This is going to be a long post, so if you have the time go make a sandwich and come sit down with me for a moment and let me tell you something:
Friends, not everything on the Internet is true.
I know this may come as a shock to some people. But I mean hell, if an asshole like me can get a blog then anyone can do it. So when you read certain emails or stumble across certain sites, you need to take what they have to say with a grain of salt.
Recently, I received an email forward imploring me to take a look at a certain video before I make up my mind on who to vote for in the upcoming Presidential election.
It's a video made by one 'Lorne Baxter' as a means of exposing the 'real Barack Hussein Obama.' Here is the video clip.
The person who sent me this forward asked me what I thought. I found the clip so intellectually offensive (that's right, I'm a nerd, deal with it) that I wrote a very lengthy response email. It is long and relates directly back to the video clip, but I thought I owed it to the Internet to post some sort of response so here it is:
"Honestly, I think this video is a load of crap.
This is the kind of home-made Internet sludge that throws together a bunch of half-truths, misquoted statements and lies in the hopes that something is going to stick in the audience's mind and cast false doubts on a candidate for public office. It is intellectually dishonest and really insults my intelligence as a voter and as a reasonable American citizen.
This actually has me so indignant that I'm going to take a moment to tear some of this apart to show you what I mean.
(I) First, let's consider our source: who the hell is Lorne Baxter? As it turns out, Lorne Baxter doesn't actually exist; he is a pseudonym for some dude names Jason Mitchell, who is a 28 year old former wedding videographer turned fundamentalist Christian television producer from North Carolina. Here is a website explaining who this guy is.
Not exactly the Wall Street Journal, is he? This is a guy who won't even use his real name when he's making wild accusations and he expect you to trust him?
(II) The name "issue:" Mr. Fake-Baxter claims that 'while we are at war with Islamic terrorism, can America elect a man with not one, not two, but three Islamic names?"
Here is the first clue that you're dealing with an idiot because he's trying to claim that Obama is both somehow a Muslim extremist and a Black Liberation Christian. Except, you can't really be both since Christianity and Islam prohibit the worship of other Gods as a requirement of the faith. Mr. Fake-Baxter tries to have it both ways when logically he can't.
Also, the names "Barack" and "Obama" are actually Kenyan names, not Islamic names so the guy really only has one Islamic name. They are all exotic names, though, so Fake-Baxter thinks he can get away with it. Obama was given the name Hussein 18 years before Saddam Hussein even came to power. Also, Barack Hussein Obama was his father's name, who was a non-practicing Muslim (note: non-practicing) at the time of his son's birth, who was only part of young Obama's life for 2 years and who had no part in his upbringing. (By the way, all of this information can be found with a simple wikipedia search for Barack Obama)
(a) Claiming that Obama is a Muslim because his father was once a Muslim and they share the same name is like claiming that my brother must be from Missouri because my father, who shares the same name, was born in Missouri. (b) Claiming that Obama is a Muslim because his middle name is a Muslim name is like claiming that I, Nathaniel, am Jewish because Nathaniel is a Hebrew name.
Of course, if he's even remotely related to someone who may have at one time been Muslim, then he is most certainly a threat to America because, of course, all Muslims are evil. Except for Cat Stevens, who still makes nice music. And, of course, King Abdullah II al Hussein (Hussein! There's that name again!), who is an American ally in the Middle East. Also, the guys at Zad on Broadway St. in Chicago make a mean falaffel. But I digress.
The point is that these are logical fallacies that Mr. Fake-Baxter exploits to drum up doubt and fear where logical there is none.
(III) National Journal's Most Liberal Member of Congress: No kidding; the guys a Democrat. Is anyone surprised by this? Hey, I have an idea: let's have a political debate about liberal policies versus conservative values and make a reasonable decision based on that conversation, right Mr. Fake-Baxter?
Wait, no, the video is moving on to more character assassination. I'm afraid that substantive debate will have to wait.
(IV) The First Set of Facts: Mr. Fake-Baxter throws these around really quickly in the hope that we won't sit down and actually research whether or not they are true. All of these responses can be found with a quick look through the Internet.
