Friday, May 11, 2018

How Russia played with our minds in 2016

This is how Russia played with our minds: They hyped hate and used cheap Facebook advertising to appeal to existing prejudices...and receptive minds and hearts shared them with friends...multiplying the hate messages to millions. They were bi-partisan and even targeted liberals to hate right wingers more,  but the greatest unwitting targets were on the right. For a list of kinds of targets and the numbers of voters who saw them, there is a good summary by CBS News.

 This one on Shariah law, anti Muslim hate mongering, posed a non existing threat, and the fake cause was taken up even in my rural Grand County. Why did they do this? They see democracy as a threat to their authoritarian rule and want to make sure it fails and weakens the US. A house divided cannot stand...approach.
Some new information re the Sharia law scare:

This is an update and reposting of an October 17,2017 blog post on this one particular Russian propaganda/active measures use of Facebook advertising.

In the meantime, in April 2018, Donald Trump appointed John Bolton to be his national security adviser who chaired Gatestone, partially funded by the Mercers, that spewed anti Muslim propaganda in 2016 and which was amplified by Russian bots in the election.

The Muslim travel ban will be argued in the US supreme court:


The root of the Muslim ban goes back to the 2016 campaign and it reflected fear of anything Muslim and Islam that has been brewing among a segment of our population . Fear of terrorism is one factor. But since at least 2004 a wave of fear spread across the South that Islam's religious Sharia law would soon be coming to their state.. That has been one element feeding that blanket hatred of anything Muslim and a desire to keep their followers out of the US. Fear of Sharia is a form of  Islamphobia that cropped up again in Grand County with a controversial speaker recently at Constitution Week in Grand Lake. as reported in the Sky Hi News ( The story resulted in a heated exchange of letters to the editor, attacking and defending the point of view expressed at the event.

Those raging against Islam and Muslims often  promote  fear that Sharia law will become the law of the US, or they ask it  in terms, "do you want your neighbor to practice Sharia law and be able to beat their wives ".
Practically speaking  we are in no danger of having Sharia law  imposed on Americans.  American  Muslims have little  political clout since adult Muslims comprise  2% of our population. 58% of those are immigrants. 42% are US born.

There is also a constitutional angle to the Sharia law issue  Thanks to our Constitution, we cannot establish any state religion."  In 1791, the First Amendment was adopted. The "Establishment Clause" forbade Congress (and later, the states) from passing laws which adopt a state religion or to favor one religion over others. In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the U.S. Supreme Court explained:

Banning Sharia law has been a hot topic in legal and political circles, and often fueled by fear of Muslims. Anti Muslim sentiment erupted in the 2016 election in the form of Trump's Muslim ban.

Ignorance of the practice of Islam fuels much of the anti Muslim hysteria.. Sharia law is interpreted and applied  many different  ways in many different countries. Physical   spousal abuse  is not condoned by all Muslims and clerics, and Islamic scholars, either.  The practice of Islam varies from country to country and cultural and customs are as much an influence as the interpretation of their  theology.  Attitudes toward Sharia law as official law  also vary widely per a PEW research poll. Even in the Middle East, less than 30% of Muslims in Lebanon support Sharia law. In Bosnia, 15% support Sharia law; Turkey 12%. Highest support of Sharia law outside the Arabian peninsula   is in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and to lesser extent in some Southeast Asian and  African countries..

The Sky Hi News reported  that the speaker felt confident she could be  safely outspoken against Islam  because there were no Muslims in Grand County. She feared for her life because she  was  working  undercover  for a Christian ministry. I wonder how many in Grand County have ever met a Muslim. Such one sided, extreme  opinions can easily  find  fertile ground to grow here.

Our Islamphobia makes us vulnerable to being duped by adversaries such as Russia. .As we have learned through news reports and Congressional hearing testimony ,  Russians saw  an opportunity to weaken  US world influence, sow internal dissent and hatred, and interfere in our elections by  hyping  anti- Muslim hysteria that supported Donald Trump's anti Muslim oratory. One tool the Russians used was social media to organize a Muslim hate rally in Twin Falls, Idaho in 2016. A Russian originated Facebook site promoted an anti Muslim rally in Houston, last year, as well, posing as a Texas organization.

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