A  point-by-point rebuttal of the right-wing propaganda

spewed by the intolerant, hate-mongering, divisive, so-called Christian Right.

During the last Presidential election, in January 2008, I received one of those smear emails that was being forwarded without end.  It was called "Who is Barack Obama?" and it contained so much innuendo, guilt by association and outright lies that I had to explicitly expose the tactics point by point, even before I knew that the Obama campaign was already aware of it and had debunked it publicly.  So it stood for more than a year. Then, on February 20, 2009 I got another such email.  The parallels were unmistakable: same lack of specifics, same guilt by association, same repetition to make it seem true, same appeals to patriotism and compassion for dead soldiers, so I had to write yet another explanation of the tactics to another friend.

Both emails are included below, with my comments interspersed.  The original propaganda, in typical email fashion, follows the '>' and is in mono-space red font.  My comments are in black.

Subject: Re: Fw: Who Is Barack Obama?

Wow! What a political hatchet job!  The opposition must be feeling pretty desperate to resort to name calling and guilt by association. I couldn't let this go by.  I address individual points below.

It took me a while to go through all this point by point, but here it is:

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <Name withheld to protect the gullible>
> Some info I received - FYI.  (whew - scary - too much doubt for me to consider
> him)

Well, if this kind of negative propaganda sways the electorate, this country deserves another George W.

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Ndb1033@aol.com

I wonder if this can be traced to one of the other campaigns...

> Subject: Fwd: Who Is Barack Obama?

> This is very interesting - please take a few moments and read it.
> Something that should be considered when you make your choice.
> We checked this out on "snopes.com". It is factual. Check for yourself.

Oh really?  Well, I don't have the time to check all this out but I wouldn't be surprised if most of it is BS.  Just because someone says so on the Internet it's not necessarily true.  In any case, most of it is pretty irrelevant to the qualifications of a president.

> Who is Barack Obama?

> Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born

Ah! A not so subtle effort to associate Barack with the old public enemy number one - Saddam Hussein, yes the one that has already cost this country trillions and who ended up not having the weapons of mass destruction.

> in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a  black  MUSLIM

Last I heard, Hawaii is a US state and thus being born there qualifies Barack to be US president.  Maybe the original writer is trying to play on the geographical ignorance of the American public - Hawaii is far and the Hawaiians don't look like us.  Pandering to racism?

A "black MUSLIM"...  Another "guilt by association" item.  Here the writer is trying to associate Barack with the "radical" organization from the 70s: the black Muslims and their outspoken leader.

> from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white Atheist from Wichita,

Oh my god!  His father was from Kenya!  A country rife with political corruption, Internet scam artists, aids and poverty.  And the relevance of this is... what?  Another attempt to link Barack with negative feelings about a third-world country.  And that foreign-sounding name, surely he is not one of us!

Horrors of Horrors!  His mother was an atheist.  In my book this is a plus, he was taught independent thinking by the most important person in his young life.  Of course, for the majority of this very religious country, he is not one of "us".  I can only hope that the country finally emerges from under the thumb of organized religion.

Here again, the writer is pandering to racists by emphasizing that his mother was not only an atheist but white.  What is a white educated woman doing with a nigger from Kenya?

> Kansas.  Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii. When Obama

Oh! in that god-less far away place.  Is the writer implying that meeting at a university is a negative?  Must be, those hotbeds of science and evolution...

> was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya.

Pandering to the Christian right, for whom divorce is a no-no? It's unfortunate that any child, especially that young, has to go through a divorce, but the writer is shooting himself in the foot here.  All the hoopla about Barack's father in the previous paragraphs and all that influence ended when the child was two years old.

> His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia.

Mmm... more guilt by association?  "RADICAL" eh? in other words, not like us.  "Muslim" - again an attempt to associate Barack with the radical Muslims that die in car bombs, of which there are some in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country.

> When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia.  Obama
> attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a

Here the implication is that he attended a school like those that brainwash kids to hate the west and teach them to become suicide bombers, but he was only 6 years old.  Note that the writer doesn't say how long he attended the "MUSLIM school", for all we know it might have been 6 months.

