Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Eleventh Commandment?

Thou shalt not circulate virulent chain emails filled with lies and half-truths in the name of furthering your political agenda.

My mother and I went round and round about this during the lead-up to the election. I was, and still am, a staunch Obama supporter; she and many of her correspondents believe he lies somewhere between the Soviet Union and the anti-Christ on the continuum of evil popularized by Dick Cheney, et al. The last couple of months before November's election, the volume and level of sheer nastiness spewed across cyberspace reached a fevered pitch. I couldn't open my email inbox without having my senses assailed by the latest claim associating Obama with terrorism, flag burning and the advocacy of baby killing and doing away with Sunday newspaper coupons. At first, I tried to point out the inconsistencies within these missives, tried to get my mother (who is a smart woman) to apply reason or, at least, Google. I sent her links to or, better yet, to sites where the sources refuted the doctored versions of their ideology kidnapped by the religious right for the alleged greater good. But she took that as the devil quoting scripture for his purposes, and we finally reached an uneasy truce only when the propaganda machine that produces these things wound down, dispirited, after the election.

But now it's back, and revved up. The doomsday predictions from before the election must now be substantiated through a renewed email smear campaign. The latest product can be found in my yahoo inbox, or here: The gist of this one is that it compares our current sociopolitical landscape with 1930's Germany and, you guessed it, President Obama with Hitler. That's right, all the leading eggheads in the country believe we're headed for Naziism. If you don't believe me, read your Revelations. This one is spreading faster than a juicy rumor via the 21st century version of the church phone tree: the email distribution list. The M.O. for these things is always the same: attach some official sounding credentials--maybe a picture--and a shaky attribution. Run spell check and, quick, get it in the hands of those legions of the neoconservative movement who are interested in it only insofar as it confirms their worldview. The alleged author's refutation can be found here:

I can't help but wonder in all this: what would Jesus do? Why is it that the religious right in this country, seemingly so anxious to create a theocracy with Christianity at its center, regularly disregards the very core tenets of Christianity? Or was that little admonition not to lie only applicable when it's politically expedient?

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