Yesterday I received an email from my mother with the subject line “Who is Barack Obama?”
The email contained a list of supposed truths regarding Senator (and presidential hopeful) Barack Obama, insinuating that he is not who he portrays himself to be or everyone thinks he is, and that in fact he is a radical Muslim and may be in on an Islamic extremist plan to destroy the United States. The email is signed by William H. Shay of Yale University Procurement Department.
Initially when I received the email, my mother asking for my thoughts, I responded by telling her that it was nothing more than innuendo and half-truths spun for negative purposes, but I didn’t delete the email because I felt compelled to dispel its contents.
This morning when I got out of bed I searched the internet for Mr. Shay and found that “robotmaster” at http://blog.comedyrobot.com had supposedly called the number and discovered that it was an unassigned number at Yale and that no one with that name works or ever worked at Yale. He adds in his blog entry “…how hard is it to Google something like this? In less than 20 seconds I found article after article saying this email was complete crap.”
I decided to go one step further just to satisfy my own curiosity (and to make sure “robotmaster” wasn’t lying himself) I called the listed number which simply rang and rang. No voicemail greeting was on the phone, but more importantly, no one named William H Shay answered.
The use of Yale University is meant to automatically give it authority, stature and authenticity. The problem is Mr. Shay does not exist. He is only real in the imagination of a cowardly writer.
It is lies like this that get started and ruin people’s reputations (and possibly lives) and the authors of this slander know the fastest way to disseminate any information (lies or otherwise) in the beginning of the 21st century is via email and the internet. And don’t forget, the more people hear the same lie repeated over and over the faster it becomes fact (insert King George’s face and the Fox News logo here). Just ask John McCain.
Eight years ago, King George’s brain, Karl Rove, did the same thing to John McCain. He and his backroom henchmen called unsuspecting republican voters in South Carolina and informed them that John McCain had carried on an extra-marital affair which resulted in an illegitimate black child that the couple was now raising.
The truth is, as Mr. Rove and King George were aware, John McCain and his wife had adopted a child from Bangladesh.
Prior to this smear, John McCain was on his way to winning the republican nomination for president. This lie started the fall of John McCain that led to the illegitimate presidency of King George.
For those that haven’t figured it out on their own, the purpose of this unvetted, often circulated email is to scare Americans. A black man with an Arab name is running to become the President of the United State. Mr. Obama, not having the typical Anglo name is an easy target in these times of finger pointing and terror alerts – and although many will not admit it, his skin color is also an issue for many Americans.
People need to question and not just blindly believe what they read. The old saying is believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see. Today the truth is you cannot believe anything you hear and none of what you see. With technology as it is today photos are easily doctored and conversations manufactured.
As I mentioned previously, spin doctors repeat lies over and over to the point that the public believes it true. Making matters even worse is that traditional, reliable news sources are now creating stories and quoting from less than honest sources. The tabloidization of the American press is in full swing and it is common place for the corporate media to reference tabloid sources when reporting important stories.
Everyday intelligent Americans believe what the news corps feed them, and if they receive an email from a friend, or friendly source, they believe the contents are truthful and have been verified. Most people do not question the origination source of the information they are receiving; trusting that someone along the chain has verified the validity and know it to be fact.
There remains one problem with this…. No one is verifying the information. They are simply passing it along as fact, and the lie perpetuates itself and eventually becomes part of history.
I responded a second time to my mother’s email, including all those that she forwarded it to as well, and I reported my findings. I had to break the misinformation chain. I plan to email her this as well.