The Weird Wide Web: ISIS Supporters Tweet About Robin Williams' Death
Behold, ye mighty, but don't despair. The Internet is weird and wonderful place where you can see things once unimaginable (and, no, I'm not talking about 4chan, you sickos). As you almost certainly know by now, legendary comedian Robin Williams died on Monday, likely having committed suicide.
By Tuesday, everybody found an angle to capitalize on, from suicide awareness to indignation about the media not respecting Williams' privacy to critiques of celebrity worship. In the other corner, we have supporters of the militant jihadist group ISIS, also known as "the Islamic State," commenting. Many of them are glad that Williams is dead, citing some jokes he made 12 years ago about jihad. But, check this out (below right).
Do you see that? It's a crack in the throat-slitting, black-flag-waving façade. To be sure, Abdullah, a.k.a. "@mujahid4life," is a "19-year-old British-born fighter" and "ISIS supporter" and he's serious about it. He's anti-democracy, pro-theocracy. He's got no time for "humanitarian international law" because in his mind, sharia law is number one. So, there's not much anyone from the West, a.k.a. the Great Satan, would normally have in common with this kid.
But right now he's bummed about the death of an American actor just as so many Americans are, and it became a channel for non-ideological, civilly-conducted, cultural dialogue. Instead of falling back on the war-ready rhetoric of his leaders or the United States', individuals communicated directly, asking him what other movies he likes.
The attention seems to have made Abdullah a bit giddy. He later tweeted:
They think i grew up somewhere in a mud hut so i never saw a movie whereas i've seen most of the flicks they ask. lol.
Now I'm actually worried that people will start to follow me because they wanna hear about my favorite movies instead of reporting jihad.
The world would much rather hear about your favorite movies, Abdullah.
These Twitter talks won't stop wars, but they could help individuals pause, recall that the fighters on both sides of wars are young people who grew up laughing at the same films, and catch a glimpse of their humanity. It's hard to hate people up close. We'll never agree on a lot of things, and we don't have to try living together in kumbaya b.s., but if we really want to win the hearts and minds of our enemies, maybe we should drop copies of Mad magazine or DVDs of Disney movies instead of bombs.
Oh, and cheers to the radicals for publicly whining about Williams' anti-politically correct standup, thereby introducing it to a whole new generation of viewers.