And he moved to that Muslim country: Indonesia.

> Catholic school.

More innuendo.  He only spent 2 years in the catholic school, out of his entire education.  And the implication is that the remaining 10 were spent in Muslim schools, which is obviously not the case or it would have been pointed out.

> Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is

The writer either is not very good at English grammar or is outright lying.  Either he doesn't know the difference between present and past tense or he is lying about Obama's current religion, as the quote below illustrates.

> quick to point out that, "He was once a Muslim, but that he
> also attended Catholic school."
> Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that he is
> not a radical.  Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and that
> this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned
> to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence
> over his son's education.

Non-sequitur.  The last sentence actually has nothing to do with the previous ones.  Actually, it contradicts the point the author is trying to make.  Not only is it irrelevant that Barack's father returned to Kenya after the divorce, why should it surprise anyone given how this country has and is treating immigrants, especially blacks?

> Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham,
> introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahhabi school
> in Jakarta.

Truth through repetition.  Well, it's not very surprising that children are exposed to the religion of their parents.  It's also not very surprising that schools in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country are Muslim.

Also note the repeated juxtaposition of the Anglo-Saxon, all-American, white name with the African, foreign-sounding, godless, black names.

> Wahabism is the RADICAL ISLAMIC teaching that is followed by the Muslim
> terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world.  Since

Faulty logic.  Therefore, Barack Obama is a terrorist?

Furthermore, Wahabism's hotbed is Saudi Arabia.  While Sunni Islam is by far the most widespread variety of Islam and both Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are Sunni, the penetration of Wahabism in Indonesia is very small.

> it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking major
> public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined

Ah! Another association with the other Hussein of Iraq fame.

And yes, this country is so narrow-minded religiously speaking, that it is true that non-Christians do have a hard time being elected or accepted.  Not so long ago, there was a national discussion about JFK's catholicism.  Luckily, the country overcame its non-protestant prejudice and he was elected.

> the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim
> background.   ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he

Frankly, the religious beliefs of an individual are a private matter. If he wants to join a Christian church, a Buddhist monastery, a Hindu temple or a Synagogue, more power to him.  People change religions all the time.  Some even dump organized religion altogether - horror of horrors!

> DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran.

If he was a Muslim at the time, that seems to be the logical choice. I'm sure the writer of this pamphlet wouldn't be caught dead being sworn into office using the Koran.

> Barack Hussein Obama will NOT recite the Pledge of Allegiance

More truth by repetition and association with the other Hussein.

Even if this is true, I'm sure he has his reasons.  It should be a private matter and really not important.  In a more general sense, any text that is force-fed to the population on a continuing basis (and this includes the pledge, prayers, and truth-by-repetition BS that is all too common in politics these days) is more an instrument of indoctrination and control than anything else.

> nor will he show any reverence for our flag.  While others

I'm sure the writer also goes berserk when someone burns a flag. Grow up!  It's a symbol.  A symbol that is despised around the world thanks to the mismanagement of the country for the last 8 years.

> place their hands over their hearts, Obama turns his back to the flag

That is what I'm really afraid of.  The true believers/patriots that follow, without thinking, the leaders that have destroyed a lot of what the founders of this country held dear.

If the American voter doesn't wake up and impose dramatic change at the ballot box, this country will go down in flames in not too long.

> and slouches.
> Let us all remain alert concerning Obama's expected presidential candidacy.

And let us all remain alert to the dirty tricks campaigns of the opposition and those vested interests that are getting rich with the current regime.

> The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside

Over-generalization.  Just because Tim McVeigh was a Christian, by this logic, all Christians are terrorists.

> out, what better way to start than at the highest level - through the
> President of the United States, one of their own!!!!

This is pure Hype, Hysteria and Fear Mongering.  Like I said, the republicans (most likely) must be feeling that they're going to lose even more of congress and the presidency and are resorting to desperate tactics.  And in fact, they should lose, as they have methodically destroyed any credibility this country had around the world, debased the currency with irresponsible spending, trashed civil rights, and imposed so much government control on everything, that it's looking suspiciously fascist.

