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Political ignorance must stop

July 21, 2008

by Kristen Miller

I would not feel bad if I did not get one single forwarded e-mail for the rest of my life. Really, I won’t feel bad if I’m not one of the 20 other people on your e-mail address line.

Not only does it waste my time at work – having to check my e-mail every time it thumps – but I wouldn’t have to read any more right-wing politically-skewed jargon blaming the Democrats for all of today’s woes, and all the reasons Americans shouldn’t vote for Barack Obama.

What bothers me the most is that these forwards are going all over the world, filling people’s heads with misconceptions.

I thought voters were supposed to be informed? Well, if forwards are your only way of getting “reliable” information, please reconsider opening them.

I, being a huge fan of Snopes.com, check out each far-fetched (and some even not so far-fetched) forward in my inbox to see just how accurate they are. Many times I find on the debunking site, that the forward I just received was “false.”

What I like about Snopes is, it just doesn’t say the e-mail is false, it gives a detailed explanation of how the e-mail may have been interpreted as fact, as well as the truth of the matter.

As we all know, people will hear what they want to hear, which is why these misconstrued e-mails can be so dangerous. Snopes gives us the opportunity to rethink the old adage, “don’t believe everything you hear,” or in this case, read.

At www.snopes.com, one can find the “Hottest Urban Legends” on the left-hand side. Barack Obama is first in line and John McCain fourth, only after “Postcard Virus,” which is an actual virus, and “Cell Phone Popcorn,” which is completely absurd (that a cell phone can cook and egg or popcorn).

Under Obama, there are approximately 27 e-mails or urban legends, the majority of which are false, with only two true and two undetermined. That is a lot of lies about one man.

To compare, John McCain has only four topics, three of which are all true and none of which are harmful to his political campaign – except maybe the one in which he comments “the Democratic party is a fine party,” adding he has “no problem with their views and their philosophy,” yet adding he won’t be leaving his party.

Maybe I will vote for McCain after all! Just kidding. I am still undecided.

My frustrations with these e-mails have been building for some time now. It all began this fall before primaries when I received an e-mail about Obama actually being raised as a radical Islam.

Wow, nothing like playing on Americans’ fears. What will they say about the next African American who runs for president? I’m sure he/she will be Osama Bin Laden’s very own relation.

Many people were shocked and dismayed after seeing the front cover of the New Yorker. After hearing the actual intent of the artist, Barry Blitt, had in making the cartoon, entitled “Politics of Fear,” I realized this is exactly what I’ve been thinking for the past 10 months.

The New Yorker explained it in a news release, “. . . Blitt satirizes the use of scare tactics and misinformation in the presidential election to derail Barack Obama’s campaign.”

I agree with Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune who said the cartoon is “just lampooning all the crazy ignorance out there” surrounding this campaign.

This ignorance has got to stop.