Saturday, January 12, 2008


Misinformation, fearmongering, and prejudice

Coincidentally, I got two related messages yesterday from two friends, each concerned about unfair criticism of the Democratic presidential candidates. The first friend forwarded this message, which had been forwarded by a friend of hers (pasted here, including the odd asterisks):

**In a news conference Deanna Favre announced she will be the starting QB for the Packers this coming Sunday. Deanna asserts that she is qualified to be starting QB because she has spent the past 16 years married to Brett while he played QB for the Packers. During this period of time she became familiar with the definition of a corner blitz, and is now completely comfortable with other terminology of the Packers offense. A survey of Packers fans shows that 50% of those polled supported the move. **

*Does this sounds idiotic and unbelievable to you? Well, Hillary Clinton makes the same claims as to why she is qualified to be President and 50% of democrats polled agreed. She has never run a City, County, or State. *

**When told Hillary Clinton has experience because she has 8 years in the white house, Dick Morris stated "so has the pastry chef". **

My friend replied to the sender, saying that the characterization there is sexist and stupid, and pointed out the flaws. Indeed. The analogy is ridiculous to start with, and her time as First Lady does count as relevant experience. And apart from that, she’s a lawyer, and has spent the last seven years as a U.S. Senator.

Senator Clinton isn’t my favourite candidate, and I disagree with her on a number of things, including her position on the war in Iraq and the disposition of our troops. But she’s certainly qualified, and I object to this cheap attempt to attack her without addressing the issues.

Then I got this message from another friend:

For the second time this week, I’ve received an email claiming that Barack Obama is hiding his radical Muslim leanings. This message is designed to strike fear into everyone’s heart that his potential election will open the US to "invasion from within" by Islamic terrorists. It is circulating very widely.

The email claims you can verify its truth at

To read what Snopes REALLY says about this fabrication, go to

If Obama continues to do well in the primaries, we are going to see a tidalwave of anti-black, anti-muslim, anti-whatever smear-and-fear emails. Those who oppose Obama’s candidacy will stop at nothing, and truth is entirely dispensable for them.

Regardless of where you stand about Obama’s candidacy (and I certainly don’t agree with all his policies), we all need to stand against these smear and fear campaigns.

If anyone has a great ideas about how to get this kind of trash out of our campaigns, and get the country focused on the real issues (oh yeah, and also truth would be nice too), let me know! If you think passing this on to others might be helpful, please do so.

Senator Obama isn’t my favourite candidate either, and I disagree with him on a number of things too. But he’s certainly qualified, the email messages that have been going around for a while tell a pack of lies, and I object to this cheap attempt to attack him without addressing the issues.

Unfortunately, many people will read the message about Senator Obama and will believe it, or at least will believe enough of it for it to do its damage. And many people will read the silly analogy about Senator Clinton’s experience and go away thinking that she’s no more qualified than a football player’s wife is to play football, or the White House pastry chef is to run the country.

And unfortunately, I think it’s not possible “to get this kind of trash out of our campaigns, and get the country focused on the real issues.” I think the best we can do is distribute the truth and try to counter the lies, address the issues ourselves, and accept that people will continue to talk crap. In the late 1940s and the ’50s, we had the House Un-American Activities Committee and Joseph McCarthy saying that everyone and his brother was a Communist. In the ’50s, Stevenson was criticized for being “too intellectual” to be president (criticism that seems particularly interesting now, doesn’t it?). In 1960, there was speculation and innuendo flying about presidential candidate Kennedy’s Catholicism and what he “might do” because of that, where his allegiance might lie. It’s not new, to ignore the issues, spread lies, and imply things, and it’ll never stop.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight it anyway, so here’s my part. All this stuff is crap. It’s lies, it’s faulty characterizations, it’s prejudice... it’s garbage that people come up with to discredit credible people. And it’s irrelevant. Where a candidate stands on the issues is relevant. What a candidate will do if elected is relevant. That’s what I’m looking at, and that’s the only basis upon which I’m making my decisions.

1 comment:

scouter573 said...

Get ready. These two examples are just a preview of what will come. Whether it can be attributed to organizational committees or just to the dregs of the conservative supporters, we're going to see waves and waves of this dreck from now until November. The first waves will be as illustrated - the targets will be the easy ones like people of color and women. Don't think that the progressive white guys will get off without such attacks; their turn will come next. Remember Swift Boat Veterans for Convenient Recollection? Remember the cheap shots about the "inventor of the internet"? More recently, recall the comments about a "half-rican" and the widows who "enjoy" their status?

It won't be enough to assert the truth. These people don't care about truth. They care about winning and getting their way. They must be found and called out as liars. They must be spotlighted with their own lies.

And by the way, let's call out those glibertarians. The ones who sound reasonable with short answers on selected topics who are secretly hiding their beliefs of world-wide Jewish cabals and sub-human races. I almost hope one of those quacks will get the Republican nomination so that it will be easy to overcome the closet racists.

This kind of crap makes me mad. We have to fight back with the truth. Drive the focus back to the issues.