How Fake News Can Lead to Bigotry, Hatred and Violence

The largest Arab and Muslim population (and no, those aren’t the same thing) in the United States is here in Dearborn, Michigan. About 40% of the residents are Arab or Muslim. That has spawned all kinds of ridiculous claims from Islamophobes about it and those claims are now causing threats of violence.

Credit: JMacpherson
Credit: JMacpherson

A couple days ago, a Twitter account called Latina for Trump posted a video of a far-right Islamophobe claiming that a Dearborn policeman told him there were lots of honor killings there, none of which have ever been reported.

The information is based on a video by anti-Islam zealot and felon, David Woods, who spent years inciting violence against Muslims. He claims in an old video that a Dearborn police officer told him that Muslims were killing their daughters.

“Girls have been killed for having boyfriends, and the department keeps it quiet,” Woods said. “I’ve never heard of any honor killings in Dearborn, and yet, according to a police officer, it’s happening, and they are making sure people don’t hear about it.”

Dearborn police scoffed at the accusations, saying most officers aren’t even Muslim, and there is no conspiracy to hide honor killings.

It’s a farcical claim, of course; in the age of the internet, there’s no possible way that could happen without word spreading quickly. And for crying out loud, the mayor is Irish and 60% of the residents of the city are neither Arab nor Muslim. But if you tell a wingnut that they are hiding the truth from them, it’s like catnip to a cat. That led to people posting a picture of an ISIS rally in Dearborn that was, in fact, an anti-ISIS rally. And that led to responses like this:

This is why fake news matters. These toxic lies spread like wildfire through the wingnut-o-sphere and it foments hatred, bigotry and violence.

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