Thursday, January 15, 2009

Responding to Congressman Diaz-Balart's Bigotry

I want to say a few words about how to respond to the Congressman Diaz-Balart incident (and any similar future incident).

As I mentioned in my last post, after attending the "Divine Performing Arts" show, Diaz-Balart said:

“I was very moved by the song that talked about the damage that atheism has caused and is causing. It was very moving, but all of the performances were moving, uplifting; they teach us about the eternal nature of mankind and of how we have to be humble.

In that post I provided a link to media in Miami, the media center closest to Diaz-Balart’s district.

So, Step 1, create a radio advertisement and some money, and purchase time for the advertisement on Miami radio stations.

Let’s start the advertisement with something that would catch peoples’ attention.

Voice 1: "I was very moved by the song that talked about the damage that the Jews have caused and is causing."

Voice 2: If a politician were to make this type of statement, we would recognize immediately that he was unfit to hold any public office. Public office is not the proper place for such blatant bigotry. It is the duty of all morally decent people to keep the power to make laws away from bigots such as this.

This is no less true when a politician targets some other group with unfounded, general hatred, as Representative Diaz-Balart did after attending a performance of the Divine Performing Arts.

Afterward, he said, "I was very moved by the song that talked about the damage that atheism has caused and is causing."

Many decent, law-abiding patriotic Americans happen to be atheists. They have a right to the equal respect and consideration of their political leaders. Religious bigots have no place in public office.

This is just a suggestion. In general, I argue for consulting with marketing experts in such a project. However, you do what you can with the resources you have available.

At the same time, send out a fundraiser to collect money for the advertising campaign. Contact the head of any atheist or free-thought organization. Have them communicate with their members.

Also, include organizations that are not specifically geared towards atheism, but have taken a position against bigotry in all forms – religious, racial, gender, and the like. As long as you allow bigotry to go unchallenged, you leave people the option of asking themselves, "Why can't I do to your group what you allow people to do to atheists?"

At the same time, somebody should create a short YouTube video reporting this incident and start circulating it as widely as possible. Because this statement was made by a Republican, see if one can get the video written about and linked to in media such as Crooks and Liars and Democratic Underground.

Contact other bloggers . . . regardless of the size of their audience . . . and see if they will include mention of the incident and embed the video.

The advertising campaign should come with some publicity. The advertising campaign buys a small advertisement somewhere deep inside the paper. However, the article about the advertisement shows up in the front page of the Politics section of the newspaper, on television, and in other media.

Look at the way the London bus campaign has reached an audience that is several orders of magnitude larger than those who actually see busses on the London street through media coverage of the advertisement.

Use this incident to create a fund for the next campaign – to use to target the next politician or business who decides to express this type of advertisement. Use this incident to establish the network, so that the next time the campaign moves farther, faster, and more efficiently.

When politicians and businesses can expect an immediate and harsh response to such statements of bigotry, they should learn to think twice about using hate to market their product or themselves.

That would be a step in the right direction.

1 comment:

Steelman said...

"That would be a step in the right direction."

Indeed, it would. Good idea, Alonzo.

This atheist (and many others, I would imagine) don't want religion removed from the public square; an accusation often leveled by conservative talking heads. We want it right out in the open where it can be discussed, along with opposing views, of course.