I get hundreds of emails every week. Some are of immediate local relevance, some are press releases from various entities, and some go directly into the trash — scams, solicitations and the like.
But I got one email this week that made me pause. I’ve probably gotten others like it in the past and immediately just hit delete. A morbid curiosity got the better of me this time, and I scrolled down. As it turns out, this email provided a disturbing, if small, window into the anti-immigration, white supremacist online world.
I don’t know who forwarded it to me, but it was a local email address. Obviously this email is making the rounds, and like many of its ilk, it begs the receiver to forward it on. I will not be doing so.
So what’s it all about? It purports to be from “neutral” tourists who have visited France, which these tourists claim is “being destroyed”. What follows is a lesson in selective presentation to fit an agenda. A series of photos show Paris, junk-strewn public places, and non-white men and women doing various things (perhaps in Paris, but who knows?), interspersed with a diatribe about how there aren’t any white people anymore and everything is filthy and deteriorating.
Now, if one looks at these things critically, the whole narrative quickly falls apart. Even as the text is proclaiming there is not a white person in sight, the photos show white people in the background, though the main subjects of the photos aren’t. Hilariously, though one is obviously supposed to believe these are photos taken by the “tourists” who’ve written this email, one of the photos even shows a photographic credit down the side as is common with stock photos and professional photographers. So images have been deliberately sought out and cobbled together to create a racist fairy tale, designed to stoke fear and disgust.
I couldn’t help but wonder how many people got this same email, or one like it, but instead of looking at it critically, as I did, simply took it at face value, absorbing the agenda of the author.
In huge typeface at the end is the real point of the whole thing: “Pitiful…. Is America Next?” See, whoever is pushing this sewage wants you to feel like the enemy is at the gate and that your community is in danger. What the “danger” is is left nebulous, of course, so that everyone can imagine their own individual worst fears.
Next time you’re forwarded something like this, at the very least take a few minutes and think critically about the content. The cracks will quickly become obvious, shattering the smoke and mirrors.