You probably saw this all over Facebook on Sunday.
The problem: it is not TRUE!
UniteWomen.org's posted the above picture on Facebook Sunday with the comment "Please share with pride!"and before you could say "interweb" it was "shared" over 3,500 times and "liked" over 20,000 times. There's a big problem because it is not true! She did not make the 2012 Olympic Fencing Team. What is true was that she was the first openly Muslim woman to represent the US team in international competition. Now, what is interesting here: why did UniteWomen.org feel the need to exercise one the greatest pieces of successful propaganda on Facebook, and exponentially, the world wide web?
The organization put up a retraction of sorts on their Facebook page:
"We posted earlier that Ibtihaj Muhammad was the first Muslim woman to represent the United States at the olympics. She did not make the olympic team. We should all be proud of women attempting to break barriers. We are sorry for the incorrect information and thank those who brought the error to our attention.
We would like to take this opportunity though to point out that we are about uniting women. While many of us may not agree on everything, the vitriol and hate demonstrated in some of the posts will not be tolerated."
So, we are to believe that no one working for UniteWomen is able to conduct the simplest of searches? I don't believe that at all! Let's now look at the propaganda and how it relates to the original posting (which has not been taken down as of this time, by the way) and the retraction by UniteWomen.
This was a perfect use of emotional manipulation. Looking at the photo and believing it to be true allowed some of those on the left to expose their prejudices by posting comments such as, "Well, I bet the Neo-Cons are in a twist about that" and some of those on the right with postings such as, "Why is she wearing that stupid scarf?"
Look at the photo and the accompanying comment. The comment, "Please share with pride", goes beyond the emotional manipulation by inserting everyone's favorite: nationalistic pride. Then another step because of the good feeling one gets inside by not only "liking" but also "sharing" as well, regardless of where one is at along the political spectrum. In the upper right corner appears the phrase, "Like if you're proud of Ibtihaj Muhammad." That is absolutely perfect! It works whether you believed the Olympic statement or not! Because, of course, you're an American and you are damn proud of the athletes, regardless of the fact UniteWomen just lied to you!
The main statement of the photo, "The first Muslim woman to represent USA at the Olympics!", continues the propaganda with the use of the big lie. For unlike the use of the words "incorrect information" in the organization's retraction, it is a big lie. In this case, the big lie led to more division among the people, which is exactly what UniteWomen, in it's retraction, said it did not want! It also allowed the organization to cover their lie with the cloak of self-righteousness by claiming, "the vitriol and hate demonstrated in some of the posts will not be tolerated."
The division continued after the fact of the discovery of the "error" because most people on both the left and right, when confronted with the emotional manipulation which they had endured, either chose to seek some control by continuing the with "we should be proud of her" mantra or by ignoring the whole thing entirely.
We cannot continue to allow ourselves, and our friends, to be manipulated like this by any organization whether it be political or social. We must speak out against such manipulation regardless of origin or the continued divisions we are permitting ourselves to be distracted by, will in the end, destroy us, our rights and our country.