Extra credit Question: Are “strategic narratives” something everyday publics can control or shape? Do publics, in a sense, “matter” more to the idea that strategic narratives get international actors to change their behavior or “see the world” differently? Why?
After I wrote my blog last week, I came across a post from Vox about the “Not in my name” campaign that challenged my thinking about what I wrote last week. It made me want to clarify some things with regard to strategic narratives and I’m glad this gives me the opportunity to do just that.
I had written that the message needs to come from other Muslims or else it won’t be credible. I had written this thinking that other faiths would be considered “infidels” and not versed in scripture and thus not credible.
I still think this is true. However, upon reading a few other articles and reading this proposed blog post question, I think this is a topic worthy of clarification.
Some have said that Muslims should ALL be speaking out because they as a whole could help the strategic narrative and as this question poses “get international actors to change their behavior or see the world differently.” However, is expecting someone to denounce something because of their faith inherently bigoted? I think it is if we are talking about blanket expectations based on religion or ethnicity.
In an article, Vox news highlighted a conversation between Chuck Todd and the author of the book “Who Speaks for Islam,” Dalia Mogahed, about the issue of anti-Islamic sentiment in the U.S as well as the expectation that Muslim leaders speak out after terrorist events.
Her interview is worth watching because she has some interesting points about how anti-Islamic sentiment aligns with the presidential elections and lead-up to the Iraq war. But she also, rightfully so, says that no one would expect any other ethnicity to denounce something that is inherently abhorrent to human beings. It would just be understood that it is horrendous to all people.
Still, I do think credible voices can have a positive influence when their voices are amplified.
Dovetailing on that logic, British teen Kash Ali saw his tweet go viral when he wrote:
“I don’t understand why non muslims think we British Muslims can stop isis. Mate I can’t even get a text back from a girl I like and you expect me to stop a terrorist organization. Ffs.”
His tweet was retweeted by members of parliament, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King.
It’s a hilarious tweet. However, I also think it demonstrates both sides of the coin. On one hand, I do think it helped shed light on the subtle bigotry of expecting Muslims to fight the ideology of what most reasonable people would call a cult. On the flip side, his tweet also shows how social media in the hands of the public can work to reverse a flawed strategic narrative. So in conclusion, I think both are possibilities. Again, I think a lot depends on the receptiveness of the receiving parties.