Tuesday, January 12, 2021

the last book I ever read (Anne Applebaum's Twilight of Democracy, excerpt eleven)

from Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism by Anne Applebaum:

A similar international network went into high gear after the 2019 fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. ISD tracked thousands of posts from people claiming to have seen Muslims “celebrating” the fire, as well as from people posting rumors and pictures that purported to prove there had been deliberate arson. A site called CasoAislado had one up almost immediately, claiming that “hundreds of Muslims” were celebrating in Paris and using an image that looked as through people with Arabic surnames were posting smiley-face emoticons under scenes of the fire on Facebook. A few hours later, Abascal tweeted his disgust at these “hundreds of Muslims,” using the same image. He linked to it via a post by the American alt-right conspiracy theorist Paul Watson—who, in turn, sourced the same image to a French far-right activist named Damien Rieu. “Islamists want to destroy Europe and Western civilization by celebrating the fire of #NotreDame,” wrote Abascal: “Let’s take note before it’s too late.”

These same kinds of memes and images then rippled through Vox’s WhatsApp and Telegram fan groups. Members of these groups shared an English-language meme showing Paris “before Macron” with Notre Dame, and “after Macron” with a mosque in its place. They also shared a news video, made about another incident, that seemed to be alluding to arrests and gas bombs found in a nearby car. It was a perfect example of the American alt-right, the European far right, and Vox all messaging the same thing, at the same time, in multiple languages, attempting to create the same emotions across Europe, North America, and beyond.

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