“I used to think the lie was the worst” – President Kennedy said “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. Now we learn the greatest enemy are those with total disregard for the truth who introduce lies as a myth and spread them with utterly immoral self-serving disregard.”
Now it’s not just that 46 percent of Republicans believe the lie that Obama is a Muslim, or that 27 percent in the party doubt that the President of the United States is a citizen. But fully half of them believe falsely that the big bailout of banks and insurance companies under TARP was enacted by Obama, and not by President Bush.
A growing segment of the party poised to take control of Congress has bought into denial of the basic truths of Barack Obama’s life. What’s more, this astonishing level of willful ignorance has come about largely by design.
No surprise here who the myth growers are — the usual suspects. The first, of course, is Rush Limbaugh, who claims the largest radio audience in the land among the microphone demagogues, and his word is Biblical among Republicans. A few quick examples of the Limbaugh method:
“Tomorrow is Obama’s birthday — not that we’ve seen any proof of that,” he said on Aug. 3. “They tell us Aug. 4 is the birthday; we haven’t seen any proof of that.”
Of course, there is proof as clear as that baseball box score.
On the Muslim deception, “Obama says he’s a Christian, but where’s the evidence?” he said on Aug. 19. He has repeatedly called the president “imam Obama,” and said, “I’m just throwing things out there, folks, because people are questioning his Christianity.”
You see this works. Drop in suggestions, hints, notes that “people are questioning” things. The design is to make Obama un-American. Then he says it’s a tweak, a provocation. He says this as a preëmptive way to keep the press from calling him out. And it works.
Once the myth is planted, a prominent politician can pick it up, with little nuance.
It’s curious, also, that any felon, drug addict, 3 X married, or Ken Melman, a gay man who ran President Bush’s 2004 reelection designed to scare Americans about Gay people, can loudly proclaim a sudden embrace of Jesus and be welcomed without doubt by leaders of the religious right. But a thoughtful Christian like Obama is still distrusted.
“I am a devout Christian,” Obama told Christianity Today in 2008. “I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” That’s not enough, apparently, for Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of the great evangelical leader, who said that Obama was “born a Muslim because of the religious seed passed on from his father.” WTF
Mr. McCain is always touted the primacy of military leadership in knowing what’s best for all forces (remember the surge?). Yet now he believes soldiers on the ground should make policy about gay soldiers knowing full well that soldiers do not make policy. Let’s poll them and ask if they want to leave Iraq and Afghanistan. Would Mr. McCain abide by the results of that survey as well?
There is Fox News, which has gone after Michelle Obama, whose vacation in Spain was “just for her and about 40 of her friends.” Limbaugh had a similar line, saying the First Lady “is taking 40 of her best friends and leasing 60 rooms at a five-star hotel — paid for by you.” “200 million a day for ten days ” Glen Beck loudly pronounced.
The White House said Michelle Obama and her daughter Sasha were accompanied by just a few friends — and they paid their own costs. But, the damage is done. She’s living the life on your dime. They don’t even have to mention race. The code words do it for them. Later Fox News Glen Beck said “he never said it”
It would be nice to dismiss the stupid things that Americans believe as harmless, the price of having such a large, messy democracy. Plenty of hate-filled partisans swore that Abraham Lincoln was a Catholic and Franklin Roosevelt was a Jew. So what if one-in-five believe the sun revolves around the earth, or aren’t sure from which country the United States gained its independence?
It’s one thing to forget the past, with predictable consequences, as the favorite aphorism goes. But what about those who refuse to comprehend the present?
Compare the reaction to the Fort Hood and Holocaust Museum shootings. One was perpetrated by “a deranged person.” The other by an entire religion. The plane flown into the Texas IRS office versus the underwear bomber. Whenever alarming violence happens, a sizable percentage of Americans have a tendency to reshape its causes to fit their worldview.
When 32 Virginia Tech students were gunned down in a single morning by an American citizen wielding a pair of weapons he owned legally, the Second Amendment defenders rushed to point out their belief that if students were allowed to carry guns on a college campus April 16th would never have happened. This is, of course, ludicrous. But the gun enthusiasts fantasy is that when everyone has a gun no one will use them. Now the NRA in Texas is challenging the law that states you have to be 21 to carry a concealed weapon.
Likewise the xenophobic contention that Islam breeds violence. Imagine being a child in Baghdad as a Iraq mother told me while on patrol;who spoke perfect english, that when the American forces knocked out the lights and water and blackened the sky with smoke. “What must an child think when her school is closed and the teachers fired by the American occupiers”.
