Scott on February 6, 2006 at 11:02 am
I know that many analysts out there point out that in world of Islam, the groups labeled as “extremist/ultra-conservative/Islamofacist” are the ones attracting most of the attention. Since this attention is mostly of the negative sort, Islam itself is coming off in a very negative light. Many in the Islamic world have tried to “fight back” with various public relations pushes from time to time, typcially revolving around some cute tag-line. I’m sure that we can all chant from memory the various mantras: “Islam is a religion of peace,” “Most Muslims are peaceful Muslims,” etc. But in the end, Islam still looks bad.
And I can honestly sympathize/empathize with their plight. I am a Christian, but when Pat Robertson starts spouting off on some bizarre rant/tangent/delusion, or when “Pastor” Fred Phelps shows up with his “God Hates Fags” team at a funeral, or when Cardinal Mahoney and the Catholic Church continue to make excuses for pedophile priests and refuses to cooperate with the local district attorney, it makes all Christians look bad. I get angry and frustrated that my belief system is being lumped in with their sick/twisted/bizarre belief systems under the label of my Christianity.
So, in sympathy with your plight I want to offer to any Muslims who are interested some advice regarding how to improve your religion’s “cred out in the street.” (translation: improve Islam’s credibility out in the real world).
First of all, always remember this IMPORTANT slogan used in public relations and marketing:
Perception is the Ultimate Reality.
In other words, what people perceive (what they believe based on what they think they know) will shape their view of you, even if you believe that what they perceive is based on erroneous information. More simply put: What people think they know may not be, in reality, what they really ought to know. In fact, what you want people to know and what they want to know may be in direct conflict, so in fact, what you hope they know is not what they actually know. What they do know is their perception of what you want them to know, and what you want is a change in perception of their knowing.
Now I’m sure it’s all clear!
So, moving on
In spite of the “Islam is a religion of peace” bumper stickers, many people seem to unfairly believe that a large fraction of Islam is composed of raving, irrational, blood-thirsty lunatics, zealots, and nut-jobs. I’m sure this is an unfair characterization. You guys in Islam need to learn to how “spin,” how to play a situation for the more popular and positive angles.
Videos of helpless victims being slowly butchered with hunting knives at the hands of masked men can’t help the difficulty with public perception. Those types of videos can always be twisted to show the darker, less-loving side of Islam. Shown in context, I’m sure that these videos would present a more balanced, reasoned picture of Allah’s only true religion. Perhaps in the future, you could film those executions in a pretty garden of some kind with soothing music in the background. Or maybe do some behind the scenes filming of the
terrorists murderers protestors joking around back stage, pranking each other, and kidding around with the victim sacrifice participant as the pre-show warm up is going on. And do some audio-editing and take out those annoying screams of agony. They will tend to detract from the larger, more positive message.
Also, live footage of huge protesting crowds and angry mobs burning buildings and screaming for the end of an entire country or the destruction of Western civilization can be twisted unfairly. Yes, these groups all around the world are offended by simple, single frame cartoons, but their protests and demonstrations can be twisted unfairly to make Muslims look like screaming, spoiled, petulant children who want to play a game but only when the game runs by their rules, and when they don’t like the rules they will hold their breath ’til they turn blue, or take their ball and go home (or burn down the nearest buildings and set fire to some flags). Perhaps you could stage these protests in colder parts of the world and then show the crowds gathering around the flames to sing camp songs and roasting marshmellows. I mean, nothing says normal like Camp Town Races and s’mores!
While we’re talking about crowds and mobs, the recent fiasco involving angry Muslim youth roaming the French countryside certainly raised some eyebrows. Next time something like this happens, get ahead of the “spin game.” Point out that the lighting in many of these urban areas is quite poor, so for the sake of public safety these “peace petitioners” brought illumnination to poor neighborhoods. At the same time, take a page out of the E.L.F. (Earth Liberation Front) handbook. Point out that these new, NextGen Enviro-Muslims are taking a stand against the exploitation of the Earth for oil and protesting by burning cars (and the occasional unfortunate person who happens to be riding on rapid transit which uses the same Earth-exploting, environment-poluting fuels).
And the whole suicide bombers thing has to be “re-imaged.” Rather than calling them suicide bombers and bombings, maybe start to refer to the bombers as “performance artists” and the results/aftermath as the “performance result” or as the “finished reality canvas.” Have the performance artists start changing their recorded video messages. They need to start talking like artists, making reference to what they hope for their upcoming “work,” how they imagine the “space” to be like before and after the completion of the “event” and how the “finished reality canvas” will appear. On these new types of video messages, they should even have discussions dealing with the “medium” they will use for their particular “event,” be it C-4 (to create a more substantial statement), grenades packed with nails and ball bearings (for a more extensive, yet tastefully subtle event), or a car packed with TNT and gasoline (for an over-the-top event sure to be a real crowd-pleaser).
For roadside bombings, a similar approach can be used. Tie the whole thing together with beautification and landscaping (Earth Day is a GREAT tie-in). Get some good shots of the before and after of various bombing locations. Show the ugliness of the dried-up, poor, poverty-ridden locations before the bombings. Next have shots of the areas immediately after the bombs have exploded, showing how the prep-work has been taken care of (nobody likes to do the prep work before planting), and finally show the area being landscaped as the blast holes are used for tree planting. These could be little “victory gardens” appearing all over the place. And who doesn’t like the beauty of freshly planted greenery? Also, an added benefit is that with the amount of blood leaching into the ground in many of these locations, the need for fertilizer will be nearly eliminated.
As a last example, when a group representing a more “extreme” side of the Islamic paradigm wins an election in a pseudo-country, the reporting can be slanted. Sure, this group who won might refuse to denounce violence and terrorism. And sure, this group in the past has been responsible for countless attacks and deaths against its nearest neighbor. And yes, this pseudo-country is almost ENTIRELY dependent on foreign aide and money provided by the countries that this newly elected group wants to wipe of the face of the Earth. But nobody’s perfect. Some might say that this group wants their cake and wants to eat it, too (or in this case, they want their Jihad, but they also want their Starbucks, Verizon Wireless, and Desperate Housewives, too). Show the other side. Show the upside of Hamas, the concerned community activist side of Hamas, the sensitive side of Hamas.
What about the amazing literacy programs run by Hamas? (“See Jew run. Run, Jew, run! See Amir shoot. Shoot, Amir shoot! Die, Jew, die! Good job, Amir!)
What about the women’s studies groups sponsored by Hamas (Women should be seen and not heard. Women should not think or speak. Women should cook and have children and never disagree with a man. Women should only be heard in public when screaming in hysterical grief over the death of a child who has died for the cause of Allah.)
What about the multicultural sensitivities of Hamas (All Jews should die. All Americans should die. All non-Muslims should die. All non-Muslim, American Jews should die! Death to the West!)
I think the point here is obvious. The problem isn’t Islam. The problem is how Islam is perceived. Islam needs to learn to take control of the Public Relations game. At this point, Islam is like the Democrats in the United States who feel like they need to learn to “speak the language of faith.” Forget actually HAVING faith. Learning to use the terminology should be enough.
Muslims need to speak the language of moderation. Forget actually BEING moderate. That’s beside the point. They need to learn to play the “3 Shells Game” of politics and perception. Use the words, talk the talk, and go through the motions…And then set everything on fire and blow everything up when people are distracted as they are eating s’mores and singing camp songs.
Category: Islamic Jihad |