idiotic anti-Muslim video allegedly made by a "Coptic Christian" from Egypt. I hope I never do see it. I do not want to see it.
That video was also allegedly the spark for a serious (and expensive) confrontation between protestors and the police in Sydney yesterday. I doubt all the protestors had seen the video. They would merely have been "told about it". They would believe what they were told. That is dangerous, very dangerous.
I once heard an otherwise highly intelligent man from another religious group ask, "Why do you hate us?" At the time he was surrounded by a group of people who had invited him into their group in a genuine act of friendship. They were stunned and embarrassed. He was equally genuinely unable to understand he was welcome among them. All his life he had been told "you all hate us". It was not, and is not, true but it was what he had been "told".
Last year my sister and her family had an Australian of Fijian Indian heritage staying with them for most of the year. He happens to be a friend of my youngest nephew. As far as all of us were concerned he just became part of the family but another person asked me quietly, "Isn't it a bid odd?" Odd? He was waiting for enough work to be done on the house he had bought for it to be safe to move in. My sister and her family wanted to be sure he was safe but the person who questioned me had been "told" that you do not invite someone from another culture or background to live with you.
And then there is the alleged "incident" which has just surfaced in a piece by David Marr. It makes unsubstantiated claims about the leader of the Opposition during his time as a student back in the seventies. These claim has never been made before - and it would surely have been made in the student newspaper of the day. There is no evidence to back it up but it is getting widespread media coverage. Like the anti-Muslim video it is simply designed to do harm not good because people will simply believe what they are "told".
The allegation against the Opposition Leader is, in part, "pay-back" for some questions which were raised about the past conduct of the Prime Minister. As the unpopular-with-the-public leader of a minority government she is vulnerable. There was some old paperwork which gave rise to the allegations made against her. What cannot be proven is what she knew or thought at the time or whether her resignation was a personal choice or a choice made for her. People will still believe what they are "told", in this case influenced by the way they tend to vote.
Deliberately causing offence in order to stir up trouble is not new. Those who do it know all too well that far too many people will simply believe what they are "told".