How Fear-Mongering and Hate Degrades Us All
Today, I happened upon a very ignorant post on my Facebook feed. And I mean that in the most literal of terms: it was uninformed, uneducated, and completely oblivious to actual facts (not to mention close-minded, hurtful, fear-mongering and racist). And you know what came into my mind, after my initial feelings of disappointment (in the person sharing the post, in the person writing the post, in those liking and agreeing with the post), sadness and shock?
In the voices of both Richard White (of the 1991 cartoon version) and Luke Evans (of the most recent, live action version), in the dress of the famous villain, Gaston, I heard the words, “Kill the Beast!”
You know the scene from Beauty and the Beast, don’t you? The spurned Gaston, discovering he is not wanted and unable to handle the attack on his ego, gathers the villagers and convinces them to go after the beast, and, as the words say…kill him.
Why would they do that, you ask? Just because Gaston said they should? Especially when he holds no actual facts, is no more educated than they are, with no more ability to read a book than anyone else.
Because they’re ignorant village people, most of them illiterate and uneducated, susceptible to the equally ignorant rantings of the most popular man in the village spewing many reasons why they should be afraid. They know nothing about a this beast, he seems strong and mighty and capable of causing harm, so why wouldn’t they try and kill him? It’s a world of taking up the pitchforks first and asking questions later, or never at all! In those turbulent times, you can’t risk asking questions and getting the proper information before acting. Why, it’s as Gaston says. If they wait the beast will, “Make off with your children,”
He’ll, “Come after them in the night,”
“He’ll wreak havoc on the village if we let him wander free!”
There are so many more horrible things he will do, because he’s a beast with razor sharp fangs, massive paws and killer claws.
Am I right? I mean, Gaston has the proof in the mirror. Never mind that it was a single image of a specific situation of which he knew nothing. Did that matter to any of the villagers? No! They were afraid! They knew nothing of the Beast, they didn’t understand him, so rather than make efforts to reach out and work things out they did as all fearful humans have done since the beginning of time! They raised their torches, their pitchforks, their guns and their knives and they jumped on Gaston’s hate-filled bandwagon. They were afraid!
And can you blame them for wanting to protect themselves and their children?
Of course not.
I mean, could we blame the puritans of Salem for being afraid and therefore burning witches? After all, they were only protecting themselves from the evils of the devil and his flock.
Besides, that all took place hundreds of years ago. We’re much more evolved now, we’d never do those kinds of things. I mean, we have access to the internet, to newspapers, to information – to truth. We wouldn’t pass around ill-informed information that could hurt other people which serves no other purpose but to rile up the village and raise the pitchforks in an effort to kill a beast of which we know nothing…would we? We read accounts of the rivers of blood that flowed during the French Revolution. We learned about the slaughter of the Indians for occupying land the white people wanted. We saw photos and read reports of the horrors Hitler inflicted on millions of people. We saw the assassination of JFK, Martin Luther King Jr, and countless minorities who threatened the good ol’ villagers by merely wanting to breathe the same air as them.
I mean, we know better now. There is no place for this kind of hate-filled fear-mongering, is there?
Well, it would seem as though that is not the case.
Do I dare address this post? Is this kind of ignorance worth responding to?
No. And yes. Because here’s the thing: this post is being liked and shared and it is wrong. Like, actually touting false information as facts. Sure, people are angry with Prime Minster Trudeau and what he’s doing. Fine, we all have a right to disagree with others, especially with the policy of various leaders. However, at what point does it become not okay to publish and post blatant ignorance? If we brush this off as the posting of hateful, close-minded people, then we are just as fearful. Fearful of those who may attack us for pointing out the fallacy of their beliefs. At what point can we no longer turn a blind eye and choose to address the fact that their are reposting lies? Blatant, absolute lies. The way I see it, those who are sharing this are no better than those ignorant villagers raising torches and waving pitchforks in their desperate attempt to kill a beast who has never, nor would he ever, cause them any harm.
Here is the post, courtesy of whoever happens to be The Unified Conservative Movement Canada (with +36,000 followers):
Disarming Canadians? Really?
Where do I even start? Any person capable of critical thinking should know this is completely false. Disarming Canadians? When? There are laws put in place to prevent guns going to terrorist countries, those involved in organized crime, etc. If your guns are being taken away, you must ask yourself why? Those who hunt, can still do so. Those who use a gun responsibly, without intent to harm others, can still do so. Why do you need a gun for anything else? If you have this need for a gun/pitchfork like the rest of those villagers for purposes other than hunting or target practice, you should ask yourself, what are you afraid of? ‘Laxed gun laws haven’t exactly boded well in other places, just look up the murder rates in the states compared to here. Oh wait, if you’re posting this you don’t actually do things like look up actual facts, you just repost hate-speech. Here, how about this then: Violent crime in the states (where their citizens are so-called armed as opposed to here) is three times higher than that in Canada and their murder rate is 23 times that of Canada. That is only the beginning, there is so much more data to be looked at and considered, but as this is not an argument on gun control, I’m not going further into details. Lets just say that arming hasn’t exactly worked in their favor.
