The ISIS’ Parrots: the Mistakes That Media Must Not Repeat

Rilanciare la propaganda terrorista è "informazione"?

Imagine the Sicilian Mafia opening its own newsroom: how do you think it would be received by the newspapers? Imagine the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Christian fundamentalist rebel group terrorizing central Africa with its child soldiers, broadcasting its own news: how do you think the media would use it? Would each piece of information be slavishly repeated, just like parrots do, or copy-pasted like every well-domesticated pen-pusher would do? Obviously not! It would be reported along a thousand warnings, the complete list of sources, and it would be fully analyzed. But with the terroristic group Daesh (Islamic State), our behavior was very different: fundamentalists delivered their own propaganda material with a bow on it, and the media copied and pasted it to the public, with no warnings, with no hesitations.

For example, the executions of alleged homosexuals: thrown out from towers or being crucified. What we knew for sure is that people had been killed with savage methods. Any other information had been fed to us by the very criminal organization who committed the act. The Islamic State wanted us to believe those people were homosexual, it wanted us to know it happened on a specific day, on a specific time. Now, unless we blindly trusted these fanatics, we didn’t have a way to know what was real, but we couldn’t be quiet; on the other hand, we couldn’t allow ourselves to be instrumentalized by terrorists.

Such a dilemma demands a well-planned and meditated conduct (that should not imply silence; Il Grande Colibrì wrote about Syrian fundamentalists in 2014, before it was trending), and a vast public discussion, but the majority of the media – including many LGBT blogs and sites all over the world – do not pick up on these controversial aspects (or they prefer to ignore them?), choosing incoherent and unethical solutions.

This approach turned into an infinite reflection of radical propaganda since no one clarified that the information had not been verified; a perpetual reposting of cherry-picked details (perhaps even made up ones) and uncensored images. The Islamic State parrots justified this method by appealing to the “right to information”, even if they ignored the Syrian conflict before macabre pictures, and they continued to ignore independent sources without macabre pictures.

This conduct could appear extravagant but it was indeed premeditated by the self-proclaimed caliphate. These are, most certainly, fanatics but evidently overly conscious of the media dynamics. The Islamic State (aka Daesh) seeded its propaganda as if it was the will of God, attracting media like flies, which made them even more powerful, even more frightful.

The power of fear allowed the media to gain more readers. It was enough to add some angry comment to that very situation which was disregarded until that very moment, title it with morbid tones: “SHOCKING images show Islamic State throwing gay men to death”, “Horrific photos show ISIS terrorists throwing a gay man off a roof”, “This picture was taken minutes before ISIS threw a man off a building for being gay”… A slaughtering parade with no reasons to be given where we all take the role of the butcher. Was this really who we wanted to be?


translation by Barbara Burgio
©2017 Il Grande Colibrì
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