27 December 2007


An early 2007 emailed message--titled “Who is Barak [sic] Obama"--forwarded through countless e-message trees has kept in circulation a debunked urban legend. The message purports that Senator Barack Obama is a radical, ideological Muslim. The message states that, “If you do not ever forward anything else, please forward this,” thus lending an air of emergency. The message goes further: “This is very scary to think of what lies ahead of us in our own United States” (my emphases), thus indicating that Sen. Obama is not a legitimate member of “our” United States, that somehow he would hand the country over to “them,” the “radical, ideological Muslims,” of whom the message tries to make Sen. Obama a confrere. The message then says, “…better heed this and pray about and share it.” The latter gives it an air of religious duty to pass on the message and vote against Sen. Obama.

The message contains a link to snopes.com and challenges the reader to check it for authenticity. The forwarders of the message do not personally check snopes.com. I DID. If you go to Snopes, you will see in the left column, under the “Hottest Urban Legends,” that the third one is “Barack Obama.” When you click on that link, you will read an earlier similar letter that is judged by Snopes as false. It is interesting reading. Snopes says that no evidence supports the claim that Obama is currently “ideologically Muslim,” or has ever been a “radical Muslim.” In fact, those who made these claims “have offered nothing to support it—no letters or documents, no reports of conversations, no revelations from friends or associates…”

Fortunately, CNN.com did its fact-checking of the message. Here is its link:


Within the CNN.com article there is a link to its video footage of the report: Watch video of Obama's school

Remember, as the current political season moves along, we should expect more swiftboating propaganda.

I do not personally care how you vote. I do care, however (being a high-school Social Studies teacher), about the gullibility of the American public. In a time when we have (overly) busy lives, and when we are deluged with “information,” this affords the opportunity for those who are interested in disinformation to cause a great deal of damage. If your sense of nationalism and Christian identity are appealed to, along with a message of fear, then have great doubts about the authenticity of those political messages. They are designed to touch you where you are most vulnerable to falsehoods. This is the classic way of propagandists.

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