Hate propaganda has been a feature of politics in India, Indonesia, and other Asian democracies long before the recent surge in interest in so-called “fake news” and intolerant populism in the West. This presentation dissects the political strategy of “hate spin,” which includes not only the use of hate speech or incitement, but also the creative manufacture of righteous indignation and popular mobilization framed as responses to victimhood. Examples include the “love jihad” conspiracy theory in India and blasphemy allegations in Indonesia, which have been used to devastating effect by religious nationalists. Existing religious-offense laws have backfired, while incitement laws, though necessary, are systemically incapable of dealing with hate propagandists’ highly sophisticated and distributed disinformation campaigns. The speaker's book on this topic, Hate Spin, will be available for sale at his talk.
Cherian George is a professor of media studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. He is the author of Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and its Threat to Democracy (2016), which was named on Publishers Weekly’s list of the 100 best books of 2016. Prof. George’s PhD is from Stanford University’s Department of Communication (2003). He was previously a journalist with The Straits Times in his native Singapore. His latest book on Singapore is the self-published Singapore, Incomplete: Reflections on a First World Nation’s Arrested Political Development (2017).