Yes, A Muslim is a Follower of Islam and No, Their Purpose is Not to Impose Shariah Law
Now, this might be petty and arrogant, but to have to specify that an Islamic refugee is also a Muslim, is a red flag. If your audience is so ignorant as to not know that a Muslim practices the religion of Islam, then we have a problem. In this day and age, to be so uneducated, is not acceptable. But I guess that’s how you get your mob of haters, isn’t it? Because those who are educated, who understand the various religions and the people who practice them, would not be waving a pitchfork alongside you, would they? Because they’d know better. The only option you have, when posting such mistruth, is to seek out those who don’t know any better for they are the only ones who will agree with you. The rest, hopefully, can see right through this bullshit.
What bullshit? Well, read on my villagers, read on…
Islamic Refugees bringing Shariah (and yes, Gaston. Contrary to what you wrote, it is ShariaH, with an H. But again, most of those villagers living hundreds of years ago did not know how to read and if they did, only on a very basic level, so we couldn’t expect you to know this, could we?) law to Canada? Whaaaaat? I must have missed something in my religious studies when they taught us about Islam. Because what I learned, and what is in the Qur’an (in case you don’t know what that is, it’s like the Bible, but for Muslims) is that Shariah (Islamic law) forbids that it be imposed on any unwilling person.
It’s forbidden to impose Shariah law on an unwilling person? But, but, but, all the Islamic Refugees have come here to impose it on us! That’s their specific intention! It says so in that picture so it must be true!!!
Furthermore, the prophet Mohammed (for those of you who do not recognize this name, he’s kind of like Jesus: a very spiritually enlightened teacher) specified that it can never be imposed through forced governmental implementation.
Wait a minute, that means that the Muslims who come here are actually going against their religion if they do impose it on us? What? But, I thought…
Yeah. You repeated and shared the words of someone who was grossly misinformed. But that’s okay, the Nazis did the same when Hitler published lies as well. You couldn’t have known better, could you?
Free Speech is Okay, Hate Speech is Not
Introducing a motion that prevents free-speech in order to subdue Islamophobia? Well, here’s the thing, it’s a motion against hatred. It’s a motion against this exact fear-mongering behavior that hurts other people. It’s not specific to Islam but to any kind of anti-religious fervour that harms others. Again, if this kind of legislature was in effect in Germany in the 1930s there’d be millions and millions more people in this world today. Condemning a person because of their beliefs, as the person who created this meme is doing as well as every single person who shares and likes and agrees with it is doing, is not free speech. Should white supremists be allowed to post racist, hate filled propaganda? No! Would you feel safe to have the KKK move in next door to you? Hate is not free speech. Hate is harmful, it’s hurtful, and if you spoke and voiced your concerns with educated questions, if your purpose was not to harm and hate a group of people but to understand them, then you’d have nothing to worry about, would you? Energy should not be spent on arguing against this law but questioning why it had to be enacted in the first place (Here’s a hint – because of hate-filled people who decided they had a right to do things like blow up mosques because of their ignorant understandings of Islam and its followers).
Illegal Immigrants? What?
Letting in unscreened, illegal immigrants? Oh, Gaston, Gaston, Gaston. Again, you can be forgiven for this kind of ignorance because you have no access to facts in a tiny village in mid-eighteenth century France. I mean, you do have access, you could walk over to the Beast’s castle and see exactly who he is first, before you decide to rally the troops against him. But, that would take a lot of work and you could be dead by then, after all, life expectancy is quite low in your century due to, again, a lack of knowledge. However, there’s this amazing thing call the internet now, well, you must know about it because you did post this on such an amazing sharing of information, however, you must not have realized that this so-called internet can also be used to fact check. Such as, refugee and immigrant screening practices of the Canadian government, which is quite extensive and indeed, in use. Or, what is, in fact, an illegal immigrant (hint: if they are welcomed into the country by the government and given the proper paperwork to live here, after going through the necessary processes to receive said paperwork, they aren’t actually illegal. Illegal immigrants are those who sneak over the border and come here without said paperwork nor with the consent of the government). In fact, if they are illegal, you can’t exactly blame the Prime Minister for that one as their illegal status actually suggests they aren’t being let in. I mean, I know that’s getting quite picky about facts and words and maybe because you’ve heard about illegal immigrants in places like the United States it’s understandable that you got a little confused, they do border us and mix-ups happens to the best of us. However, it’s usually a good idea to clear up confusions like that before you post to the internet, not after because it only makes you look like, well, an uneducated mid-eighteenth century pitchfork carrying villager in a cartoon where even the toddlers know they’re being stupid and rash and hateful.
And really, these illegal immigrants are being radicalized and want to kill us?
Oh man, I honestly don’t think I even need to respond to that. Your brilliance, your loving acceptance of all people is so obvious in that line that you’ve just kind of made my original point. Quick! Shoot First! Who cares if we have the facts, just KILL THE BEAST!!
There is no excuse for ignorance, not anymore. Those of you sharing and reposting these kinds of statements, why are you choosing hate and fear first and foremost? Why would you seek to hurt and harm rather than to help and understand?
Truly, I’d like to know, I’m curious. I know most of you won’t read this because it contains the kind of information you don’t want to hear, in fact, a lot of it is rather condescending and rude, I know that, I did it on purpose. Because something, or someone, needs to shock you out of your ignorance. I know it’s not my job to educate you, in fact, it’s your job to teach me. It’s your job to help me understand the problems facing us today in forcing me to look at myself and my beliefs, in forcing me to question why your ignorance angers me so greatly. And so thank you. Thank you for making me aware of just how far we haven’t come.
Please, if you read this and have something good to say about any of this, a story of those embracing and accepting all immigrants and refugees, no matter their religion, please, share it here. I would love to hear it.