Tuesday, March 2, 2010

the internets

I found some evidence that the internet can indeed spread and ignite prejudice and even hate. The Christmas day underpants bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was recruited by Al Qaeda exclusively by the internet, according to ABC News. Prior to “training”, he had no actual person to person contact with Al Qaeda and learned the motives and techniques for terrorism only from internet communication. Through the internet, he learned the prejudices and hatred that motivated him to attempt to “train” in Yemen to blow up an airplane. This shows that the internet can be an extremely powerful tool in intensifying one’s beliefs. While he may have shared sentiments with Al Qaeda prior to connecting to them through the internet, he surely would have not had the funds or techniques without it. Al Qaeda used the internet to add to feelings he may have already had by indoctrinating him into their beliefs, teaching him why to hate others and how to act upon that hate. Another thing I found extremely interesting about this incident is it not only shows that prejudice is in fact spread through the internet, but also shows that government officials are actually concerned about the internet’s role in the spread of prejudice and hate. Up until recently, the internet has been a no-holds barred arena, where people spread offensive and prejudice ideals with impunity. Now that there has been a direct connection of the internet to terrorism and hate, government and intelligence officials are thinking seriously about the role of the internet in spreading hate and prejudice as an issue of national security. According to Dennis Blair in the aforementioned article; "Malicious cyber activity is occurring on an unprecedented scale with extraordinary sophistication." A revolutionary tool in communication, the internet also poses unique risks by facilitating a mass diffusion of hate and prejudice, and the Christmas day incident is a clear indication of the dangers that lie in new technology.

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