Masters of Hate — The Conservative Disinformation Campaign
Conservatives love to hate President Obama.
They’re willing to resort to any means necessary to defeat the incumbent President.
They will lie. They will cheat. They will steal. And, then when that’s not enough to produce a voting majority, they’ll lie even more.
Consider the wacko disinformation campaign that’s been blasted from one inbox to another over the Internet ever since the name “Barack Obama” surfaced as a serious Presidential candidate, some five years ago. Since then, we’ve witnessed a toxic assembly line of lies almost always consisting of fabricated junk meant to create confusion and hatred for the President — about his intentions, about his character, even about his patriotism and nationality. I suspect that most of you reading today’s column have received these same emails occasionally, which are essentially nothing more than political garbage.
Invariably, they are easily debunked as completely false. Most of the time, a ten-second Google search reveals most of this stuff is quite simply made up. Yet, just as it’s difficult to scrub the ring out of a toilet bowl, the filthy concoction of lies continues to get passed from one scared little person to another, circling around in the right wing’s sewer pipes, pumped from one fanatic to the next.
Every week, I receive about a dozen of these kinds of emails. That’s right, about two per day. They always start out the same way. Some supposedly patriotic American (often fictional) is royally pissed off at President Obama — usually for something he never actually did or said. The “patriot” makes up some lie about the President and then throws a temper tantrum designed to flea bite other right-wingers into a frenzy. Then, the email concludes with the sender begging the reader to send the same email on to more Americans so the “real truth” can be known.
Problem is, when anyone actually fact checks this rubbish (and I have, numerous times) — it’s just about always completely false. It’s often made up. It’s not just a few speeches taken way out context. It’s sometimes spoof material taken from TV comedy shows and then attribued to the President as something he actually said. If I had the time or bandwidth, I could list more than 100 e-mails received during this election cycle proporting to list many horrible things the President has done. Yet, virtually none of it is true.
Here’s just a small sample of the irreverent topics that have arrived in my inbox over the last several months:
1. President Obama wants to change the national anthem to “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.” CLICK HERE
2. President Obama refuses to wear an American flag pin on his lapel. CLICK HERE
3. President Obama’s political campaign is being financed by Hugo Chavez (Venezuala). CLICK HERE
4. Barack Obama received financial aid, allegedly as a college student from Indonesia (a falsehood created to cast doubts on his nationality). CLICK HERE
5. Barack and Michelle Obama surrendered their licenses to practice law due to some secret misdeed. CLICK HERE
6. Barack has the phrase “there is no god but Allah” enscribed on his wedding ring. CLICK HERE
7. Barack Obama is a practicing Muslim. CLICK HERE
8. President Obama refuses to place his hand over his heart when the U.S. National Anthem is played. CLICK HERE
9. The Obamas are elitists who are typically rude to subordinates and treat themselves lavishly. CLICK HERE
10. Barack Obama did not attend Columbia University. CLICK HERE
11. President Obama disrespects veterans (there are dozens of these variants). CLICK HERE
12. President Obama is the anti-Christ (as described in the Book of Revelation). CLICK HERE
Sadly, this is just a partial list, an infantesimal tip of the iceberg of hoaxes by self-described conservatives.
Many people — good and decent people — simply chose to ignore ths stuff. Perhaps they think these types of things do no harm. They accept this rubbish as just being part of the political process every few years. Well, I refuse to join that crowd of accceptance. I refuse to turn the other cheek and ignore vitriol. And neither should you.
It’s time to call these jokers out for who they are — liars and instigators of hate. They are anything but the true “patriots” they so rightously claim to be.
As proof, when I have e-mailed the senders of this outrageous bile in an effort to correct the disinformation, my pleas are ALWAYS ignored. Clearly, they would rather believe the lies than accept the notion that the virus they are spreading is blatantly false. So, the only thing that kills the infestation of lies is time. When any one of their many lies emailed to family and freinds finally runs out of steam — as it always does — they simply make up another. And another. I suspect it’s a grand design intended to stir up the base by appealing to the ugliest nature of these gullible people, who can so easily be motivated to hate. It’s the same ugliness we have seen at other periods in our history, which some may believe is behind us. Indeed, these ghosts of the past are still very much alive rearing their ugliness at every opportunity.
And don’t say that both sides do this, because they don’t. I know. I have hundreds of liberal freinds that I correspond with (and conservatives too, for that matter). I’m connected to numerous leftist and progressive circles of different people — all with a gambit of ideas about our society and how it should work. Yet in all my years parsing through emails within these discussion groups, I don’t recall EVER receiving this kind of junk mail penned by the left when it came to President Bush or the Republicans. NOT ONCE.
Let me make it clear — I’m hardly afraid of reading alternative points of view. In fact, I welcome all ideas. I’ve even gone so far as to write directly to some of these same sources of disinformation. I begged them to place me on mailing lists of material that is actually fact-based criticism of President Obama (and liberals, progressives, et. al.). But I rarely get any reasonable links in return, say the kind of thing that might be written by a George Will, the Wall Street Journal, or another legitimate conservative source of criticism.
Moreover, I actually welcome hearing different points of view. When someone has written to me — as has happened many times — explaining why they oppose President Obama or leftist policies (which are not one and the same), I’m eager to read and hear these voices. Occasionally, I get some very thought-provoking feedback. I’ve even been compelled to change my mind on some things when the evidence was overwhelming.
But engaing in political dialogue with people I may disagree with but respect is something completely different from plowing through the pollution of lies and disinformation which are clearly intended to destroy constructive debate within our society. By villifying someone you disagree with, as the right has done with President Obama, they block out all potential for dialogue. Perhaps that’s what some on the right are afraid of. Since they can’t win arguments with simple logic, they must now resort to name-calling, fear-mongering, and even race baiting.
Indeed, at times I’ve gone so far as to respond to the entire e-mail distribution list when I read this garbage. I’ve put up direct links to websites which demonstratively prove the posts are false. Never once — I repeat NEVER ONCE — I have seen a correction issued, an apology made, or some kind of responsibility taken. Isn’t that odd? And to think that the proud members of the politcal right are usually the ones so insistent upon taking “personal responsibility” In reality, they would much rather believe their own lies. It’s a cozy comfort zone, a sort of looney bin where all the malcontents can gather amongst themselves bitching about the world, much like a sad row of losers who camp themselves each night on barstools at the local pub.
Alas, engaging in politics can and should be fun. Politics can and should be interesting. Politics can and should be something that attracts us and brings out the best in all of us, even when we may disagree. Many of the fondest moments of my life were times when I was surrounded by people with many different ideas and we were able to talk, to listen, and to learn.
I think most people prefer it that way. They’d like to engage in honest debate and dialogue if they had the opportunity. But instead, their inboxes are infused with a sort of cyanide to the entire notion of honest deliberation.
Instead, lies destroy us. They destroy us all. After all the lies have been exhausted, after all the fabrications have been disproven, and even after all the myths have been exposed, we are all still tainted for having been subject to such unnecessary ugliness.