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When Trump's hate tweets make news, here’s what to do

Media Uncovered  |  By Carly Goodman, Nov 29, 2017

1. Don’t retweet him.

Recently, Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos posted by a hate group. It was so outrageous that media picked it up as a story, and many people were upset, correctly noting that the president’s posts perpetuated Islamophobia and could feed violence and hatred against Muslim people. But the problem is that by reposting the president’s tweets, the media and social media only amplified their messages, bringing the images into millions of people’s feeds.

Retweeting or Facebook-sharing a harmful post only highlights it, making it more likely to stick in people’s minds, which can seriously hurt vulnerable communities. Don’t retweet or reply-tweet harmful content.

2. Tell the truth instead, and if you have to mention the tweet, identify its purpose.

Trump’s tweets are dangerous, but so are his administration’s Islamophobic policies, including the Muslim ban and other policies that target Muslim people in the United States and abroad. If you want to weigh in when the president's tweets are breaking news, be sure to focus on the people who are affected by these policies as well as by the president’s endorsement of racist memes. 

3. Uplift the voices we should listen to instead.

Part of challenging Islamophobia is building empathy and connections between members of our communities. Unfortunately, the media tends to present stories about Muslim people in one-dimensional and stereotypical ways, focusing on either extremism or victimhood. That’s one reason why Trump’s tweets are so dangerous: They build on existing stereotypes and the paucity of complex representations of Muslim people in the media.

Follow Muslim artists, writers, activists, and thinkers online, share their work, and center Muslim people’s voices in the stories you share online. To get started, check out the Muslim Justice League, MPower Change, Young Muslim Collective, and the Arab American Action Network

4. Address racist comments in your own networks.

While the president's tweets always garner a lot of attention, he's not alone in perpetuating Islamophobic images and ideas. When someone in your network posts something racist or Islamophobic, here are some ideas for how to respond: 

  • Instead of arguing, ask questions. Try to move the person to consider their entrenched ideas by listening.
  • Take the conversation offline – it might be time to ask your friend or family member to coffee to talk face to face.
  • Post a fresh comment instead of replying to a negative one. Getting into a back and forth argument with a stranger might not be worth your time. But you can make sure a negative comment doesn’t stand unchallenged.
  • Finally if someone is posting hate speech, it might be time to block them. 

About the Author

Carly Goodman is a historian and the Communications Analyst and Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow at AFSC.