Tom Friedman says the State Department should produce an annual War of Ideas Report that would put the harsh glare of attention on those who use their words to incite terrorism, those who make excuses for terrorism, and those who bravely oppose it.
A fine idea. But I don’t think the State Department is who should do this.
Bloggers should. News organizations should follow. And I’d be delighted to see religious leaders join in.
This seems like a fine project for Global Voices or such a group.
Why not create the Digg of terrorism: We all get to nominate examples in each of Friedman’s categories and we all get to vote them up to the home page.
We all link to the worst of the worst to turn the spotlight on it.
Those who can volunteer to translate the offending material.
We convince news organizations to get RSS feeds of terrorism Diggs and report on those who are inciting and supporting the terrorists.
We pepper those associated with these inciters and excusers — their governments, their religious leaders, their media outlets — with protests: The whole world is watching.
The point is not to stop the speech. The point is to expose the speakers. And why rely on a government body, especially the U.S. State Department, to do this. Rely instead on the civilized citizens of the world.
Why, it even comes with cute slogans suitable for T-shirts: Digg out terrorism! Digg terrorism a grave! Digg dirt!
: Friedman preaches a wonderful sermon in that column:
Sunlight is more important than you think. Those who spread hate do not like to be exposed, noted Yigal Carmon, the founder of Memri, which monitors the Arab-Muslim media. The hate spreaders assume that they are talking only to their own, in their own language, and can get away with murder. When their words are spotlighted, they often feel pressure to retract, defend or explain them.
“Whenever they are exposed, they react the next day,” Mr. Carmon said. “No one wants to be exposed in the West as a preacher of hate.”
We also need to spotlight the “excuse makers,” the former State Department spokesman James Rubin said. After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed….
Finally, we also need to shine a bright light on the “truth tellers.” Every week some courageous Arab or Muslim intellectual, cleric or columnist publishes an essay in his or her media calling on fellow Muslims to deal with the cancer in their midst. The truth tellers’ words also need to be disseminated globally.