Fact A: Barack's dad is a Muslim (was a Muslim, was not practicing at time of Barack's birth, already talked about that) and his mother was a white woman from Kansas (so? What's Fake-Baxter's point? Are all Kansans terrorists too?)
Fact B: Obama attended a Muslim school. Not true, he attended Suki Elementary in Indonesia, which is and has always been a secular public school.
In fact, here is a link to a site Obama's campaign put up, featuring a CNN report (a credible news service) on Obama's school.
Fact C: Vague voting record. You will notice in this clip that Mr. Fake-Baxter cuts this debate clip such that you never hear Obama's response. So the guy never gets a chance to defend himself. You also never hear that Obama's voting 'present' is actually something he did while in the Illinois Legislature, not the U.S. Senate.
In Illinois, 'present' is a valid vote. Here is an explanation from an Illinois state rep:
"The 'present' vote in Illinois is sometimes cast by state lawmakers with a conflict of interest who would rather not weigh in on an issue. Other times, members use the option to object to certain parts of a bill, even though they may agree with its overall purpose.
"The 'present' vote is used, especially by more thoughtful legislators, not as a means of avoiding taking a position on an issue, but as a means of signaling concerns about an issue," said state Rep. John Fritchey (D), an Obama supporter." Full article.
Fact D: Che Guevara flag = Obama is a mass murderer? Seriously? This is a damning fact - that some people in one campaign office in Texas put up picture of Che? Really? I knew people in college with Che posters and t-shirts. Most of those people, to the best of my knowledge, are neither Communists or mass murderers. BUT I COULD BE WRONG.
Fact E: Obama Refuses to Wear a Flag Pin: this is actually not true at all. Obama has been photographed many times wearing a flag pin ever since people made such a huge freaking deal about the fact that Obama - per the clip in this video - would rather show his patriotism by helping America than by wearing a stupid piece of painted tin. As a Christian producer, Mr. Fake-Baxter should be able to recite to you a parable about pharisees praying the loudest in temple yet being the biggest hypocrites, but I guess we've forgotten that little lesson, haven't we?
By the way, I have personally never worn a flag pin. I can assure you that I am not an islamo-fascist black panther terrorist.
Fact F: Obama refuses to respect the national anthem. We're supposed to base this on one picture of Obama respectfully folding his hands during the national anthem. Did anyone see him spitting, gnashing his teeth, or screaming and howling in agony? No. You didn't.
I've been to many a sporting event where people won't even put their beer down during the national anthem. But, just in case, here's another link from the Obama campaign with video proof showing him leading the Pledge of Allegiance in the Senate.
Fact G: Obama attended a church with a controversial pastor. Finally, an actual real fact! Let's talk more about this in a couple of paragraphs, though, as it will account for nearly half of Mr. Fake-Baxter's argument.
Fact H: Michelle Obama one time said once in front of an audience once that she finally feels proud of her country. Ripped out of context, of course, but then the President's approval ratings are at an all time low, so I don't think anyone can fault someone for being pissed off about an unpopular government. Besides, she has since clarified her statement on many different occasions. Here's just one quote:
"What I was clearly talking about was that I'm proud in how Americans are engaging in the political process," she said.
"For the first time in my lifetime, I'm seeing people rolling up their sleeves in a way that I haven't seen and really trying to figure this out — and that's the source of pride that I was talking about," she added.
Good lord this is getting exhausting.
(V) Reverend Wright / Religion: Seriously, the next 8 minutes are all clips of Reverend Wright, Mr. Fake-Baxter telling us what 'liberation theology' and 'black liberation theology' are, and Mr. Fake-Baxter tying Obama to him and all of this dirty, evil footage.
Never mind the fact that Obama has since renounced Reverend Wright, quit the church in question, etc. Never mind that John McCain actively sought the endorsement of Reverend John Hagee despite the fact that he calls Roman Catholicism the great whore of Babylon and thinks that the Holocaust was God's will. Instead, let's just accuse Obama of radical Christian blackness based on five minutes or so of some other guy talking to Sean Hannity, who is an irritating person anyway.
