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A Smear by Any Other Name

Out of My Head

Posted: February 12, 2008 7:52 p.m.
Updated: April 11, 2008 2:02 a.m.

“A lie will go ’round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” — attributed to English fundamentalist Baptist Preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892).


If a picture is worth a thousand words, could a fabricated political e-mail be worth thousands of lost votes?

If composed right, absolutely!

An e-mail that I recently received from several people causes me to ponder that scenario.

Focused on presidential hopeful Barack Obama, the e-mail’s subject line read: “Unpatriotic.”

After opening it up, the following declaration appeared: “God save us!”

Scrolling down, there was a photograph of Obama, along with Gov. Bill Richardson, Senator Hillary Clinton, and Ruth Harkin (wife of United States Senator Tom Harkin and a member of the Iowa Board of Regents).

Per the e-mail’s original author, the four were all “standing during the national anthem,” with everyone holding their right hand over their heart, except Obama.

The text “explained” the photo, using “information” gleaned from a news article (verbatim): “Barack Hussein Obama’s photo (that’s his REAL name) ... REFUSED TO NOT ONLY PUT HIS HAND ON HIS HEART DURING THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE, BUT REFUSED TO SAY THE PLEDGE — how in the world can a man like this expect to be our next Commander-in-Chief?”


Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen:

Barack Obama is not a true American!

What kind of man thumbs his nose at our homeland’s sacred oath of loyalty?

What kind of American is even named Hussein? (Hussein! Hussein! Hussein! Cue the ominous Frau Bluecher sneer and accompanying horse whinny.)

What will happen to us all if HE gets elected?

What a load of hatred-inspiring accusations!

Rather than automatically deleting the venomous e-mail, I did some online investigating, using a number of reliable and respected sources (Newsweek, Los Angeles Times,, I wanted to learn what was behind this pejorative projectile.

Sure enough, t’was a bunch of manufactured, xenophobic bunk.

For starters, at the time Obama’s hand wasn’t cupped over his heart, the Pledge of Allegiance was not being recited (so obviously he wasn’t refusing to state the words or cover his heart).

A woman was singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The last time I checked, not covering your heart for that grand American song is not considered treason. Maybe it isn’t the best senatorial public event etiquette. And maybe someone snapped that shot a second before he raised his hand. I do not know. But for sure it’s no proof of his being unpatriotic or oppositional. (Note: In an interview after that photograph’s rabid “interpretation” began flying through the Internet, Obama acknowledged that he always puts his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance; it’s something his grandfather taught him when he was a little boy.)

It is clear that whoever composed the anti-Obama e-mail wants to fan flames of anti-Muslim sentiment and fear of terrorism. Barack Hussein Obama is not Muslim; he is a longtime practicing Christian. But why should that even matter? This presidential election is not supposed to be about religion or race. Right? Additionally, there are plenty of Muslims who are proud, law-abiding Americans.

As far as his middle name being Hussein, so what? Not every Hussein is a Saddam planning to annihilate western civilization with weapons of mass destruction. And, in fact, sometimes those accused of such heinous crimes aren’t even guilty.)

Hussein. Hussein. Hussein.

What’s in a name?

Is every Jesus a savior?

Hardly. There are plenty of guys with that name who have been convicted of crimes in this country.

So what’s the point here — other than character assassination in 100 words or less?

Who needs gunmen on grassy knolls?

* * *

What I wish to convey here is my intense revulsion toward people who crank out these toxic “exposés,” purposely distorting or inventing “facts” to further their agenda.

How can they look in a mirror, or into their children’s faces?

Ethics? Morals? Veracity? Gone with the campaign!

Unquestionably, the political atmosphere has become tainted with modern technology and the corrupt, rabble-rousing behavior of certain individuals. Put them together and in a matter of seconds, short sound bytes become long-distance missiles. Catchy phrases and denigrating fiction produce even more bang for the e-buck.

Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words. And a fabricated political e-mail can be worth thousands of lost votes, maybe more.

Amid all the talk of spreading seeds of democracy in other nations, is this really the way we want to navigate our own country’s destiny?

Regretfully, until the day arrives when our political teams value honesty and integrity more than they do at-any-cost wins, our nation will remain at risk for fracture — particularly when decent candidates are successfully maligned and the “superior choices” snag a red carpet shoe-in.


Diana Sevanian is a freelance writer and Santa Clarita resident. Her opinions are her own and not necessarily those of The Signal.

Copyright: The Signal


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