Yes; misinformation works. Places like Fox News excel at it. Nutjobs like Pam Geller and her ilk have been very successful at promoting fear of anything associated with Islam. They achieve this by simply lying, and playing into the xenophobia already present in many members of the far-right-wing.
I follow someone on Twitter named Joe Cienkowski. I’ve given Joe a lot of grief over his lack of understanding when it comes to basic concepts of science, etc., in the past. I still like the guy, though. I really do think that Joe means well. Unfortunately, his gullibility for anything that hypes his existing fears and religious beliefs makes him horribly misinformed about reality.
When misinformation becomes the basis of some people’s mind-set, it can be very dangerous. If you don’t think that’s a problem, perhaps you should check out the Randolph Linn case.
An Indiana man who pleaded guilty yesterday to setting an Ohio mosque on fire told a judge he was motivated by media accounts – specifically those on Fox News – suggesting Muslims were threatening Americans and were in control of parts of the federal government. —Morlin, Bill. “Mosque Arsonist: Fox News Made Me Do It!” Salon. Salon Media Group, Inc., 22 Dec. 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. <http://www.salon.com/2012/12/22/mosque_arsonist_fox_news_made_me_do_it/>.
That’s why it bothers me when I see things like this posted on Twitter:
The rest of our brief exchange on this subject went as I expected it to.
Misinformation is making a segment of our population dangerously afraid of anyone who happens to be Muslim or who appears (to them) to be of Middle Eastern descent. The blatant sources of misinformation are easy enough to identify, but not easy to counter. When lies are profitable, and protected speech, what more can we do than continue to point it out?