Just about everyone wants to see world peace. But the idea that the bad guys are just going to lay down their weapons has long been a powerful source of ridicule.
In a post dated May 24, 2017, but which seemed to gain steam on social media in early September, the website Babylon Bee said that the terrorist group variously known as ISIS or the Islamic State had given up its fight just because American singer Katy Perry had called for co-existence in an interview.
In an article headlined, "ISIS Lays Down Arms After Katy Perry’s Impassioned Plea To ‘Like, Just Co-Exist,’" the website wrote, "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, released a statement Wednesday confirming that ISIS would be immediately surrendering its fight to establish a powerful caliphate after viewing an interview in which pop singer Katy Perry said, ‘The greatest thing we can do is just unite and love on each other and like, no barriers, no borders, like, we all need to just co-exist.’ "
The article raised red flags at Facebook, and we’re fact-checking it here as part of Facebook’s efforts to fight fake news.
It’s not so obvious on the page showing the ISIS-Katy Perry article, but the Babylon Bee is a satire site. At the bottom of its home page, there’s a line that reads: "The Babylon Bee is Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire."
A glance through other headlines on the site does confirm that the site runs fairly obvious satirical articles that often have religious themes. For instance, the site ran one article about Texas-based megachurch pastor Joel Osteen headlined, "Lakewood Church Issues Eclipse Glasses For Gazing At Joel Osteen’s Teeth." Another article was headlined, "Heaven Department Of Tourism Advises 2018 Round-Trip Tickets Selling Out Fast"
So the Babylon Bee is more openly satirical than some other examples we’ve been forwarded by Facebook, but we’ll still confirm for the record that ISIS did not, after all, stop fighting for an Islamic caliphate just because Katy Perry suggested it.
The genesis of the joke, as Snopes.com has noted, comes from comments Perry made on the Elvis Duran Morning Show on May 23, 2017, one day after a suicide bombing inspired by ISIS killed 22 people at the Manchester Arena in England during a concert by pop star Ariana Grande.
In the interview, Perry said: "I think the greatest thing that we can do now is just unite as people, as fan bases, all of it, you know? Whatever we say behind people’s backs – because the Internet can be a little bit ruthless as far as fan bases go – but I think that the greatest thing we can do is just unite and love on each other. And no barriers, no borders – we all need to just co-exist."
(Footnote: Perry later performed with Grande at a benefit concert for the Manchester victims.)
Some conservative commentators on social media mocked Perry’s remarks as geopolitically naive, though they often did so without noting that Perry had been seeking to promote unity and respect between the fans of different singers, not trying to ideologically reconcile extreme Islamism with advanced democracy.
For instance, a Fox & Friends tweet touted commentator Michelle Malkin’s remark that Perry's call for "no barriers, no borders" typifies the "liberal mindset of celebs who don't operate in reality."
Perry responded to Malkin through a pair of tweets. "@michellemalkin The media has edited my words out of context, I was talking about online fan culture and how we must unite now. ... Maybe didn't say it perfectly but, I don't always get it right. Would love to speak with you in the future."
Either way, the story in the Babylon Bee reflects pretty obvious satire, not reality. For anyone who failed to catch the snark the first time around or saw the headline out of context, we rate it Pants on Fire.