> Please forward to everyone you know. Would you want this man leading
> our country?...... NOT ME!!

Well, he can't do worse than George W.

Subject: Re: FW: Rather Frightening

Bah! Humbug!  Just another hatchet job by the so-called Christian right, which is also racist, intolerant and holier than thou.

I'm not even sure how much of it is true.  I wouldn't be surprised that snopes would debunk most of it, but even if absolutely everything is true, the arguments below are surprisingly weak.

I'll address points individually below.

> ...
>    From: [1]Grace Girton
>    Subject: Not For the Weak
>    This is from my friend Ann Westberry, recently retired from U.S. Army
>    TRADOC Command at Ft. Monroe, Virginia.  Ann received this from her
>    brother Sonny who was aide-de-camp to Colin Powell.

Note that she (supposedly - it wouldn't surprise me that it's a ploy to use a woman's name, as women are virtuous and beyond crass politics, they're all about children, apple pie and the american way) starts by
playing the patriotism card (support our troops and all that crap). Also note the name-throwing, to make it seem more important than it is. Same exact tactic as that other hatchet-job we saw during the campaing, that was totally debunked.

>    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
>      Dear conservative and liberal political friends,,

Aha!  See here, they try to be "all inclusive" to hide their true agenda, which is racist and christo-fascist.

>      Looking at it as a whole....there is a very dangerous pattern emerging

They can't make a single valid point so they puff it up by saying that even though the individual items discussed might be harmless (as they really are), you have to be very afraid of the "EMERGING PATTERN"...

>      from the Obama Administration.  Of course, he has done more than these

They need someone to blame, so of course it's the Obama administration. What's next? call Obama the anti-christ?

>      actions but the speed in which he made these decisions, without debate,

Oh really? "more than these actions?"  note the innuendo again.  If these people were aware of "more actions", you better believe it that they would be enumerated in graphic detail.  In fact they resort to this sort of innuendo because they don't have a leg to stand on.

>      is extremely troublesome and bad for America.  We had damn well better

I beg to differ.  There has been one troublesome item so far in the Obama administration, and that is the various stimuli packages, which under the guise of preventing unemployment, is just the same old corporate welfare, but I'm sure this is not what these right wing rumor mongers have in mind, as Bush 2 was a master of taking care of his corporate buddies.

>      start paying attention and talking to our elected representatives about

By all means, these right wing extremists should talk to their elected representatives, which I'm sure they're doing already.  The problem is that they're such a minuscule minority that they have to try to convince everybody else to help them, and their arguements just don't cut it.

>      these harmful decisions.  Wonder what the familes of the Cole victims
>      are feeling now?

See?  For lack of substance thay have to resort to patriotism, war mongering and feelings for fallen soldiers.  Like someone said: "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels and politicians".

>      Speak out on these issues or reap the sorry results.....and from my
>      perspective, those results won't be good.

Well, frankly, I for one am extremely happy that the disastrous policies of the last 8 years are being undone.  Sorry results?  MY ASS!

>      By Executive Order, President Obama has ORDERED the expenditure of $20.3
>      Million of taxpayer money in migration assistance to the Palestinian
>      refugees and conflict victims in Gaza.  Executive Orders require no vote

Even if this is true, the sum is peanuts compared to the more than a trillion already allocated as "stimulus" aka corporate welfare.  I don't see these people complaining about that.  And that amount is probably less than is spent in 1 hour in the current wars.  I don't see them complaining about that either.  More on the particular subject, Israel gets many times that in help from this country.  What? no complaint about that either?  The only conclusion any one can make is that these people are either racist, bigots or nazis that want the extermination of the palestinians.  I'm all for keeping our money at home (charity begins at home, to quote them), but let's not be selective about it.

>      or input from Congress or Senate.   No debate, no legislation, no vote -
>      nothing but his pen to paper.

Well, yes, we all know that an executive order is not the same as a bill passed by congress.  More fluff since they don't have much content to stand on.  And Bush 2 was a master of the executive order, he used it more than any other president before him, in his gross abuse of power.

