Friday, March 4, 2011

The Art of Character Assassination

There has been an ongoing attempt by those on the right to cast aspersions on President Obama’s character, to malign his ethnicity and rewrite his personal history. Unfortunately it has been so successful that according to a widely disseminated CNN News Poll published on last August 4th forty-one percent of republicans profess to believe the president either probably or definitely was born in another country. Twenty-nine percent of independents and twenty-seven percent of all Americans believe the same thing. The conspiracy theory won’t die and now we have at least eleven states either proposing or having passed new laws regarding proof of citizenship and eligibility for holding presidential office, they include Arizona's HB2544, Connecticut's SB391, Georgia's HB37, Indiana's SB114, Maine's LD34, Missouri's HB283, Montana's HB205, Nebraska's LB654, Oklahoma's SB91, SB384 and SB540, Tennessee SB366, and Texas; HB295 and HB529. While some of these bills have died in committee or been shelved because they are rightly seen as unconstitutional the fact that they were proposed at all speaks to the prevalence, depth and reach of the misinformation campaign that has been waged against Barak Obama and his real true life biography.
One has to assume that most men and women who have risen to the rank of either their state legislature or our national legislature would be possessed of both the innate intelligence and common sense to assess the facts surrounding the president’s birth, upbringing, childhood, young adulthood, education and work history. You would like to be able to and indeed almost have to credit them with the ability to seek and know the truth if you are going to be at all comfortable with them holding the offices that they do. After all the truth is out there and readily available to any who really seek it. One would assume that our legislators on both the state and national level would have a vested interest in any presidential contender’s credentials and bona fides let alone any politically aware citizen with the smallest modicum of intelligence. So it is hard to fathom why if we take for granted both the ability and a pressing need to know the truth so many either clumsily dissemble, feign ignorance or actively support the untruthful, malicious and malevolent stories being propagated not just by your average imbecilic conspiracy theorist but also those who not only should know better but indubitably do.
Logic tells you that people lie for only a couple of reasons unless they are pathologically addicted to the telling of falsehoods. The most obvious and probably most prevalent reason people prevaricate is to get out of or avoid getting into trouble for some act or omission that if known to be true will incur what they perceive to be negative consequences. Another frequent reason for this most aberrational of behaviors is self aggrandizement or the pursuit of popularity and approval from those lied to. Since neither of those reasons would seemingly apply to those responsible for propagating a completely false history of the president’s life there must therefore be some other reason for the lies. There are only two possibilities that spring to mind. Exclusive of motivation which can be surmised but not empirically known one can assume that those who know the truth and refuse to acknowledge it must be receiving some satisfaction from their endeavors to paint the president as other than he really is. One such source of satisfaction must be the attempt to destroy his political potential and derail his chances for reelection. The other would necessarily spring from some sort of personal animas based on either a personal experience with the president or a prejudice against him for some reason which would seem to stem from his not being “one of us”. Since we can empirically dispense with any sort of personal experience the motivation must be the latter or some sort of ingrained prejudice against what is most often lied about that being his ethnic background, place of birth, political persuasion, associations, and religion and life experiences.
He has been accused of being a socialist, a communist, a Nazi, un-American, a foreigner, a Muslim, a terrorist and part of an old conspiracy to bring an Islamic president into the White House for the purpose of destroying the constitution and implementing Sharia law in the United States. He has even been accused of being the Anti-Christ of biblical prophecy who will bring about Armageddon and the end of the world as we know it. The most troubling aspect of this conspiracy of lies is that it is being spread, supported and kept alive by intelligent, educated, articulate representatives of our government and some of those who would be president themselves. The latest iteration of this is the Mike Huckabee statements and concurrence of Bill O’reilly this last week. This is just one example of literally hundreds if not thousands of instances where people of note have told and retold these lies when they certainly know them to be lies for their own nefarious purposes whatever they may be. The fact that this activity has been utilized primarily by the Republican Party from their leaders on down to the lowliest tea party member is not lost on even the most casual observer and does not serve them well in terms of the trust, respect and confidence it engenders in even the honest conservative much less the truly independent voter or democrat.
It is truly troubling that any aggregate of nationally prominent people would resort to such blatant mis-appropriation of the truth for any reason including politics or outright prejudice. It speaks volumes about what they perceive the intelligence of their constituency’s to be and also about their own morality and personal character. It points to a lessening of our national character and morality as well. It is disheartening to think we have become a nation of so naïve, apathetic, prejudiced and or ignorant individuals that our leaders think such a tactic will work and that in fact it has convinced twenty-seven percent of us that the lie is the truth because it is what we want to believe. It must negatively affect our standing in the world wide community when people who once admired us for our political achievements now see us exposed for a country that rather than have open and honest debates on the issues we face together sees one party trying to assassinate the character of our president with lies the whole world knows to be lies and a measurable percentage of our populous drinking the cool-aid.
To the extent that this program of biographical alteration is a political strategy designed along with an obvious attempt to keep the economy in decline until after the 2012 elections and beyond should President Obama win this is a truly frightening scenario we are being subjected to and one has to wonder what the ulterior motivations of those pulling the strings are. Is it really just as simple as a misguided attempt to take back the White House or when seen in combination with the rights job killing budget proposal, union busting activities, intent to destroy social programs and the ongoing export of our manufacturing base is there some more nefarious purpose afoot? One can only guess at the ultimate outcome of a clean sweep by the republicans but a world where America has no concern for the environment, no regulatory oversight of our food production, financial industry and corporate malfeasance is troubling to say the very least. The right will given the opportunity kill social security, Medicaid, un-employment insurance, food stamps, and any other social program they can get their hands on. The fact that they have been not only willing but remarkably successful in pursuing these goals by means fair and most foul should be of paramount concern to all Americans liberal or conservative.

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