Saturday, February 4, 2012
Ah, the Internet! A source of wisdom and knowledge. A source of deception and manipulation. Which will it be for you?
I admit it, I’m a Democrat. I have no intention of turning this blog into a political forum. This is the first, and I hope only, political post I will ever make here, but there is something I just gotta say. For going on 4 years now I have been receiving political emails regarding the evils of everything liberal, including the evil Barack Obama. They come/came from 5 or 6 sources… really nice people, one elderly, most middle class Christians, some a little better off than that, two military types. They are all friends or great internet contacts.
The political emails, which are sent to 10 to 30 people at a time, are so far all GOP. Thank God the Dems aren’t doing this yet, at least not in emails from private individuals sent to huge lists of their private contacts.
The problem with these messages is that they are full of political hooey.
1. They drop information out that affects the meaning. Consider the recent storm over Mitt Romney saying that he’s not concerned about the poor. The rest of the sentence is what he really meant.
2. They stir up info that may be very old, from another era and make it sound like a current issue. An example is the Cindy Williams message I received the other day. The super pac that paid the PR firm (I'm just guessing about that) to tweak that old information from the Clinton era and 2000 wants you to think that Obama appointed a woman who thinks that the military people make enough money already. She is not an Obama appointee.
3. They drop the context and make quick political hay without revealing why something was said or done. An example would be the speech made by Obama to Turkish journalists in Turkey when he said that America is not a Christian nation but a nation with a lot of Christians in it. His point is that we are a diverse nation with many religions but we are not blowing each other up or cutting each others’ throats over religion. Jesus is not in our constitution. Mention of God and prayer leaves an opportunity for everyone with various religious beliefs (Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists, New Agers, etc.) to participate in the national dialogue. The Turks should think about that as a model for their own nation. That is what the president meant.
4. They push buttons that mean a lot to people, like religion, soldiers, babies, kittens, mom and apple pie, the elderly, and when they’ve got you stirred up and thinking that you MUST send this on, they throw in the name of Obama, who actually had nothing to do with the issue, so you will connect your anger with the O at election time.
5. They lie. So do the Dems. That’s why from now on, we ALL need to be checking everything we read and hear of a political nature.
6. They alarm the reader with manipulative language like, “Alert! Alert! Alert!” or “!!!!” or “Send this to everyone on your list.” In fact, whenever you see the latter remark for whatever reason, you shouldn’t do it. Or they play the Jesus card. If you love Jesus send this on. If not, delete it. Who would delete Jesus?
7. In addition to demonizing the other side, you can always make them look stupid. I’m not talking about political cartoons. I have no issue with genuine political satire. I’m talking about things that did not happen at all, then saying, “Look what that idiot said or did. What a clown!” Or you put a Hitler mustache on someone’s picture. That’s not only ignorant, it’s a cheap, offensive shot. If someone did that to George Bush I would say the same thing. I’m told that it happened, but I didn’t happen to see it.
Both sides are accusing each other of fomenting hatred. Not just strong opinions, which we have always had in our Democratic way of government, but actual hatred. Among Christians, this is unacceptable. We can’t change each others’ ideologies, but we can cool the rhetoric with each other.
There are plenty of places to check the facts (see below), but a clearly left or right-leaning source is not the best choice. Of course, we will all absolutely continue to return to our favorite RW or LW media outlet, but calling the other guy’s choice ‘the drive-by media’ or ‘lamestream media’ is just… lame.
We need to cut the hysteria and remain as civil as possible. GOPers that I know and love, when you send these missives out to all your church friends and colleagues, remember that more than half the country voted for Barack Obama. I haven’t seen any signs as of yet that he is the Anti-Christ. Some of the people on your list are Democrats. Have a little caution. Check the contents of the message before you send it out. Best yet, don’t send it at all. Dems, please don’t even think about it.
I really do believe that the hysteria of today’s political divisions contributed somewhat to the shooting of Gabby Gifford. Don’t say it can’t happen. Two Kennedys and MLK were assassinated here in America, and Ronald Reagan only lived by a frog hair. Now that we have the Internet with its instant communication capability, we ALL need to go a little slower, be a little more cautious, more thoughtful, and a lot less easy to manipulate.
Here are some options for fact checking: www.snopes.com; www.truthorfiction.com; www.politifact.com; www.factcheck.org; or just google a phrase and see what you find on the internet.