Did they see the fortifications around the Green Zone or the streams of hundreds of thousands of fleeing Iraqi refugees and think anything other than all Americans are devils? “You have a culture of violence,” she said. “It’s in the Old Testament.”
History will show that a lot of violence was done in the name of Christianity also. The Crusades, Europe’s Reformation and Counter Reformation Era, The Colonial Conquests. In the 20th century, Rwanda, 1994, and one that I attended and saw 1992-1995 Bosnia , where US Army Soldiers came in to stop the slaughter and ethnic cleansing of 300 thousand Muslims by Christian Serbs
No one protested Christian churches within two blocks of the Murrah Federal Building memorial in Oklahoma City. But there is no question that Timothy McVeigh and his companions were motivated by extremist religious fervor — and they were protesting the government’s attack on the Branch Davidian compound. How do I know this? I was in the same Army Unit in Fort Riley Kansas as Tim McVeigh and spoke with him. Although no one could have guessed it , the motivations of the Oklahoma terrorist were identical to those of the 9/11 terrorists.
Of course, ethnic and religious prejudice works both ways. There are plenty of Muslims over seas who regarded me — because I’m a Westerner — as a suspicious character who supports wars against Islam. Millions of Muslims I am sure saw me as the enemy just as millions of Americans see each Muslim as enemies. But millions more I am sure do not
Such prejudice is a product of ignorance. Our national shame is that in the richest country in the world , we are producing so many ignorant citizens.
How many people looked at the flyer on Glen Becks “Restoring Honor ” and didn’t see the fine print that said donations would be used to pay off expenses first and the rest would go toward the ‘TROOPS’.
This is from a man who made 35 million last yr and will make more. How honorable is that? Worse some of these ignorant Americans will grow up to be ignorant political leaders who pose an ever-present danger to everyone in this country and around the world.
On “Fox and Friends,” the Bush administration press sec Dana Perino attacked a supposedly terrorism-tainted Saudi prince whose foundation might contribute to the Islāmic center. But as “The Daily Show” keeps pointing out, these Fox bloviating never acknowledge that the evil prince they’re bashing, Walid bin Talal, is not only the biggest non-Murdoch shareholder in Fox News’s parent company (he owns 7 percent of News Corporation) and the recipient of Murdoch investments in Saudi Arabia but also the subject of lionization elsewhere on Fox.
Neil Cavuto praised bin Talal in a Fox Business Channel interview as recently as January, with nary a question about his supposed terrorist ties. Instead, bin Talal praised Obama’s stance on terrorism and even endorsed the Democrats’ goal of universal health insurance. Do any of the Fox-watching protestors at the “ground zero mosque” know that Fox’s profits are flowing to a Obama-sympathizing Saudi billionaire in bed with Murdoch? As Jon Stewart summed it up, the protestors who want “to cut off funding to the ‘terror mosque’ ” are aiding that funding by watching Fox and enhancing bin Talal’s News Corp. holdings.
In Kentucky they are developing an Ark theme park that will show Noah leading dinosaurs on to the Ark. This is all being funded by the state under the class of “entertainment”
In the most critical periods of our nation’s history, there have always been those fringes of our society who have sought to escape their own responsibility by finding a simple solution, an appealing slogan, or a convenient scapegoat and made millions from it .
Financial crises could be explained by the presence of too many immigrants or too much entitlements.
War could be attributed to munitions makers or international bankers.
Peace conferences failed because we were duped or tricked or deceived by the Russians, Iranians or wascaly wabbit.
At times these fanatics have achieved a temporary success among those who lack the will or the vision to face unpleasant tasks or unsolved problems.
Now we are face to face once again with a period of heightened peril. The risks are great, the burdens heavy, the problems incapable of swift or lasting solution. Men who are unwilling to face up to the danger from without are convinced that the real danger comes from within. They look suspiciously at their neighbors and their leaders. They call for a ‘man on horseback’ or a strict interpretation of the constitution because they do not trust the people. They find treason in churches, in our highest court, and even in the treatment of our food (glen beck show Dec 1). They equate the Democratic Party with the welfare state, the welfare state with socialism, and socialism with communism. They object quite rightly to politics’ intruding on the military — but they are anxious for the military to engage in politics.
But I take a different view of our peril. I know that it comes from without, not within. It must be met by quiet preparedness, not provocative speeches, myths or lies.
So people lets not heed these counsels of fear and suspicion. Let our patriotism be reflected in the creation of confidence and not crusades of suspicion. Let us prove we think our country great by striving to make it greater.
At the end of the Korean War Eisenhower said:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the last sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children….
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense.
Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross.”
Lets all hope we never get there.