Civility Week Talk Explored How Media Can Be Used To Spread Hate

Throughout history the media has been used for good and evil. One of the most evil ways of using it is to spread hate through it, said Sara E. Brown, executive director of Chhange in her Civility Week presentation on Oct. 19, Radio For Hate, Radio For Peace.

In Rwanda in 1994, armed Hutu milias killed more than 800,000 members of the Tutsi ethnic minority group over a period of about 100 days.

“It is said if you want to keep a secret from a Rwandan, put it in print. But if you want everyone in Rwanda to know, put it on the radio,” Brown said. At the time of the genocide, Rwanda’s literacy rate was about 60 percent.  “The radio took on this authoritative role to the people.”

When something was said on the radio, people listened, she said. When the radio told everyone the Tutsis were cockroaches and snakes, they listened.

“The media was used as a tool for hatred,” Brown said.

RTLM was a Rwandan radio station that spread anti-Tutsi propaganda throughout the genocide. Not only did they just spread hate through talking on their radio but also through songs. Specifically Simon Bikindi songs were riddled with subtle hatred toward the Tutsi, Brown said.

Soldiers would sing Bikindi’s songs while carrying out atrocities against the Tutsi people, she said.

Though Brown does many events in the name of Rwandan genocide awareness this one was more focused on media throughout. Her purpose in this was showing how media had effectively inspired a genocide and how it could happen again. She gave a contemporary example of how neo-Nazi groups target young boys through the media to teach them to hate while they are young.