I was just about to log on for an early morning conference when into the What’s App chat of the organising team came an odd message from one of the team.
There was a picture of Kamala Harris swearing her oath as the next vice president of the United States. She had her right hand raised and left hand on the Bible but there was also another zippered leather object on top of the Bible.
The text said: What the hell is this sh*t? The bottom book is the bible but what does she have her hand on there?
A second hysterical message in capitals read: PAYING ATTENTION? SATANIST DON’T (sic) TOUCH THE HOLY BIBLE, THAT’S WHY SHE PUT HER CLUTCH BAG ON TOP OF THE BIBLE. THESE PEOPLE ARE SICK RIGHT IN OUR FACES.
The message upset me – the language was toxic. I was just about to speak to a group of 120 women leaders, one of whom was willing to repost such a message.
If you take a look at the picture, the black zippered object looks like a pocket Bible, the type that zips up. Could it be her personal Bible that she wanted to swear on?
I began a quick search (as the meeting started) for other images of Kamala Harris taking the oath. Right away, I came across a photo from the opposite angle and sure enough, across the binding of the zippered object were the words, Holy Bible (take a look at the second picture).
The text accompanying that photo was all about what an historic day it was for a first generation migrant with Indian and Jamaican parents, to be taking the oath of office. Not only that, but she is the first female vice-president.
The messages calling Harris a Satanist could be dismissed as foolish or stupid. One more conspiracy theory.
But the fact that a respected and experienced leader half-way across the world was willing to post the message, as if it were true, saddened me greatly.
We have to speak out against patent untruths that besmirch character. I sent a quick message to my colleague at the conference pointing out that the rant was false and that Harris was holding her Bible.
This incident is minor, but every week on twitter I see colleagues and friends sent uninformed and hate-filled rants. And that is nothing compared to the hate unleashed by populist leaders like Donald Trump who encouraged conspiracy theorists.
My mother always taught me, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Which is what girls were always encouraged to do – stay quiet and sweet.
Which is OK sometimes, but I think I prefer, “If you can’t say something nice, then say something devastatingly clever.”
I want to combat untruth because otherwise the bad guys win with their lies and careless bitterness.
The trick is to say something wise and devastatingly clever, wrapped in a coating of witty chocolate.
Let me know how I’m doing so far.