“Hate Spin” by Cherian George, a journalism professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, is now out in Bahasa Indonesia. Pusat Studi Agama dan Demokrasi (PUSAD) Yayasan Wakaf Paramadina and Institute of International Studies (IIS) Department of International Relations Universitas Gadjah Mada translated it with a title “Pelintiran Kebencian: Rekayasa Ketersinggungan Agama dan Ancamannya bagi Demokrasi”. The book launching and discussion were conducted in Thursday, 21 December 2017 at Convention Hall, 4th Floor, FISIPOL UGM.
There were three main speakers for the event, each of them holds specialty in the fields of democracy, interfaith dialogue, and journalism. The panels were Irsyad Rafsadi (Editor, Researcher at PUSAD Paramadina), Zainal Abidin Bagir (Head of CRCS UGM), and Widiarsi Agustina (Managing Editor of TEMPO), the discussion was moderated by Ayu Diasti Rahmawati (Manager of IIS UGM), who is also a lecturer at DIHI UGM. Not only was the event opened for public, but it also invited multidisciplinary groups namely interfaith communities, mass media, NGO, and educational institutions within the Yogyakarta region.
In this book, Cherian George as an academic in communication studies offers a new terminology. Hate spin or “pelintiran kebencian” in Bahasa Indonesia is chosen to explain a strategy combining hate speech (incitement to vilification) with manufactured indignation. Intolerance, offense-taking, dan communal outrage mostly involve organized campaign from political opportunists in order to mobilize supporters and to discriminate oppositions. This campaign is very well-planned by right-wing networks, using hate-speech and religious offense-taking as political identity instruments.
George also elaborates his finding that hatemonger groups tend to exploit democratic space for promoting agenda that is undermining the democratic value itself. Thus, hate spin agents are usually found in diverse societies, like Indonesia. Having said that, George examines the three biggest democratic states. Intolerant groups in India’s right-wing Hindu, US’s right-wing Christian, and Indonesia’s right-wing Moslem, are found to be a hate-spin perpetrators. The book was launched in the verge of Indonesia’s general elections, when elections at the regional level and presidential are conducted in the next two consecutive years.
“This book is based on the author’s anxiety in the rising religious contentious politics which he calls ‘hate spin’ towards democracy. Democracy is threatened when vulnerable groups are at risk because of intimidation and discrimination, as the so-called unwanted voice of theirs is silenced by the majority. George closes his book with an invitation to all to be more persistent in encouraging all citizen’s equality and to be not presumptuous when deciding whether one speech is worth the legal restriction. This book warns us to repel hate spin and reveal political actors’ interests behind their rhetoric,” said Irsyad Rafsadi from PUSAD Paramadina, who also edited the translated version of the book.
The book launching and discussion was also conducted in Jakarta simultaneously. With the same discussion format, the Jakarta event was attended by Endy M. Bayuni (Editor in Chief The Jakarta Post), Alissa Wahid (Head of Gusdurian Networks), and Ihsan Ali-Fauzi (Director of PUSAD Paramadina). Discussing this book is important as the author provides us with an antidote to hate spin outbreak. In order for our democracy to sustain, we need to discover what is gnawing at its body. Then, search for a cure to heal.
Zainil Abidin Bagir, Head of CRCS UGM closed, “George comes with the appropriate terminology, “pelintiran kebencian” or hate spin, to explain such a sophisticated religious politicization. The phenomenon is found in very different countries (India, US, and Indonesia), making this very concept stronger and more effective.” [AN]