Of course, anyone who has actually been following the race would know that Obama has since given a 30 minute long speech about all of this that is actually quite a good, intelligent, reasonable speech. If you have a chance, you should watch this. Alas, Mr. Fake-Baxter only uses a tiny clip of it to prove that Obama somehow hates his grandmother. But then, Mr. Fake-Baxter probably doesn't want you to hear the whole speech because it is actually intelligent.
But I digress again. Let's look at Mr. Fake-Baxter's logic quickly.
Barack Obama = Reverend Wright = Black Liberation Theology = Liberation Theology = Latin American Communism (all Democrats are Communists, remember?) = Che Guevara = Mass Murderer. Ah ha! There's that face again! The same one that was hanging on a wall in that one small campaign office somewhere (and on my barrista's t-shirt)! It must be true! Barack Obama = Mass Murderer!
Even discounting the fact that Obama is not the same person as Reverend Wright, you have to admit that this is a pretty big logical stretch Fake-Baxter wants us to stomach.
If I called McCain a Nazi because of his (former) spiritual advisor Hagee's endorsement, wouldn't they call me crazy? They would because it's a stupid argument and that it's blatantly not true.
(VI) Lifting the Ban on Meeting With Terrorists: As much as I dislike Ahmadhinejad, he is actually an elected official. Obama has not offered to meet with Bin Laden or Hamas, which are recognized as terrorist leaders of terrorist organizations. Obama is talking about meeting with world leaders (Kim Jong-Il of North Korea, who has agreed to cooperate on dismantling their nuclear capabilities, and Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya, who isn't even part of the Axis of Evil) that we don't like.
This is the closest that Fake-Baxter comes to making an argument based on actual policy. But instead of doing that (a conversation that reasonable voting Americans should have) he insinuates that Obama will meet with terrorists by saying his name while showing pictures of heads-of-state who actually aren't really terrorists.
Fake-Baxter, of course, forgets that Nixon met with Nikita Khrushchev in 1959, yet nobody accused Nixon of being a Communist.
Now we come to the video's big conclusion. The conclusion where Mr. Fake-Baxter doesn't actual accuse Obama of anything substantive. The conclusion where he parades the previously noted half-truths, lies, etc. in front of us in a cascade of bullshit that we can't possible defend against. He asks if we can ignore the evidence. Evidence of what? Mr. Fake-Baxter never outright says what the charge is. Instead, he leaves that for you to decide because (a) he is too chicken-shit to actually say what he means (b) he can't prove any such assertion because there is no direct, concrete, real, empirical evidence that Obama is a mass murder or that he is trying to destroy America, and finally (c) he doesn't want to be accused of slander (which is probably why he refuses to use his real name).
So fine, let's take a step back, meet him half way and take a look at the big picture: Some guy who won't even give you his real name expects you to believe that a current U.S. Senator, that a former Illinois State Senator, that a graduate of Harvard Law School, that a former editor of the Harvard Law Review, that a United States Citizen, that a man who has devoted over a year and countless hours and dollars to running for President, that Barack Obama hates America and wants to destroy the country because his middle name is Muslim, once refused to wear a flag pin and knows a guy who said controversial things once.
The goal of this piece is to cast doubt, not provide proof. The irony is that the very Internet that makes this kind of viral-bullshit slander possible is the same Internet that provided all of the information that I needed to decide that this is, indeed, viral-bullshit slander.
And of course, the sad thing is that there really are policy differences that could be used to make a decision on who gets our vote. As an independent voter, I would prefer to make my decision (whether it be Obama, McCain, or possibly even Bob Barr) based on real policies, real facts and real issues. This is not high school, after all.
You will also notice that John McCain rejects all of Mr Fake-Baxter aka Jason Mitchell's assertions for what they are - bullshit. And why? Because the race for Presidency is not about who gets slandered the most or who is the most American or who is least likely to possibly be a closeted islamo-facist. The race for Presidency is about deciding which direction the country should go over the next four years. This is what people should be discussing and researching and contemplating.
So that's what I think."
Yeah, that took the better part of a morning to put together, but it just pisses me off that ridiculous shit gets passed around the Internet from person to person without anyone stopping to think, 'Wait, is this bullshit? Maybe I should double check before I send it to everyone I know.'
I bet that'll make you think twice before you send me a forward, won't it?