The devastating attacks on the office of satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo this week incited not only an outpouring of compassion, sympathy and support from the public, but, unfortunately, churned out the vitriol. A member of Al- Qaeda in Yemen is claiming responsibility for the attack that left 12 dead, calling it "revenge for the honor of the Prophet Muhammed" in the face of the cartoons the paper published satirizing Islam. The creative community was particularly hurt, not only by the tragic loss of life at the Paris newspaper, but at the senseless and violent attack on free speech and humor as pillars of a democratic society. On the other side, though, are those who wanted to demonize all of Islam for the actions of few — and aren't we all just so lucky that the hundred-year old sentient lizard king Rupert Murdoch entered the conversation, saying that all Muslims must take responsibility for the acts of the Hebdo killers?
That's right, portrait of honor and civility Rupert Murdoch — whose conglomerate News Corp was blasted last year by the FBI and the Scotland Yard — immediately made that very, VERY small jump in logic that is popular among bigots: blame the entire, enormous group for the actions of lone outliers, and be a halfwitted sleaze while you do it. Murdoch tweeted his irresponsible, racist and misspelled opinions on Twitter. But luckily, J.K. Rowling saw his posts and responded in kind. Murdoch said: "Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible."
Pro-tip: if you're going to be a bigot, at least know how to spell the name of the group you're attacking?! Rowling wasn't having any of Murdoch's ignorance, though, and swung back with:
First of all: sweet burn, to be honest, but what less can we can expect from the women who invented a Marauders map that will insult you? And what better way to expose the utter absurdity of a man's argument than to use him as an example of the opposite?
It's easy to point to Murdoch's anti-Islamic tweets are ridiculous, racist and absurd — all of which they are. To say that all members of a religion can be judged from the actions of two people is not only dangerous but, unfortunately, not rare: more than 2000 people favorited the tweet and more than 4000 retweeted it. The kind of audience Murdoch has is still huge, depsite the fact that he is as soulless as he is ignorant.
That's why it's good for Rowling to weigh in, someone famous who has just as wide a reach to spread messages about tolerance. One person responded to her original tweet saying that Islam was anti-humanity and she deftly shut it down with stats about how many Muslims are killed by radical extremists. It's easy to look at hateful tweets like Murdoch's and write them off as absurd, to laugh at the sheer stupidity of them and move on. But thank god we have someone like Rowling to address directly the vitriol, because if we all underestimated the power of that kind of blind, evil thinking, it could very easily amass and grow legs. That's the problem with bigotry: it's hatred with a lot of confidence, and Rowling's response reminds us to always pay attention and call out those extreme in their prejudice.
[Twitter Embed: https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/statuses/554231217915441152]