State Department Uses Facebook to Fight ‘Against Hate’ and ‘Stop Bigotry’

November 22, 2011 - 8:55 PM


pardith, hate

Farah Pardith, special representative to Muslim communities for the U.S. Department of State, said on Nov. 22, 2011 that she wants to recruit youth around the world to stop hate. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr).

(CNSNews.com) – Two State Department officials are promoting a Facebook page, “2011 Hours Against Hate,” as a tool to help young people around the world “push back against hatred.”

Speaking at an event in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Farah Pardith, a special representative to Muslim communities, said getting young people involved requires “using tools that are going to work for this generation.”

Hannah Rosenthal, special envoy and head of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, said young people are “a little more action oriented” and want guidance for fighting hate.

“So we wanted to do something that wasn’t brought to you by the U.S. State Department; we didn’t want to do anything that said, ‘This is what you must do,’” Pardith said, “but really give you a – just sort of catalyze a vision.”

“And that is, to push back against hatred, to amplify the importance of mutual respect,” Pardith said.

“We didn’t ask for permission,” Rosenthal said of the “2011 Hours Against Hate” Facebook page that was launched in February. “We just did it.”

The information portion of the Facebook page states: “2011 Hours Against Hate is a campaign to stop bigotry and promote pluralism and respect across lines of culture, religion, tradition, class, and gender. We are asking people around the world to pledge their time to stop hate—to do something for someone who doesn’t look like you, pray like you, or live like you.”

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Hannah Rosenthal, special envoy and head of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism for the U.S. Department of State, spoke on Nov. 22, 2011 at the Rumi Forum in Washington, D.C. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

The Facebook page asks visitors to sign a pledge to document how many hours they will volunteer “to stop hate” and to describe their volunteer activity.

A separate pledge is available for the media, where publishers can sign (by e-mail) a pledge that states: "Because of the influence of the media I publish, I will choose my words to facilitate an inclusive world where differences are respected."

In a video on the Facebook page, Pardith and Rosenthal explain the campaign by saying “anti-Semitism, prejudice, racism, Muslim hatred, sexism” are “all words for hate.”

“Hate is hate, no matter who the target is,” Pardith says in the video.

A video of Secretary Hillary Clinton speaking about the campaign is also on the Facebook page and links to the State Department Web site are included.

The page also features videos promoting the acceptance of homosexuality, such as “An Honest Conversation,” which is about Latino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. “We hope to open minds and educate the community to break the taboo!” reads the video description.

The women spoke at a discussion at the Rumi Forum, described on its Web site as an organization with a mission “to promote peace in the world and contribute to a peaceful coexistence of the adherents of different faiths, cultures, ethnicities and races.”