Five reasons why we must NOT censor ISIS propaganda [news]

Five reasons why we must NOT censor ISIS propaganda by Dr. Azeem Ibrahim.

From the post:

First of all, censoring ISIS in this way is simply not feasible. We can very well demand that mainstream newspapers and TV news stations limit their coverage of these issues, but that would leave the entire field of discussion to the unregulated areas of the internet, the “blogosphere” and social media. ISIS would still dominate in these areas, except now we will have removed from the discourse those outlets that would be most capable to hold the ISIS narrative to scrutiny.

All of Dr. Ibrahim’s points are well taken but the ability to “…hold the ISIS narrative to scrutiny” is the most telling one.

In holding the Islamic State narrative to scrutiny, the West will learn some of that narrative is true.

Simon Cottee writes in Why It’s So Hard to Stop ISIS Propaganda:


The more immediate, but no less intractable, challenge is to change the reality on the ground in Syria and Iraq, so that ISIS’s narrative of Sunni Muslim persecution at the hands of the Assad regime and Iranian-backed Shiite militias commands less resonance among Sunnis. One problem in countering that narrative is that some of it happens to be true: Sunni Muslims are being persecuted in Syria and Iraq. This blunt empirical fact, just as much as ISIS’s success on the battlefield, and the rhetorical amplification and global dissemination of that success via ISIS propaganda, helps explain why ISIS has been so effective in recruiting so many foreign fighters to its cause.

A first step towards scrutiny of all narratives in the conflict with the Islamic State would be to stop referring to reports and/or news from the Islamic State as “propaganda.” It isn’t any more or less propaganda than the numerous direct and indirect reports placed at the direction of the United States government.

Yet, even traditionally skeptical news organizations, such as the New York Times, repeats government reports of the danger the United States faces from the Islamic State without question.

At best, the Islamic State may have 35,000 fighters in Syria/Iraq. Should a nuke-armed hyper-power with a military budget equal to the next nine (9) biggest spenders, more than a third of all military spending, be fearful of this ragged band of fighters?

To read the serious tone with which the New York Times reports the hand wringing and posturing from both Washington and the presidential campaign trail, you would think so. Instead of analysis and well-deserved mockery of those fearful positions, the Times reports them as “news.”

Censoring the narratives of the Islamic State and failing to question those of the United States, deprives the public, including young people, of an opportunity to reach their own evaluation of those narratives.

Small wonder they are all so mis-informed.

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