>      The "presidential determination" which allows hundreds of thousands of
>      Palestinians with ties to Hamas to resettle in the United States was
>      signed on January 27 and appeared in the Federal Register on February 4.

Ah yes.  Guilt by association again.  Palestine is tiny.  I would be surprised if the whole population of the Hamas controlled territory reaches this number.  It sounds like a gross exageration.  Not to mention that these "ties" are extremely hard to define.  I suspect that, in the minds of these ideologues, having voted for Hamas (which besides whatever terroristic/military activities they engage in, also provides social services) would be enough to have them declared terrorists, with all the consequences.

>      President Obama's decision, according to the Federal Register, was
>      necessitated by "the urgent refugee and migration needs" of the
>      "victims."   (There goes the use of the word "urgent" again)

Everything that has been in the news about the recent Israeli offensive points to widespread destruction.  I would say that people whose houses have been destroyed, whose cooking fuel is stopped at the border by the Israelis and whose water doesn't flow are in urgent need of assistance.

>      Few on Capitol Hill took note that the order provides a free ticket
>      replete with housing and food allowances to individuals who have
>      displayed their overwhelming support of the Islamic Resistance Movement
>      (Hamas) in the parliamentary election of January 2006.

Faulty logic.  This paragraph tries to tie those few that might eventually get permission to emigrate and resettle with active support of the leadership of the territory.  While a majority of the west bank voted for Hamas, it is not possible to assert that those that eventually move here even voted for them, not to mention actively supported them.

Note also how they play on the protestant work ethic ("free ticket with housing and food allowances") that was used in another time against the "welfare queens" to justify a massive reduction in the safety net that has resulted in increased poverty based on very few actual cases of abuse of the system.

>      Let's review some of Obama's most recent actions since he was
>      inaugurated:

Since we don't have much substance to offer, let's rehash well-know facts (assuming they are true) while ommitting vital context.

>      * His first call to any head of state as president was to Mahmoud Abbas,
>      leader of Fatah party in the Palestinian territory.

Again assuming this is true (the first), I seem to recall that at the time Obama took office the Israeli offensive was ongoing or had just passed.  This fact makes the situation current to the time in question.

>      * His first one on one interview with any news organization was with Al
>      Arabia television.

The crisis in the middle east is probably the most important international issue these days, furthermore, in keeping with his electoral promise to extend a hand and totally change course in foreign policy, that was a very logical step.

>      * He ordered Guantanamo Bay closed and all military trials of detainees
>      halted.

Another campaing promise.  I'm certainly glad he kept his promises. Maybe the image of the US will improve.  The legal framework of the last Bush administration was no better than any petty dictatorship out there. It's like Bush used the constitution to wipe his ass.  There! be offended, Christian conservatives!  Unfortunately, they will be offended by the action of wiping ass, not by the fact that the constitution was used for the purpose, which is the real offense here.

>      * He ordered all overseas CIA interrogation centers closed.

THANK GOD! (to use a term that should be familiar to the writer of this hatchet job).  Are these people supporting clandestine torture?

>      * He withdrew all charges against the masterminds behind the USS Cole
>      and 9/11.

As part of the closing of Guantanamo.  A proper judicial procedure will be started later, under a proper legal framework, not the secret kangaroo court that was the norm before.  This latter bit of information has been conveniently ignored, of course.

>      * Today we learn that he is allowing hundreds of thousands of
>      Palestinian refuges to move to and live in the US at American taxpayer
>      expense.

Ah!  If you repeat it enough times, it will somehow become true?

>      Does anybody else see an eerie frightening pattern here?

Yes! I see a pattern here.  The same innuendo and lack of specifics, if
not outright lies that I encountered in that original propaganda
pamphlet during the campaign.  The same tactics: guilt by association,
truth by repetition, playing on patriotic feeling, emphasizing "us vs
them" differences, etc...

I'm glad these ideologues are the tiny minority they are, or we would be
living in a religious state not unlike Iran.

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