Ayman al-Zawahiri’s racial epithet

MountainRunner friend Spencer Ackerman nails it on Zawahiri’s use of "House Negro" in Al-Qaeda’s latest propaganda:

With an American president as loathed as George W. Bush around the world, it’s easy for Al Qaeda to portray the U.S. as venal and stupid and brutish as he’s proven. Obama complicates the narrative significantly: the very color of his skin, precisely what Al Qaeda mocks, symbolizes America’s willingness to change. That’s exactly what Al Qaeda fears most. …

Still, as Ilan Goldenberg notes at Democracy Arsenal, "Al Qaeda’s narrative is now under siege and it’s clearly uncertain about how to react." That sort of disruption is precisely what the U.S. needs to rapidly exploit. In both policy and public-diplomacy terms, the clay is still wet. Why haven’t we seen the State Dept.’s blog hit the Zawahiri "House Negro" tape yet?

I have all the respect for the DipNote staff, and America.gov for that matter, but they just don’t have the agility or flexibility to respond to this message. Of course the argument could be made that a response highlights the attack. But in this case, as with most, we know the message is being received and a reply like Spencer’s strikes at AQ’s vulnerability. AQ is losing the struggle for minds and wills and this very message highlights that they will grasp at anything to attempt to regain control of the narrative.

DipNote and America.gov should be one of the many platforms used to post accessible responses. Reposting the above is out of the question, but at a minimum a short response echoing or linking to Spencer is better than silence and would get traction. I can think of several @state.gov people that could bang out a credible response.

State’s foreign media hubs are one thing, but what about online? I’ll wager Defense has already started to respond to this the Zawahiri message on the Internet. State needs to respond both to U.S. audiences (ostensibly DipNote’s mission) and abroad (America.gov’s mission). Seriously, even China is implementing an agile response capability.

I don’t think we’ll see anything from DipNote or America.gov on this. It would be great to be wrong. Prove me wrong.

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2 thoughts on “Ayman al-Zawahiri’s racial epithet

  1. yes, thanks for the catch. On some level, it may be an epithet as well. The title of the post has been fixed.

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