Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and Its Threat to Democracy

Document Type

Book Review


Graduate School of Media and Communications


Description: Much of this upheaval can be traced back to the media. The common misperception is that the ‘Global Village’ envisioned by Marshall McLuhan (McLuhan and Powers, 1989) was a utopian place where the industrialized North and the global South would be joined in a shared worldview forged through modern communication technologies (‘Global Village’). In fact, the Canadian futurist saw electronic media creating not a shared worldview, but rather a ‘retribalization’ that would transform ‘the family of man into a new state of multitudinous tribal existences’, a situation that would sever ancient loyalties and was ‘far more likely’ to produce ‘conflict and discord’ than ‘uniformity and tranquility’ (Norden, 1969). As McLuhan (1977) told a Canadian television interviewer, ‘The global village is a place of very arduous interfaces and very abrasive situations’.

Scrolling through social media feeds half a century later, it is evident that ‘conflict and discord’ and ‘very abrasive situations’ have become the norm. Around the world, the societal narrative has been hijacked by extremists of warring digitally mediated tribes. Electronic media is their weapon of choice. WhatsApp messages in India have sparked mob violence and lynchings (Frayer, 2018). A bogus anti-refugee YouTube video that went viral in Europe has fanned xenophobia (Funke and Mantzarlis, 2018). In the Middle East, mainstream and social media have been weaponized in a virtual confrontation that has split the Arab world (Pinnell, 2018).


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


European Journal of Communication