Bush knew about 9-11 beforehand; Obama won’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance; the Muslim religion is to blame for just about everything; and Michelle Obama is a pampered spendthrift. How do I know? Forwarded emails told me so.
It is astonishing that fine, upstanding folk who would never dream of lying to their friends face-to-face seem to have no reservations at all about forwarding political cyber-whoppers along to them.
Two forwarded emails I recently found in my in-box are object lessons in political fraud forwarding.
Islam Explained in Layman Terms
Sent to me by an old chum, “Islam Explained in Layman Terms” told me about the fundamental viciousness of the Muslim religion. Originally written by one Dr. Peter Hammond, it contained a neat rundown on the bad things that happen to countries when their percentage of Muslims increases. For example, America has minimal civic trouble because Muslims represent a mere .6% of the population, but Bosnia has a boatload of unrest because its Muslim population hovers around 40%. The presentation appeared very scholarly and seemed to be the product of a lot of painstaking research.
But hold on a minute. Bosnia? Trouble with Muslims…in Bosnia? Wasn’t that where Christian Serbs and Croats decimated their Muslim neighbors in the 80s and 90s with a sustained, official campaign of rape, slaughter and internment in concentration camps? So Hammond was telling me that the skin-and-bone Muslims I saw pleading behind barbed wire back then are now villains? Time to Google this Dr. Hammond guy.
The very first hit on Hammond was his organization, Frontline Fellowship, a group devoted to Christian proselytism in Africa. Its logo, a sword and bible over a silhouette of the continent of Africa. The site also features Hammond’s views on a smorgasbord of subjects, including a lengthy defense of the Crusades and his equally remarkable assertion that “there was no apartheid in Rhodesia.” From the decadence of popes throughout history, to treatises on the “homosexual agenda” and home schooling, Hammond leaves little doubt about his religious and political views.
The next hit on Hammond was a revealing story in IOL News, a Cape Town, South Africa daily. According to the story, Dr. Hammond and his son were in court answering charges of assaulting trick-or-treaters in their neighborhood with paintball guns. Hammond’s stated reason for the 2006 shooting spree: “Halloween is a celebration of the occult.”
So this is the Dr. Peter Hammond whose emailed views on Islam have been read, forwarded and cited by millions as gospel, even though it takes a grand total of one minute to discover that Dr. Hammond is the last person you’d ask for objective information on anything religious or political…or on raising sons, for that matter.
Painfully obvious in “Islam Explained in Layman Terms” is Hammond’s complete avoidance of reality in Indonesia, the country with the highest number of Muslims in the world. According to The New York Times: “The overwhelming majority of Indonesians are moderate Muslims who reject violence.” Wall Street Journal: “Thankfully, the majority of Indonesians are moderate and perceive the real threat FPI [terrorists] presents to their way of life and precious civil liberties.” And this from Reuters Africa in an interview with Faisal Rahman, one of hundreds of protesters in Jakarta demanding harsher treatment of Muslim extremists: “Islam and the Prophet’s teachings show that all religions should be treated equally,” said Rahman. “This is not an Islamic nation. People should be able to worship freely.”
Like Muslim extremists and wild-eyed fanatics of every philosophical stripe, Dr. Hammond ignores truths that don’t reinforce his belief system. To him, the only proper religion for everyone is his brand of fundamentalist Christianity, so he has manipulated some statistics, ignored others and created a phony data set to convince you that Islam–the world’s second largest religion–is evil.
Evidently, “Thou shalt not bear false witness…” is not Hammond’s favorite commandment.
The next email, ‘Queen Obama,’ exposed the unusually large number of staffers hired for Michelle Obama by her husband’s administration ‘to cater to her every whim and to satisfy her every request in the midst of the Great Recession.’ Originally published in Canada Free Press, the copy/pasted email goes on to explain that no first lady in history has ever spent anywhere near so much taxpayer money on such an army of ‘servants.’
According to the email, predecessor Laura Bush had one staffer, and Hillary Clinton only three. The conclusion: America is being victimized by the unbounded profligacy of Michelle Obama with her twenty-two full timers.
Again, it took virtually no effort to find the Canada Free Press website, where it proudly characterizes itself as a ‘conservative online publication.’ My next stop was FactCheck.com, a site equally loathed by the left and right, or whoever happens to be playing fast and loose with the truth at any given moment. This is what FactCheck told me about staffers for recent first ladies:
‘Hillary Clinton had at least a staff of 13 as of October 1993; 18 as of April 1997; and 19 as of March 2000.’ As for Laura Bush: ‘We were able to verify at least 18 staffers for Laura Bush as of June 30, 2008, via the 2008 White House staff list published in The Washington Post’s ‘White House Watch’ column. The combined annual salaries for the 22 staffers we can specifically identify as working for Michelle Obama come to $1.6 million. For the 18 we could identify as working for Laura Bush in 2008, the total is $1.4 million.’ In addition to the Washington Post, FactCheck’s sources included the archivist for the Clinton Presidential Library and the 2009 Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff.
Critical Thinking in Critical Condition
To believe anything about Islam written by a Crusades apologist with an itchy paintball trigger-finger makes about as much sense as accepting at face value a Michelle Obama exposé published by an outfit that calls itself conservative. Though both reports might have been objective and accurate, the chance of them being so was extremely low.
Yet both of these e-frauds and countless others continue to be circulated by individuals who either/and:
- Believe everything they find in their in-boxes
- Believe anything authored by a person with ‘Dr.’ in front of his or her name
- Believe anything that supports their political views, and want you to believe it too
They seem to forget that their return email addresses, names, and added ‘kinda makes you think’ messages are their own personal endorsements of lies. Circulating these things without checking them out—especially when it’s so incredibly easy to do—undermines their reputations as straight shooters.
Of course, many forwarders don’t care about being straight shooters. For them, the message is all that counts; truth is just an annoying distraction. Forwarding “Islam Explained in Layman Terms” to a fellow Muslim hater is fun and reinforcing. And, sending ‘Queen Michelle’ to a Tea Party-er is a great way to paint Barak Obama as (sing along) an evil overlord who is trying to run America like his own personal fiefdom, and will eventually lead us to a dark, socialistic, third-world existence.
There are only so many fraudulent emails a person can stand. That’s why God blessed us with the spam filter. If truth means anything to the forwarder — and he wants his emails to be considered anything more than a nuisance — he ought to consider doing a little fact checking before hitting “send.”
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