A friend recently told me that he could not imagine voting for Barack Obama.
I knew my friend leans to the right politically, so I was not surprised that he might hold a Democrat in fairly low regard. But I wondered why Obama was of such concern.
The reason, my friend said, was Obama's Islamic background.
I've known this friend for almost 30 years. While our opinions differ on some things, I hold him in very high regard. We've had a number of lengthy conversations over the years on some fairly weighty subjects (religion, politics, etc.), and I've always found him to be thoughtful and well informed.
The comment about Obama seemed a bit wacky, which was out of character for my friend. And I was baffled as to where it came from.
Now, I think I know where it came from.
In "The New Right-Wing Smear Machine," Christopher Hayes of The Nation describes the right wing's use of the e-mail "forward" function to spread all manner of false and misleading political information.
There's the story of Hillary Clinton stiffing the American Gold Star Mothers, an organization of women who've lost sons or daughters in combat. Only one problem with the story. It isn't true.
There's the story about Oliver North offering an impassioned warning about Osama bin Laden in a 1980s Senate committee hearing, only to be dismissed by a Democratic senator (Al Gore in one version; John Kerry in the other). Either way, it's not true.
And then there is the Obama tale, which has him taking great pains to hide the fact he is a Muslim. According to the story, he attended a Wahabi school in Jakarta, with Wahabism being the radical teaching followed by Muslim terrorists. Of course, it isn't true; Obama attended a run-of-the-mill public elementary school.
But a lot of people, including those of good will and good sense, believe these tales. I'm betting my friend either has received an Obama e-mail or talked with someone who has.
Want to keep up with the latest in right-wing smear tactics? Try starting at MyRightWingDad.