Friday 24 March 2017

An open letter to the people who used this woman's picture to spread hatred

Hi there,

You're one of the countless thousands of people who shared the slightly different picture of this poor woman (the carefully selected image where she didn't look quite so distressed) in order to whip up a storm of anti-Muslim hatred. This is an open letter to you explaining why you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

Here's what the woman said about the incident and the way her image has been appropriated as extreme-right propaganda:

"Not only have I been devastated by witnessing the aftermath of a shocking and numbing terror attack, I've also had to deal with the shock of finding my picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia" [source]

It doesn't take a great deal of empathy to understand how devastating it must be to have been caught up in the aftermath of an appalling terrorist attack, and then to have had an out-of-context picture of you (taken as you called your family from the epicentre of a terrorist atrocity to tell them that you're OK) appropriated by extreme-right fanatics in order to whip up a storm of hatred.

The problem is though is that if you've adopted the divisive extreme-right hatemongering mentality, it's likely you're extremely lacking in basic human decency or empathy, which means you're likely incapable of feeling shame at the grotesque misrepresentation you've helped to perpetrate.

The poor woman who had her picture appropriated by the extreme-right wasn't the only one to be horrified. The photographer Jamie Lorriman also spoke out about the way his picture had been cruelly misappropriated by anti-Muslim hatemongers like the right-wing paedophile apologist Milo Yiannopoulos.

The grand irony of course is that by helping the extreme-right fanatics to whip up a storm of anti-Muslim hatred, you've actually been doing the terrorists work for them.

The extreme-right and the terrorists have far more in common with each other than they do with decent ordinary people. They both thrive in atmospheres of fear. They both incite division and hatred. They both crave for a violent clash of civilisations and work tirelessly to make their sick dreams come true.

By sharing misleading extreme-right propaganda like the desperately misleading image of this poor woman, you've actually been doing the work of the terrorists for them by spreading even more hatred and division.

The sad thing is that most of you will be far too cowardly to admit this fact even to yourselves, let alone to the rest of us. In fact I suspect most of you will have been too cowardly to even dare read this letter, even though in many cases it will have been posted on your social media account by friends and family who were rightly horrified at your shockingly divisive behaviour.

I genuinely hope that you have the strength of character to admit to yourself that what you did was cruel and divisive, and that this experience helps you to learn to be more careful about what you share in future.


Tom (AAV)

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