecessarily detailed savagery with the image of "a young, beautiful girl."

There's no mention of the anecdote's origin, no specifics on when or where a "beautiful, beautiful, innocent" young person was sliced and diced and put through "excruciating pain." There is just the violent imagery, and the repeated reference to "animals."

That's weird. It's intentionally dehumanizing an entire group of people, which I'll get to in a moment, but it's also just weird. Weird in a way that if someone at a bar told you that story you'd excuse yourself and walk away as quickly as possible.

It's sadistic.
And Huppke actually fact-checked a bit:

Did his story of slicing and dicing stem from an actual event? I don't know.

The closest story I could find was the murder of two teen girls on Long Island last year. They were attacked by members of the brutal MS-13 street gang and beaten to death with bats and a machete. Several of the gang members arrested were in the country illegally.

Without question, there are crimes committed by people who are here illegally. But as a group, immigrants — both documented and undocumented — commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans.
Fact-checking and explaining reality will normally not directly counteract the effect of such hate-mongering on those who want to hear it.

But fact matter, too.

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