In Dearborn, Michigan, American Muslims held a march to denounce ISIS. As in they held an actual parade to condemn ISIS and ISIS’ version of Islam which is, uncannily enough, exactly what many shrieking xenophobes (e.g. sitting congressman and King of the Mole Rats Steve King) have been demanding American Muslims “do” in order to disassociate themselves with the bad people.
You know what happened next, right? It took about 10 days for conservatives online to start sending each other pictures of the march with claims that it was a rally in support of ISIS. Jesse Singal:
“This is Dearborn Michigan after the radical Islamic attack in California ! These are Isis flags and Isis supporters folks but the media has not reported because of politically correctness.” It had been shared almost 3,700 times, and I also found a tweet with the same photo that had been retweeted more than 1,300 times.I assured the guy who had messaged me that if ISIS were openly demonstrating in Dearborn (which has one of the highest proportions of Arab-Americans in the country and which is therefore a frequent subject of unhinged rumors about Muslims), “the media” would be all over it, and that this was probably false — but that I’d look into it.
That’s right. American Muslims hold an actual motherflippin’ parade to denounce ISIS and terrorism, and anti-Muslims immediately convince themselves that the pictures are (1) from a secret pro-ISIS rally, (2) being covered up by the entire American media establishment because of “politically correctness”, and (3) further proof that American Muslims are coming to murder us all no matter what the stupid politically correctness press and them Muslim folks say.
Facts be damned, this is going to be the version that floats around conservative circles from now until the end of civilization. We can expect that some House Republican will be asserting this conspiracy theory as evidence of the threat presented by American Muslims anytime now, and the odds are 2 to 1 that the Republican will be Rep. Steve King, still mewing through gritted teeth about how them Muslim folks are coming to kill us all and why won’t they speak up and say so if they’re not?
I know I tend to harp on this a bit, but if there is a defining “politically correctness” in the American media, it is the longstanding unwillingness to point out that a good chunk of our political debate is being undertaken by stupid people. Deeply stupid people. Shockingly, deeply stupid people. The original image sharer(?) grumbled that it was indeed an “Anti-ISIS” march, but opined that it was therefore “just a ploy to try to curry favor.” It took not long at all for the same image shared in the same circles to become proof that Muslims in America were rallying in support of ISIS, just like Donald Trump keeps saying they do.
Upon which it then shuddered through the conservative internet in a thousand-plus retweeted posts about this new terrifying menace in the “no-go zone” of Dearborn, Michigan, that proves American Muslims want their fellow Americans dead. No doubt it all ties in to Jade Helm somehow.
There’s no apparent cure for this. Bobby Jindal will go to his grave believing Muslim “no-go zones” are sprouting everywhere, places where not even the police will go and in which national laws no longer apply. Donald Trump will be dead and buried six feet deep in his solid gold coffin and his headstone will read I did too see celebrating Muslims. Media outlets or conspiracy-debunking outlets like Snopes will be treated as the enemy—it doesn’t matter what the facts are, what matters is whether the conspiracy makes the poster feel they are right about the world and every other last sodding person is wrong.
And yes, there is apparently no level of “denunciation of terrorism” that America’s many, many Muslims can offer up—and they should not have to, because fine American Christians have been shooting up buildings for a good long time and you don’t see churches holding parades through town to denounce that version of the faith—that won’t be summarily dismissed by deeply stupid bigots or twisted into “proof” of whatever the deeply stupid bigot wanted to believe in the first place.